The Road to Tabo
We found ourselves became in Kalpa. We had been due to get our Inner Line Permits the next morning before setting off for Tabo via the restricted zone. The police control the area very tightly and list the details of all foreigners both into the area and out of it. The sensitivity is caused by the closeness of the border with the Chinese occupied Tibet. There were border skirmishes towards the end of the 20th Century and the Army are here in force. Should there be any difficulties the police will withdraw and the army move up. Anyway it was Saturday and we found that we could not get the permits authorised till Monday morning so we spent the time walking up to the snow line on the mountain behind the hotel, cycling along the old Hindustan to Tibet Highway (which was a bit tricky in places as it a route for mules and packhorses) and looking around the village.
On Monday having being photographed and issued with our permits we set off forTabo.
We passed through the first police check point a few hours later where we were invited into a blue and yellow corrugated tin shack and invited to sit. The police officer scrutinised our permits paying particular attention to the rubber stamp that’d been put on them. He then Inspected out Passports and Visas with the same contentious maker. Having assured himself that they were OK he then entered all the details in two separate ledgers and waved us away. The string that raises the barrier was pulled, the barrier went up and we entered the restricted zone where we were greeted by a road sign that said “You are traveling on the worlds most treacherous road”
I know that I have spent some time previously describing the roads in a previous blog, but you must indulge me.
I have seen pictures of landscapes like this in books documenting extreme places. In my childhood it was the stuff of adventure stories and unlikely tales. I never expected to experience anything like this in real life. The edge of the track had few barriers and there were signs of the track crumbling at the edge.Potholes and boulders Lorries passed us with wheels less than 18 inches from the edge. The drop was never less than 100 meters and in many places was 2 kilometres ( thats not a typo, it really was a 2 kilometre drop in places).
At one point we turned off the main route to take a higher route where the track inevitably deteriorated further as the number of rockfalls, boulders and potholes increased. It was a real and other alarming off road experience.
Thankfully there was less traffic.
Extraordinary driving from Jagdish; confident and skilful but I still find it hard to believe that he managed to get the car up that track to the top of that mountain at 3650 meters.
I find it even more unbelievable that we cycled down the other side back to the Tibetan highway.