Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bum La

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Bum La came to me by chance. One sleepless night, through the blog of a rider, and now an inspiration Gaurav Jani. Thank you for this Sir!

It immediately caught my fancy. I read the same blog thrice the next day. Bum La had seeped into me faster than most intravenous drugs work. I was hooked and a day at Bum La was booked. Suddenly, reaching Myanmar came second fiddle to this 15600 ft behemoth.

The Se La at 13600 ft had already intimidated me so much, that I had to ride the bike up there. Army trucks and their Maruti Gypsy's ruled the roost on these roads, but the touristy Sumo and Trax also held their own with excess load and Formula 1 styled racing slicks.

This would be the first time I'd ride up solo to a possibly snowed in pass. What if the bike stopped? In fog, on a slope, how was I going to get my hands to wrench? I can't even hold a screwdriver with gloves on. And there's no way they were coming off!!! What if the horrendous roads caused a puncture? Whose going to fix a puncture for me at 13600 ft above MSL? 

I had a million more questions in my head, and possible breakdown scenario's presented themselves daily in my Cranium's grey matter. Nothing adverse happened and these questions still remain unanswered.
I breezed past the Se La and enjoyed a day in Tawang. Haggled and argued with the Garrison Commander till Madam Vadm was granted permission to summit Bum La at 15600 ft. The "roads" were non existent. I bounced over rocks the size of footballs on nearly 65 degree inclines. The cold ensured I could cut glass with my nipples and I constantly fought to keep myself from shivering all over and focus on riding.

In 1962, the Chinese invaded India through the Bum La. They forged their way past Tawang and were held back and made to retreat over 200 km from Bomdila back into China. The Indian army now guards, maintains and practically own the 330 km stretch from Bhalukpong to the Bum La.
Now the border is at peace, a painted boulder labelled the Rock of Peace stands as a symbol of the peace vows taken by the neighbouring countries. 

I was offered tea and tobacco in China by the Indian Army, allowed to view the Chinese army camp via a telescope and given a certificate of presence by the garrison officer.
I came back to Tawang after 76 km and 8 hrs on the road feeling accomplished and a tad bit exhausted. the P Tso enroute was a crystal clear lake with views that will be very hard to find the world over.

The Indian Army guards the roads through -25°C winter temperatures. Their work and love for the nation has forever humbled me. I have a new found respect for them and urge everyone to experience first hand the gems of India who have dedicatd their lives to ensuring ours are safe.