Day 26 Friday 27 July. Leh - Stakna 26km.

Alan’s plane departed at 7am so we were up at 4.30am for the taxi we had arranged. I left him at the airport both sad and happy. I helped him carry his bike and gear as far as they would let me. It was emotional and I shed a tear as he limped through the boarding gate with his stick pushing the trolley. Alan still has to make several connections and then when he gets back to Australia deal with all his physical problems.. It's a heavy load.

I walked back from the airport to the centre of town. I wasn’t going to be able to post my parcel before 10am so I had several hours to collect my bike and the parcel. I will now head down the Indus Valley following the Indus River after which India is named. I expected it to be generally quiet and mostly down hill for a few hundred kilometres. I felt lonely and vulnerable without Alan.

As I waited on the footpath for the Post Office to open the Dal Lai Lama passed by in a motorcade. Unlike yesterday there was hardly anyone about. I stood up and bowed my head in respect and he waved at me and smiled. Wow. The parcel ended up being a drama. The Post Master recognised me and asked if I had any electronic or steel objects in the parcel. “Yes brass tankards, silver jewellery, silver boxes and a brass cymbal.” I had to unstitch the whole parcel for inspection. By now there were four other people with parcels doing the same thing. Why couldn’t they put up a sign on the wall “No sending metal objects or electronic devices due to security.” The lady started pulling everything out of the box. I had wrapped objects in clothes and she pulled a few of the metal objects out but missed half of them. During the confusion I ended up paying $60 for a 4.8kg airmail parcel that may not pass airport security. My sleeping bag is worth $400. I also have to carry some heavy brass gifts with me. I didn’t get away till midday.