Sunday, 19 July 2009

A Slow Boat to China

Pangong Lake is 13,900 feet up in the Himalayas. It's 83 kilometers long and a raggedy five hour drive from Leh. They say that it's the place to 'see before you die.' You drive through spectacular valleys towards the disputed border between India and Tibet, now China. The Chinese, always in for a bit more territory, incorporated Tibet and now Tibet is China. Pangong Lake is patrolled by the Chinese navy and the Indian navy and you need a special permit to visit it. Not the sort of place to go to if you have any kind of health problem.

Of course, being Zach, is exactly the place that he has had to go to. 'I've organised a visa for a week for China,' he told us in a later email, when he wasn't sounding too bad. I mean, I guess that you have to have some kind of reasonable mental health to organise a visa to anywhere. But in these nether regions, maybe it's easy to deal with officials.

Pangong Lake and the whole of this area of northern Ladakh is remote. So remote that there's just the one road that curls around the mountains and sometimes into the mountains in order that another car can snake around. Apparently it's an area for those of us who are the real adventurers. Consider the thinness of the air and the sparkling quality of the sunlight and the lack of comfort. There's the hippy trail of travellers and the locals who visit the lake but not much else apart from soldiers.

Zach said that he had 'visited a psychiatrist' and 'has medication.' I doubt that there are too many English speaking psychiatrists in the locale, although I do know that he has some medication. The last email isn't much of a testament to that. He doesn't respond to questions. He jumbles off a stream of consciousness of what he says is happening but who knows?

Whatever... So now we have to extend our imagination to a slow boat trip to China and whether or not he makes it back and how and when or what they do with Englishmen who display erratic behaviours in Tibet.

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