Day 7 Saturday 8 July. Malayan - Kargil 83km.

It poured throughout the night and the tent leaked. Our sleeping bags were wet but we didn’t get cold. I borrowed Jim Honor’s Mega Mid snow tent which is almost new but I didn’t check the seams to notice they needed sealing. The temperatures so far are much warmer than we predicted. During the day it has been 25-30˚C and at night 15-18˚C.

The sky cleared by 6am and we dried and cleaned what we could. We didn’t leave until 10am heading towards Drass and Kargil which generally follows the Drass River down stream. around lunch time. coldest habitable place on earth. winter average is -45˚C but Oymyakon in Siberia holds the record of -71˚C.

Despite being a mostly downhill ride the road is rough and the gradient slight so the going is still tough. We stopped for lunch and a break. frames, welders making handrails and a bustling town centre. We have not seen any other tourists yet. Most of Kashmir is Moslem and the mosque is the main building dominating the town. After the call to prayer we head off hoping Allah will provide a smooth road ahead.

Kargil is close to the Pakistan border and we expected a big military presence as we approached. Kargil is on the Suru River and we had to climb the last 10km of the day’s 83km. Alan is really in a lot of pain from an aggravated toe and other injuries associated with his WA bike accident but there is no alternative but to go on. We arrive at 5.30pm exhausted. There is a sign to Paradise Hotel, up the hill of course, so we headed up the steep side road with everyone watching us. I left the bikes with Alan and headed up the flight of stairs to check out the vacant rooms. Prices are between Rs 700 - Rs 1,000. We settle for a big room with a double bed and a window for Rs 800 ($16). We have to carry our panniers and bikes up the dodgy stairs making several trips to the rooftop room and spread out. Alan has to use his walking stick and he has blood over his arms and legs. People just gape in disbelief wondering how this man has just ridden a bike. They would probably not believe he had ridden 83km today.

We shower and clean up before walking down town to eat. We have mutton and rice masala at Rubby’s Restaurant and are ripped off at Rs 400 ($8) for two. Alan asked for a beer and the young man said “We are Moslem and don’t drink alcohol.” Later we learnt that the whole town is non-smoking and non- alcohol and it is against the law to smoke or drink. We sleep well.