pangongtso fliptravels 1res

the road to pangong tso

By Ron Cruz

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Allizvell! Allizvell!

When I saw that final scene in the film Three Idiots, my whole world froze in suspended animation, my conscious attention zeroed-in towards the TV frame, to that unworldly landscape, that vivid shade of teal.

While in deep awe, I immediately grabbed a pen. LADAKH, I wrote it with intense eagerness that the ballpoint tip almost cut through the paper. I encircled it with a violently fluorescent orange stabillo marker.

It took me years to push this plan to materialize.

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The Himalayan Region hits a special spot in my heart, it haunts me in my dreams, and elicits a sense of longing that cannot be defined by any language known to mankind, but by the one eloquently spoken by the soul.

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The repeating landscape is almost hypnotic. The assault up the winding road was a cerebral torture and an an ultimate test of gut. Higher and higher my head was pounding, my breathing was chasing my heartbeat—THIS IS IT! Altitude sickness. Driving at 17,460 feet above sea level, the glaring sun was blinding me intermittently while the falling snow creates an optical distraction on my windshield. I saw mountain goats, bright yellow pheasants, skipping marmots running away towards the—I dunno—rabbit hole?

It was so trippy I thought I popped a tab of LSD.

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Descending from Changla, the highest pass and the most difficult part of the journey, a rewarding view of the majestic valley of Changspa greets the travelers who make it through the challenging assault.

It irks me when travel bloggers use the cliché “It was like traveling back in time.” But if there’s one moment in this lifetime that I have to use it, this should be it. So here you go:

It was like traveling back in time.

But I’m not talking about one or two centuries ago, I am referring to that time when our evolved species were just mere chromosomal probabilities.

The frozen mountain peaks roll through unobstructed slopes down to the lush green valley. It almost looks like a CGI landscape made for History Channel’s documentary on dinosaurs and pre-history. It was so archaic it feels like a pterodactyl will hover overhead and Jocelyn Wildenstein is hiding somewhere behind the rocks, with Donatella Versace of course.

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We left Leh at an ungodly hour of 5:00 AM. It was almost noon when I finally saw the edge of the Pangong Tso, peeking at the end of the empty road we’ve been chasing for six hours.

There are very few moments in my life that left me speechless. For once in a very long time, I had nothing to say, nothing to feel, I even put my camera back in my bag because I just want to savor the moment of being there. Maybe, I reached that breaking point of human’s capacity to handle a stimulus. Like when a powerful emotion reaches the snapping stretch to insanity, that threshold to apathy, tribulation to rapture.

It was non-emotion, non-indifference, non-feeling.

I approached the shore in silence. The vast emptiness muffled the crunch of rocks under my soles. I can hear my breathing as it taper down to an almost string of gasps.

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Stanzin broke the silence by trying to conjugate his limited repertoire of English words “I’m here, many many times before, it still beautiful. Like always my first time!

He stretched his arms and shouted “BLUE! BEAUTIFUL!

I joined him and shouted “TEAL!” But my rebuttal hardly made sense to him.

It was teal. To be very specific, a shade of turquoise called mermaid treasure. Yeah that color exists, and whoever’s naming these colors must be someone who eats sequins for breakfast and sweats glitters in the gym.

It was time to go back to Leh. People were telling me that it is suicidal to cross the Changla pass twice in a day. That I am crazy for going up and down twice through that unforgiving altitude without acclimatizing…

I did it anyway.

Allizvell! Allizvell!

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  • http://www.angelicacruzph.com/ Angelica

    Ron! I feel you. There’s no other place/landscape that commands my full attention other than the Himalayas. They always leave me speechless. Thanks for the beautiful photos (that lake!) and this post :)

  • http://flipntravels.wordpress.com flipntravels

    Thanks Ange, and we will always go back to her silent cradle. Sana next time magkasabay na tayo no?

  • http://www.walkflypinoy.com paul | walkflypinoy

    It’s time to Ladakh soon, te! The photos are beautiful, Ron.

  • http://lamyerda.com/ lamyerda

    So true, the Himalayas have a special place in my heart too.
    The photos are so stunning! When I first saw your photos in IG, Napapamura aco sa ganda talaga. Grabe! Sana ma puntahan ko din to. one day.

  • ems

    achieve na achieve! kebs na sa altitude sickness!

  • http://flipntravels.wordpress.com flipntravels

    gusto ko na nga bumalik!

  • http://flipntravels.wordpress.com flipntravels

    true kebs tiis tiis ganda lang!

  • Margaret Rose Rodriguez

    Hayup! I’ve always wanted to travel to Ladakh. It’s soo beautiful!

  • Mar Wanderlust

    Ron you are probably the best blog writer in the “blogosphere”

    If you love Pangong Tso, you will muster all your courage and energy to hike all six lakes of Gokyo in Khumbu Nepal. The fourth and the fifth lakes in particular are the best. The view of the fourth lake on top of Gokyo Ri Peak and the Himalayan Peaks in the background will leave lasting impression. The sixth lake is the hardest to reach but definitely worth all the climbing.

  • http://flipntravels.wordpress.com flipntravels

    nag blush ako kahit di ako mestizo.

    i really want to go back to nepal. but the recent disaster will surely change everything the next time i set foot to that awesome place.

  • Mar Wanderlust

    Give it some time, a year or two