I was thinking about leaving Leh directly the day after climbing Sock Kangri, but met Heidi and Stefan, a German couple, who proposed me to share a car to Srinagar on the 17th and 18th. So I enjoyed the 16th in a more popular activity within Indians: rafting! In four rafts of 9 to 10 people, the 25km down in the Zanskar River from Chilling to Nimmu where the Zanskar meet the Indus River were a lot of fun! Some rapids gave good feeling. I wish we did it faster; I was freezing when not paddling! Maybe in some months, I could met Ted and his rafting team in Tasmania!
We left Leh early in the morning on the 17th (6:30) to enjoy the sightseeing on the way: first Alchi, the oldest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh and then the picturesque Lamaruyu where we enjoyed as much the people working on their field collecting the wheat than the monastery!
We made only a short break in Kargil, the main city between Leh and Srinagar: the busy and not so lovely main bazaar was not our cup of tea. The last leg until Drass was not that easy to drive and finished by night. We were supposed to leave Drass at 6am because the road over the Zoji La is only one way. But the heavy rain and snow all night and morning decided something else. We stayed until 1 pm in Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world (after a place somewhere in Siberia)!
The pass Zoji La is impressive in many ways: first because the road itself is difficult, steep and narrow: the rain made the road too soft, and a car stocked in the mud just blocked the road for an hour! Secondly, already a few km before the pass but mostly after, the landscape is changing radically from the dry Ladakh: everything get more and more green, you leave the rocky ‘moon’ landscape for forest along the mountains!