The next day we managed to catch the ‘semi-deluxe’ bus to Kargil – the bus that we were meant to be on, 24 hours earlier. (Thankfully, Christophe managed to convince me to hold out for this long-awaited bus after I was almost tempted by a chicken coop-on-wheels that was heading our way and willing to give us a lift…!)

And despite the fact that Christophe had to spend half of the 5 hour journey to Kargil travelling backwards on the back of an upturned box, (and the other half of the trip squeezed into a seat with two other sizeable blokes) – we thoroughly enjoyed our first forays into ‘semi-deluxe’ travel.

I certainly had a splendid time sharing a seat up the front and a bagful of Indian sweets with my two new travelling companions – a young monk in crimson robes and matching Nike beanie, and a smiling Ladakhi woman who seemed to be doing a roaring trade selling eggs through the window of the bus at every available opportunity. The three of us spent the journey gripped by the melodrama and woeful hairstyles of the Bollywood epic playing on the mini-TV up front, barely noticing the hours drift by.

(A Bollywood film is the perfect accompaniment to any Indian bus travel, I’ve discovered. For one, a 5 hour trip is perfectly matched by the length of an all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood bonanza (…makes ‘Dances with Wolves’ look like a Tropfest entry); secondly, it makes absolutely no difference that my knowledge of Hindi is limited to about 4 words cos these guys can say so much with a shoulder roll, a head toss and a glide through a wind machine; and finally, the drama on screen is such a welcome distraction from the real drama outside – (both the stomach-churning, perilous drops + ‘Italian Job’-style driving manoeuvres that you are generally treated to when you dare to look out the window)

All in all, the trip was luxury…

(…Though next time, we shall be taking a jeep…!)