Ladakh ride 2016: Keylong- Jispa

After a good night’s sleep in Keylong, we woke up at our own convenience at around 9.30 AM. I’d love to head out and check the mountains out in the morning so I did exactly that, took some peak shots and annoyed Satish so he’d get out of bed and we could go have breakfast upstairs. We did everything slowly and lazily that morning, took about an hour to have breakfast. What’s worse? Half the items on the menu weren’t available so after a lot of brainstorming activity with the waiter, we got and ate what we wanted to. It then took about 2 hours for us to suit up, pack our luggage and reload everything on our 390s. I changed the way I stacked luggage on my motorcycle since the fuel cans wouldn’t stay on the Panniers. As a result, the fuel cans went into the Tail Bag and the stuff from the Tail Bag went everywhere else. All that got sorted by 1.30 PM.

Keylong- jispa on KTM Duke 390
Keylong mornings

If you’re wondering why we were so relaxed, or rather why I was so relaxed, well it was because I was riding only for 25 KMS on that day up to Jispa and camp there, basically to acclimatize. As I’ve said earlier, the slower you ride through Ladakh, the more you savor it within you.  Deep inside me, I was thinking it would’ve been a lot better if I was riding solo. Satish, as usual was in a hurry so I asked him to go further and wait while I took photos and rode merrily through the green and brown mountains. I met two guys from France on my way who had rented Royal Enfields but had to reach LEH sooner and board a flight as they had to get back to work the following week. They seemed regretful. That’s another advantage of quitting your job and travelling, you won’t be bound by any employer on your tour and your mind can be free of.. shit.

Kelyong- Jispa manali- leh highway ktm duke 390
Wallpaper land?


KEylong- jispa manali- leh highway KTM duke 390
Frenchies who wanted to stay longer

I caught up with Satish as I neared Jispa where we thought of riding upto Darcha which was an extra 10 kms further, just to see if there was any camping ground available there. We reached Darcha check post and found no sign of a camping ground, it existed in Jispa only so I suggested we went back and pitched our tents in Jispa. Satish was suddenly reminded of his college and that he had wasted a lot of days already. He had to get back to Bangalore soon so he intended to reach Sarchu on the same day and eventually finish the LEH circuit sooner than planned. I had told to him about the dangers of not acclimatizing, gave him many examples too. Moreover, it was his new college course he was worried about getting back to whereas I had quit my job for this. Colleges take any shitty reason you give them when you take two weeks of time for yourself. If they still cry about attendance, get a medical certificate and slap it on their face, they can’t do shit to you! That’s how things work in my world, you can’t do nuts for yourself if you aren’t able to exploit the rules of the system, rules these Institutions, businesses, corporates and other other bodies create because they don’t want to see free, happy people but expect people to be obedient slaves following an unfair and pathetic value system.

Satish was adamant about continuing and kept bringing his college up, so I didn’t insist on him staying back. Probably, he was very worried about his problem, so we decided to part ways. He carried on towards Sarchu whereas I went back to Jispa and found a campsite to pitch my tent. If I was in his place and had time limits, I wouldn’t have done this trip in the first place. In addition, if my motorcycle had cooling issues like how Satish’s Duke had,  I would’ve stuck to my riding buddy throughout, just think about it!

MAnali- leh highway keylong- jispa KTM duke 390
When the radiator fan ensures you’re not going forward.

After reaching Jispa, I looked out for a campsite with plenty of tents around. A site had tents set up on hard surfaces and the rates were around 1500 INR. I asked the manager if I could pitch my tent on the camp site and was ready to pay some amount as rent. I also offered to order food from him since they had a kitchen as well. He happily said I didn’t have to pay for my tent which did come as a surprise, I mean you hardly see people giving away things for free these days, especially when it came to a small piece of land for the night! By 4.30 PM, I had pitched my light hiking tent and had shoved all my stuff inside. It was quite a task but since my tent was a bit expensive, it was more convenient to pitch! That’s the new age funda, you want more convenience, shell out more money!

MAnali- leh highway Jispa campsite tent KTM duke 390
Sorting my stuff inside the tent

Jispa was at an altitude of 10,500 feet which isn’t too much but it could tire you out if you underestimate it. I had used up too much of my energy in nailing the tent to the ground so my head began to feel heavy. It was a symptom of acute mountain sickness, something that I intended to avoid. To ward that off, I sipped some water, ordered Aloo Parathas with chai and relaxed in my tent for a while. Relaxation helps, especially when you intend to heal yourself mentally first so your physical body too begins to feel better. There needs to be silence and peace around which was present but with mild interruptions of Royal Enfields passing by. I didn’t allow much of that to bother me though. After a good ten minute relaxation, I was fresh again. I headed out to click pictures as the golden 5 PM light was covering a lot of the landscape. When the Parathas arrived, I had them hot outdoors on a table near the tent and savored the view. These are moments that matter the most to me, these are moments I travel for.

Jispa campsite MAnali- leh highway Keylong- Jispa KTM Duke 390
The tent and table behind. My world was set.

What was favoring me the most though was the location of Jispa. There are very few who prefer a night stop at Jispa as it lies between Keylong and Sarchu. A lot of the tourists who travel from Manali stop at Keylong for a night and then head directly to Sarchu. The same rule applies to people coming from Sarchu, they head directly to Keylong and stop in the town for a night. Jispa in the process gets secluded and therefore becomes much peaceful. To prove that right, I encountered only one tent that was occupied by someone at the campsite, the rest were empty!

Soon enough though, the light got more heavenly but some more bikers came in. Two of the riders were from Srinagar so I got valuable updates from them on the conditions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. By the time it got dark, I had loitered around a bit too much in my slippers so my head began to feel heavy again. At that point of time, I thought the only thing that could help me was proper sleep. There was no power so there was no phone connection signal too. Apparently they’re connected in Jispa.

I order simple food for dinner- Dal Chawal and relaxed in my tent until food arrived at 9 PM. The dal was one was one of the most delicious dals I had ever had, topped with a lot of butter. I was surprisingly hungry, considering the Parathas that I had at 5 PM. As I chilled in my tent after dinner, another Royal Enfield bullet checked in that bore a Karnataka registration number. Riding it was a couple who hailed from Bangalore who had been traveling since a month. What cheered me up was they too had quit their jobs to travel the region. I love it when people take such steps that go against the ‘norm’, especially when it is for adventure.

Soon enough, I got back to my tent after a short conversation in Kannada and called it a night after speaking to parents at home. It must’ve been 10 degrees outside but my sleeping bag kept me really warm.

MAnali- leh highway Keylong- jispa campsite KTM Duke 390
A picture with Sandeep and Shilpa the next morning


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  1. // Reply

    > As I’ve said earlier, the slower you ride through Ladakh, the more you savor it within you.
    Good luck making people understand that 🙂

    > Deep inside me, I was thinking it would’ve been a lot better if I was riding solo
    or find another traveller who understands flowing with experiencing the location, rather than keeping up schedules.
    Difficult to find, but sometimes you could come across strangers (esp foreigners) who sync.

    1. // Reply

      Haha thanks man! I swear, Ladakh shouldn’t be done in a jiffy. That to me is stupid x 10. And yes, I too have noticed this that foreigners do it better and that’s why I could build a good rapport with most of them who I met. Time and speed need to be left alone on this trip!

What do you think?