At the very top of Khardung La, a few makeshift buildings thwart the military glory. You think being at 5.600 meters is a peaceful moment, a unique instant of quietness and contemplation? So very wrong! From a temple uphill, recorded prayers are sent down. Even louder music (and what sounded like political slogans) escapes speakers attached to the world’s highest restaurant. Its unspectacular specialty? Tea and instant Maggi noodle soup! The small souvenir shop displays dusty T-shirts and a few barracks fill the limited space.
The very pass is jam-packed with cars, moving or parked. Drivers honking or exchanging gossip and news (many do the trip every other day) and crowds stopping to have their photo taken at the sign “Khardung La, World Highest Motorable Road (18.380 feet)”.
In this mayhem, we luckily remembered to look out for the Karakorum. More photos were taken in front of this majestic mountain range and of a group of bikers before we started our descent to the Nubra Valley. This left a few seconds to contemplate on what the place was like when the road was part of an old trade route from India crossing the Karakorum into Central Asia.
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