Claire’s Armour

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Yikes! My armour fell apart. The steel colored shirt that I bought back in 2005 is disintegrating. This is the plain grey shirt that shows up in most photos of me while we’re on tour; it’s my second skin. Though it has gotten softer with the nearly daily washings, it remains my warrior wardrobe, my shell. The two strategically placed front pockets hold i.d., money, notepad, pencil and business cards; with all that, there is no need for a bra. On the left arm, it has a stitch-witch repair from a bushwhacking snag, the same spot that a gypsy girl grabbed in Tblisi, Georgia and wouldn’t let go until Bob found me struggling and yelled at her. On the right forearm, I’ve stitched the placket closed, so my camera slips into the wristband and hangs out of sight.

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Turtuk: End of the Road, Top of the World

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Our main goal in coming to Ladakh was not to bicycle over Khardung La, but to experience the evolving culture of the western Tibetan Plateau in India.

Kardung La was just sort of in the way, or better put, in our path.

But when I learned of the geo/political import of Khardung La, I was enthused for us to ride an important crossroads of history and geography, and for us it proved serendipitous: Over the Khardung La summit is the Tibetan Plateau, which extends to far eastern China in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces where we cycled in 2009. It is also the line between South Asia, and Central Asia where we traveled the Silk Road in 2005, and it was, until the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the main Silk Road trading route into South Asia.

Our immediate goal was to explore the valley of the Shyok River to the disputed political boundary with Pakistan just past the mainly Sufi Muslim village of Turtuk. This requires an Inner Line Permit which we got in Leh; the limit of seven days was an issue for a somewhat remote valley with questionable roads, on a bicycle.

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