The Lachen Misadventure

On day two of our North East ride we had planned to ride from Gangtok to Lachen so that we could attempt to ride to the Gurudongmar and Tso Lhamo lakes the next day. After lunch the weather took a turn for the worse and by the time we reached Lachen we were completely drenched. Due to a communication mix up we ended up riding past the village. I was leading the pack and something didn’t seem right. I stopped to cross check the GPS and realized that we were 10 km past Lachen.

Instead of heading back, we decided to continue riding to the next village and find a place to stay for the night. It would save us the trouble of riding back to Lachen and then riding back the next day. I knew that there were a couple of homestays at Thangu which was around 25 kms ahead of us.

It seemed like a good plan till the rain changed to heavy snowfall and it started to get very cold. Our helmets were covered with snow and ice started to form on the visors.

We came across a small hut by the side of the road and stopped to get something hot to drink. There was a teenage girl in the hut staying with her younger brother. At first she refused to open the door for us. But after knocking for a while she opened the door and yelled at us, “What are you doing here at this time of the night?”

We were taken aback. “We are riding to Thangu. Can you make coffee for us?” I asked.

“Thangu!”, she screamed. “You will die. Go back. Go back to Lachen now.”

Denzil Nunes and I looked at each other perplexed. The rest of the group were yet to catch up to us. Irfan Khalifa had stopped as he couldn’t feel his fingers any more.

Slowly the gravity of the situation set in. We had grossly miscalculated this whole thing and were blissfully unaware that we were riding into a disaster. It was a lonely, wet and slippery road from Lachen so far and this was the first settlement we had come across in 10 kms.

The girl continued screaming at us. “Listen to me. There is nothing in front till Thangu. The road climbs up quite high and if it is snowing this much here, then it means you will get knee deep snow further up. You will not be able to make it. Please go back to Lachen. There are hotels there.”

That did it for us. The girl was speaking sense and I was glad that we had stopped at her hut.

“OK”, I said, “We have three more friends coming up here. We are all cold and wet. Please make something nice and hot for us. We will have it and go back to Lachen.”

She hesitated for a while, glanced at her brother, who seemed to be enjoying the show so far, and said, “OK, come in.”

She cooked a nice piping hot bowl of Maggi noodles for each of us and started a fire to keep us warm.

Angels don’t always live in heaven.