Return to Manali/Vashisht
Trip Start Dec 03, 2005
52Trip End Jun 20, 2006
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Back to the place I left by Jeep again. It was an agonizing experience trying to book the return jeep (shared taxi) to do the 18 hour drive back through the pass in the Himalayas. Mainly this was caused and aggravated by some of the tour/travel agents, who mistakenly represent themselves as agents to book discounted tickets on shared taxis to Manali. One such agent in particular caused me to miss the journey and practically get stranded 1 km from my hotel down a very steep hill which I could not carry my bags up -neither could I return by taxi as this was at 3.30 am - 2 AM is the normal time of departure for this trip. This same agent nearly caused me to miss getting a ticket at all the following day - telling me to wait until 5.30 PM to try and buy it - there is clearly no way, and I emphasize for anyone who ever attempts this journey out of Leh, there is no way to use any shared taxi or ticket tout however official his tour office may be, other than one provided by the taxi union. I lost almost 2 days because of this. It is something their tourist board needs to take more control over.
I was pretty full of apprehension about the altitudes again, as in getting sickness going quickly over the high passes, since that had done me in on the way up there. However I decided to not have any beer or alcohol the previous night, and eat sensibly (filling soup with plenty vegetables) plus drink lots of water, and definitely not take the altitude sickness pills I had bought. I was completely fine, able to enjoy some meals at the resting points we stopped at on the way.
Met a nice couple plus their friend, both males from Portugal and the girl friend from Brazil. They had made friends with the same English and Latvian guys I had met whilst in Leh, and who were travelling back in a different jeep. I remembered them arguing it out at the Taxi union booking office, trying to change the jeep they had been assigned to.
I'm not surprised it couldn't be worked out because the guy running this entire taxi booking show, on behalf of the union, was the most unhelpful, stubborn obnoxious little hitlerite that ever one could come across. Even when I asked to buy a ticket, he would not budge from the position that all the taxis going to Manali were full. The empty ones that brought people up, of which they were many, I asked: why could he not allocate one of those as it was going back anyway? I got various answers including making sure the money went to the drivers from his state, since Manali is in a different state (and similarly has its own taxi union, although prices seem to be less "fixed" and better for tourists who don't need to go there to book a ticket). Basically he is the man to allocate the taxis, which he will only do if he fills it with 7 people - so he holds everyone's onward departures in the palm of his hand, and could hold you virtual prisoner until he decides to do the paperwork for another taxi. This was two and a half hours before his office closed, yet at no time did he suggest I leave a contact number, hotel for example, that he could ring if he got more travellers in ones/twos or whatever, wanting to go the same day as me. That's what I asked him to do; and then slowly I got some cooperation, resulting in a ticket to go that night 20 mins after visiting him.
Whinge whinge, ok, but I needed to get that off my chest.
Don't forget to click on thumbnails above for more pics - here's a few of my favourites for your convenience:
Being befriended at mountain rest station
Sheep being herded