Crossed the Himalayas

Trip Start Aug 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

After one of the most exhausting, but also most exhilarating bus trips I've ever experienced, I've finally arrived on the other side of the Himalaya's, in a place called Manali to be exact. The relatively modest 495 km route leads across some of the highest motorable passes in the world, and the steady climb from Leh (at 3500 meteres) to the first pass at 5200 metres, quite literally left you gasping for breath. Departing at 5:00 AM in the morning, the bus was supposed to reach Keylong in Himachal Pradesh by 20:00 PM... but didn't. So we ended up staying overnight in a sort of highway cafe slash trucker stop, where beds went for 50 rupees a head, and bathroom facilities were non-existent (well, they were, but behind the tent). The next morning was another early start at 5:00 AM and we arrived at 14:00 PM in Manali.

Quite notable for my first few weeks in India, is the total non-existence of any Dutch tourists. Having seen quite a few different spots in the world, and having come across quite a few Dutchies on the route, the grand total for India currently stands at just two (my neighbours Jos and Eline in Leh), but even the Belgians outstrip the number of Dutch. Another eye-opener is the worldwiseness of the foreigners I'm meeting up with. I pride myself on having seen just about every continent for a number of times, but here, if you haven't spent six months in South America or aren't spending your twelfth holiday in India, you just don't count!

First impressions of Manali are that it's a backpackers heaven. All number of facilities, laundry, trek, internet, bakery, restaurant are all crammed into this small town, and the part I'm staying in (Old Manali) is literally packjammed full with Israeli backpackers (even had to change the settings to this computer to prevent this message being written in Hebrew). Everything you've missed from home is available from your favourite brand of chocolate spread to banana pancakes. After a full week of living strictly vegetarian and alcohol free, I was able to enjoy Kingfisher beer and a feast of chicken tikka masala with rice and a garlic and cheese paratha (for the incredible price of 2 quid, don't you just love India?).

This morning, I awoke to the sound of someone taking a very very long shower, until I realised it wasn't in fact a shower, but the rain falling. I didn't even know that it rained in India! Time for a days worth of chilling, I'd say and therefore an extra long edition of my posts, and a number of uploaded pictures (don't know why the quality is so lacklustre, but it's probably the compression rate).

Weather's bucked up, so I'm off for a Kingfisher!


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barneyinaus on

Wake Up
Sorry young Gary but 5:00 AM is always in the morning, 5:00 PM is the one at night.

noham on

pracitce your Hebrew
I seem to remember that you're completely fluent in Hebrew - did you try the ooga ooga song on the people there?

peterjones on

Time gentlemen please
Gary - never mind 5am morning what about 20.00pm - did your dad teach you nothing - it's too late now
Keep enjoying
Peter & Sue

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