The ride to Sarchu was long and tiring, but a stopover at Tanglang La—the second highest pass in the world at a height of 17,582 feet—and a visual treat of some of the most fascinating rock formations (some even resembled the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey) made it worth our while.
My biggest grouse through this route—actually, almost all through the trip—were the lack of hygienic loos. Now I certainly wasn’t expecting fancy bath settings and tissue rolls, but I didn’t think a hole in the ground, literally, was a great idea either. Moving away from that horrific mental picture I just offered you all, we found something on this route that had been avoiding us all through our stay in Leh—Buttertea! When we stopped to grab a bite, at Pang, the food menu was the same as every other roadside tent restaurant, but we finally found a place to try the famous Tibetan Buttertea. An infusion made from tea leaves, yak butter, and salt, this Tibetan drink is very warming and hence particularly suited to high altitudes. It tasted more like soup, but still, trying it was an experience in itself.
As the sun began to set, we reached Sarchu and it sprang up a pleasant surprise on us—camping tents amid the outdoors. Endless green pastures with flocks of sheep grazing welcomed us, together with clean rooms with attached bathrooms. We quickly freshened up and swiftly added two more layers of warm clothing as the temperature had dropped drastically, leaving us shivering. A couple of swigs of brandy and rum, paired with a not-very-effective bonfire and some very effective ghost stories followed soon after. We ended the day with crooked smiles on our faces and fell asleep shivering under yet another two layers of blanket and quilt in our cosy tents.