After 6 km of adventurous downhill we reached a group of tiny stone houses roofed with blue plastic sheets, serving both as hotel and restaurants. The place was called Bharatpur. Arrived there at 3 pm it was literally the shop owners and us, beautifully peaceful. We sat on a terrace, in the warm sun (maybe 20°!) and it slowly became clear that this would be it for the day. There was no camping spot around but it was so quiet that it seemed we would have a whole house-tent for ourselves. Then arrived the 30 motorbikes and their drivers eager to attract attention. We knew they were just stopping for tea but how random they had chosen the exact same place as us (amongst ten possibilities!). Clearly outnumbered we moved across the road waiting for the party to be over in our new quiet cave. However the lady in our new place refused to let us sleep at her place!
Back into our first choice, soon the noise of the two wheelers was replaced by trucks who got stuck in the pass as night had now come and water was turning back to ice. Most of the night became a sound and light show, with free real diesel smoke to increase the creepy atmosphere.
It was quite obvious that the next night down the valley we would regain our freedom and silence by finding the best camping spot and cook our own sticky nuddles (we can easily manage that ourselves, we just had to get the cheapest pack available in Manali).
The two followings days were hard for the legs with two climbs above 5000m including the memorable Gata loops- 21 hair pins with super steep slopes in a few turns that made the four of us stop nearly every 500m to regroup and regain our breath with the little amount of oxygen available.
We camped in between the two passes and a very thin layer of snow had covered our tent when we opened our eyes in the morning. We warmed up before leaving with a chai in a parachute tent run by two beautiful old ladies coming from villages further deep in the mountains. They were very generous and we could feel in our food and drink the love they had put in, it makes such a difference!
The scenery dramatically changed after the Nikkina La on the way down to Pang. First we saw some marmots, first wild animal I had seen for a while, second we met an Indian touring cyclist that had a flat tire and needed a pump every 5km to be able to reach Pang and get his bike fixed. Fortunately the landscape was so special that he could catch up with us and refill his tire every time our jaw dropped and our fingers clicked our cameras’ buttons.
The road was in rather bad condition and although having gone downhill we arrived in Pang quite tired for lunch. Feeling rather lazy, we also stayed for dinner and eventually got a good price to stay in the tent behind the dhaba ( restaurant) we had eaten in all day.
Fin noted that it was a red cross tent, probably not given to most needy people since good business was made out of it!
We will remember Pang for the moment we had to pay the bill the owner gave us where prices had all changed. Furthermore when we did the correct maths and found mistakes, she said : ” OK,OK, you pay your total sum, it is discount !” So from now on we know: correct maths is discount, good!