Firstly, here’s some background information. Floods hit Leh and surrounding regions in the year 2010 washing out many people’s lives and properties. A lot of my friends, who work at Splash Ladakh, witnessed it first hand and ran for their lives. And some like Govind Adhikari, Santosh Karki and Nabin Sunuwar have also seen their houses being demolished by the Nepal Earthquake.
It was that time of the year again when city life got to me. The pollution, noise, traffic and people behaving like sheep doing the same damn thing everyday – following the heard.
Goal of starting smashing pixels was to be able to travel, follow my dreams and earn a living at the same time. My adrenaline and fitness levels were getting really low and it was time for change.
So I called Nima Jora. The man I had never met before but heard about from Kobe. He was the guy who runs Splash, one of the most reputed rafting companies in Ladakh. I some how felt he was the man I had to strike a deal with. I also noticed splash being such a huge company didn’t have a website. What luck for me!
So I spoke in my broken Hindi and somehow explained to him that I’m going to come there, design his website and help him with his daily office work and he has to pay me for it and take care of my stay while I’m there. Too much to ask for ??
Apparently not. He’s like ‘Aajao’! And like always, I booked my flight the next day and left.
I reached and explained to him about how I’m going to work with him and what payment I expect. And he was very happy about how clear and truthful I was. I guess being frank really helps in gaining one’s trust when you don’t really know them.
I finished the website in about 1 month and received the payment. I was free to kayak, boulder, travel, cycle and everything that I wanted to do. It was a dream come true! And at what better place than Ladakh.
These are things I will really miss after spending 3 months in this heaven on earth. I unfortunately don’t have many pictures since I spoiled my camera on the first day!
The Zanskar and Indus Rivers,
Sangam – The confluence of Zanskar and Indus – where splash adventure tours is located,
Bhai Log – The crew!,
Govind,Gyatso,Tsering,Nabin,Sanu,Pavan,Karan,Surjith,Hemraj,Theenku,Ustaad(Shishupal),Sangdup,Santosh,Dorje,Ram,Chameli the monkey,Sheru the dog, Chotu the dog with one eye,Sanju and Stanzin
Nima Dai – The 40 something year old man who is 19 at heart – my homie for life who’s taught me to always live life king size and always think 2 steps ahead,
Nimmoo camp where we stayed every night after rafting and kayaking with day clients,
The sight of milkyway at night,
Apricot and apple trees that you can pluck fruits from and eat,
Scorpoche – The 14km rafting starting point, Tgosthi and Chilling,
Paddling on the Indus (Phey to Nimmoo) – Nice practice river for Kayaking,
GraviT – The bouldering place that I would practice in everyday after office work.
The sound of streams flowing through Leh at night,
The bolero campers we travelled in all over ladakh – Basanti,
Godfather superstrong, the ultra super strong beer that really fucks your mind, body and soul,
Splash office at Leh main market,
The chai and lunch at sangam,
Being called ‘Jogi Bhai’,
Making friends everywhere,
The panic on clients faces who come for rafting,
The sight of the mountains,
Skaldan, Namgyal and Rahul Dai the guys who worked with me in the Leh office,
Cho Cho and Jigmet Stanzin, Nima Dai’s kids,
Laughter sessions with Govind – one of the funniest guys and a paddler from Nepal,
The drives to the Zanskar river rafting expedition,
The expedition itself,
The view from Yangphel guest house, The radio station quarters, Zik Zik guest house and all other memorable ones – Jigmet, Gangba and Lumbini,
Apricot Lassi, Paneer paratha and Mutton momos,
Sleeping under stars, watching shooting starts and satelites all night,
The silence, the bliss feeling on being in the water and in between the mountains,
The snow peaks,
The drives and the hindi music,
The bridge rapid,
The unlimited supply of food and joints,
The feeling of getting a good room, bathroom after ages,
Sitting on top of the jeep and travelling all over the place,
Life was so beautiful so often,
Football and Volleyball games,
Screaming and whistling at chicks from the car,
Abusing firangs in hindi,
No pollution, laid back and primitive life style,
Tripping with homies Vibha, Katu, Ankeet, Rishabh, Puneeth, Shriya and her friends and all those who came when I was there.
See you next season Ladakh. You are my second HOME.
For the last one and a half months I have been working for Splash Adventure Tours as their web designer and safety kayaker. I must say this has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I get to stay in the most beautiful place in the world – Ladakh, get to eat staff food which means it’s free, get paid for designing their site and get to kayak when I want. I’ve dreamt of this lifestyle for the last 2 years and it’s finally come true!
Rafting and Kayaking through the ice cold Zanskar :
(The above 3 pics aren’t mine but the scene is similar everyday.)
Splash Adventure website – http://www.splashladakh.com – Check out the site for latest adventure news from splash, expedition details, kayak school details and lots more.
Still have one and a half months to go here and I’m sure it’s going to be one hell of a ride. Videos and Pictures coming soon! I unfortunately spoilt my go pro the very first day I landed here :(. But here are a few pictures of this paradise on earth.
Tsomoriri Lake :
Thank you Smashing Pixels for making all my dreams come true. None of this would be possible if we hadn’t started this company 2 years ago.
