After a couple of nights in Kaza I’m keen to get moving, Himalaya By Bike mentions some single track in the high pastures which I’m keen to explore after days spent on dirt roads.
Asking around no one is really sure, probably because very few people ride bikes. Wandering through Old Kaza I spot that Ecosphere advertise mountain biking trips and figured they would be worth an ask. Ishati looks quizzical when I asked her about riding some of the trekking routes. Most of their cycling trips are ran on the roads I’d ridden, after much deliberation between her and some of the guides in the office a couple of options are settled on.
Ecosphere can supply a map for anyone interested for around 10 Rupees. Photo and rough scribblings below outlining two possible trips:
- Kibber – Gette – Kibber
- Kaza – Komic – Demul
Armed with a map I unload the Ogre ready to go day tripping. By morning the wind and rain make it a simple choice to order another coffee hoping the weather will pass while I chat with two Californian biology research students.
Leaving Kaza I meet Tsering a 9 year old boy from Rangrik on his way home. I snap a quick picture of him riding under the ceremonial gate, we ride together for a short while.
He’s smart, and intelligent boy, as we ride together I learn his bike is stuck in first gear, I make gestures to fix it until I realise both shifters are broken. A simple fix were it not for the scarcity of bike parts in this region.
We part company and I ride off in to the gloom, as rain showers come and go on the way to Ki.
Riding in to Ki grass is scattered across the road drying ready to make hay for the winter. As the farmers wife sweeps the roads her son comes across inquisitively for a look at the Ogre.
Ki Gompa stands high above the valley floor, isolated and imposing with its cluster of buildings.
As height is gained views across the valley give a new perspective after the familiarity of the past couple of days spent in Kaza.
The gompa provides education to around 600 children from the local area, sent by their parents for a better education and aspirations of a better life. Sunday sees them playing and I become the source of entertainment as I ride up to the gompa.
The monks reluctantly show me round the monastery more interested in keeping warm by drinking sugary black tea than accepting visitors. Still is not everyday you drink tea with a monk and as we chat he tells me he’s been at the monastery for 20 years, under a vow of chastity and shunning material possessions in search of enlightenment it puts some of our modern day problems in context.
Leaving the monastery I continue to ride further up the valley to Kibber. The village is said to be a fine example of a traditional Spitian village with whitewashed walls and thatched roofs however the ever present modern addition the satellite dish spoils its character.
The village is deserted as people work high above the village, the occasional tractor on the horizon. What was rain in Kaza and Ki turns to snow flurries in Kibber and it seems a sensible decision to turn round and drop to the valley floor than get caught out in changing conditions with a sketchy map.
Its a quick ride back down to Ki and on to Kaza, looking back down the valley snow has noticeably advanced down the hills. A signal, that it’s time to leave Kaza rather than linger and explore further.
Just enough time for some gratuitous shots of the Ogre though!