P.S : Don’t forget to checkout our latest project SplashLadakh.com . I highly recommend these guys for any sort of Rafting and Kayaking needs in Ladakh.
Everybody chooses something to find love in their own selves. It’s sort of a snooze to realise the beauty around us and to remind ourselves that we are all mortal. Kayaking for me is training myself to live in the “no thinking” period. Also I have this big affinity to water since childhood. I just love living it in the river!! Being a novice paddler, I have followed every safety regulation in the two years of white water kayaking in my life to avoid any mishaps on the river. No matter how much precaution or training (which I compare to education), nature’s always got something in store for us. I feel lucky to pick these chapters in my life to shape my personality. But there are a few instances in which I believe we tend to give it all we have to have a happy moment around us. This spirit of letting go beyond fears and being totally aware our surroundings and our team.
I got a taste of this spirit sitting on a 7 foot boat on the Zanskar river in the middle of a snowstorm. The day started off as usual packing up our raft however we missed breakfast as the guests were confirmed at a short notice. Last night’s storm added to our misfortunes as we had to pick up stones lying all along on the road to our put in point. The clients car got punctured and we lost an hour getting the stepnie fixed. In the midst of all this, the purple shining mountains of the zanskar valley always brings the brightest side of life !!
After our safety instructions to the clients, we started off as usual with a pumped up feeling. This was a 28km stretch comprising of good class 3 rapids. Hardly a few kms on the river the weather gods blessed us with snowfall began. It was a beautiful sight to see a white spray deck on my kayak.
Leading the river on my kayak I was about 30 m ahead of the raft which was guided by my dear friend Mikael Kandel from Nepal. A few kms downstream I heard a blasting sound. I look to my left side where a colossal part of the mountain just disintegrated. It was a huge landslide and the rocks were heading towards us in milliseconds. I took out on the right eddy behind a rock waiting for my partner and the clients who were’nt visible. Then the second wave of BLAST and the whole mountain came crumbling down right onto the rapid. At this moment, I pulled out my throw bag from my kayak, ready to pick up anything coming out of that raft. This was the moment of faith where many things actually ran through my head but my heart just knew how to handle the situation. My veins were pumping hard and my stomach felt empty but there was a driving force to survive the day. Within a few seconds I could see the raft surfing a 8 foot wave with Mikael having a smile like he didn’t want to talk about what happened because that would freak the hell out of our clients. I wanted to stop and was not very sure of getting on to my boat to continue the stretch. In any case I had to gobble my fears and focus on the safety of my entire crew on the river. We joked about why we should wear a helmet in the river not only because of rocks underneath the water.
On the way back home from ladakh I decided to drop in at shalabs to paddle the mandakini (my favourite river) for the last time in the season before the monsoons would hit the area. We’d checked the weather and the monsoons were supposed to hit the next day. Just after we paddled about 8 kms of good class 4 rapids on 15 june 2013 we took a break and climbed up a bridge to borrow some beedis from a guy with whom we discussed on improving his river side café. We took out at rudraprayag and I met a group of yatris from Karnataka who were going up to kedarnath shrine and warned them about the weather. The rains hit that evening just when we were going back to shalabs. We had dinner together and I left the next morning by hitching up a ride with a taxi when it was still pouring. What actually was a 5 hour drive to rishikesh took me about 17 hours. There was a traffic jam at this place called Srinagar and when I clarified what happened they told me that a landslide occurred and a few cars in front of us were swept away into the river. I smiled to myself with a faith that landslides will not hurt me. On the way back there were many instances of cars slipping and to see and be a part of the people trying save each other and reach back safe was the most humbling feeling. We’d never seens rains like this and rivers were going mental. They had bridges, cars, houses all kinds of things in them. It really felt like nature was being merciless. Somehow I reached rishikesh by evening and all the road were cut off by then. The rains continued till 18th evening and I’d the best stories for covering up my college internship which is based on climate change and sustainable environments.
I went back to the valley in December to see the changes in the rivers. We paddled the pindar, nandakini, alaknanda and the mandakini and noticed major morphological changes. The debris in and alongside the rivers were a reminder of that there is no stopping in fight to survival.
In the midst of this greed of caring for ourselves and our own families, I’m grateful to get these opportunities to bring out that part of humanity in us which will care for each other without any bias. In the midst of tough situations it is inbuilt in all of us to be a leader and care for everyone. Its maybe that’s why we all want to be kings but we forget that team spirit in our daily lives because we tend to satisfy our needs before we could help others. I’m not asking you to donate your lives to charity but all we can do is try to tell ourselves that we’d live on the edge of our lives to have a happy crowd around us. Everybody chooses something to find love in their own selves. It’s sort of a snooze to realise the beauty around us and to remind ourselves that we are all mortal.
These incidents has brought up a change in my life and would like to thank everything around me however it is in place today. It maybe a very unusual way to develop faith in the superpowerand to thank all the people who have been a part of lives. It helps us find ourselves and we feel gifted to live everyday.
I haven’t experienced a high like this ever ! After all the kayaking and adventure in the river, this was an icing on the cake.