Monkeying around

Trip Start Jul 02, 2007
1
9
38
Trip End Aug 03, 2007


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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, July 8, 2007

Rudely woken at 5.30am by what sounded like someone beating a sheet of metal with a stick.
Turned out to be monkeys on the roof.
They are everywhere - the males grinding their teeth at each other and getting the dogs all excited, the smaller females and youngsters sneaking up on you and creating a paranoid feeling the second you step out your room. They steal things, so the authorities are rounding them up and sending them to Tajikistan - who apparently can't get enough of them. Interesting...

Hee! I can see the Himalayas from my window. I think. They are hazy. But whatever.

Shimla view


After some photos I set off for a place to ask about trekking. They proposed a shortish one in the Kinnaur area through to Spiti, which I had heard to be hard, but there are pictures of people doing it and they don't look like fell runners or anything.

As I sat thinking, the Belgians arrived, with irritating guy from yesterday in tow. I think he actually works here, but either way he pisses me off. He clung to us yesterday and apparently stuck with the Belgians today too. When they were talking trekking and they mentioned having me along as a possibility, dude butted in and effectively included me in the group [and therefore his charge] which annoyed me no end. No I don't need you, piss off. He may be trying to help, but you can bet he's getting something out of it, and besides, it's a principle thing: my rule is generally, if they approach you and do the 'where you from, what you doing, I can arrange a trek' spiel and then do not leave your side, I am not interested. Full stop. Irritating buggers. Interestingly he hasn't bothered me when I've been alone today, maybe he got the negative vibes...

It may be a harsh way of doing it, and it risks deterring the genuine nice ones, but I get a feeling about people and I trust that instinct. Also, it makes the whole thing a lot easier and reduces the persistent annoyance.


Anyway, the Belgians expressed an interest in the same trek, but with added jeep beforehand going to some places of interest. They went off to decide in their rooms - as with most groups of 5 decisions take a lot of talking over. When they returned they said they had a similar offer from a place down the hill which they felt better about. Jenny told me I was welcome to come along as long as there was room for 6 in the jeep. I said I'd come down to check it out myself. After a few minutes of thinking [the 6 in a jeep would mean a slight squish, everyone is ok with that as it is offset by having the price split 6 ways instead of 5, but the 6th person will not have a window seat. As the tag along, this is obviously me, but I can cope. Also, I had originally planned to just do the trek and do the other bit myself.] I decided it was worth it, and joined in.

Then began the big palava - first I needed my passport to obtain an inner-line permit for the area near Tibet. I must start to take my passport with me, but I don't like to carry it. So, up the hill. I also got my visa to get money out for it. Except it didn't work. Hmm. It worked in Delhi, so maybe the bank think it is stolen? So back up the hill again, this time for my emergency credit card. This worked, thank god, but only let me take out a certain amount. The rest I had to change from my emergency Pounds. That's another trip up the hill. The bank wouldn't change it without my passport, which was off getting an inner line permit. Argh. We leave at 8 on Monday morning, and tomorrow being Sunday no banks are open. I found the Belgians who had collected the passports already and had mine. Fortunately the bank closes at 8pm. Phew! Then I had to go up the hill again to collect my laundry. But I guess it's good practice for the trek.

At 8pm we all met up at the police guard post, where a policeman stands with a silly hat on. It's a bit like a turban except it has what looks like a fan-folded napkin splayed out of the top.

Then dinner - again at Himani's cos it is sooo good. It was only spoilt slightly by the overeager waiter who rushed forward to help and knocked my lime soda [real this time] over. After dinner the bill arrived with a bowl of aniseed seeds [called sonf] which are chewed. Quite nice really.

Then we wandered slowly back along the Ridge. It is a wide open area where people mill and watch people watching them. Hawkers [of the nice kind] sell toys - LED lights on a pen like thing with a hook, pinged high in the air by an elastic band and allowed to fall slowly by little wings. And long sausage balloons which are inflated and let go at ankle level to pfffft around loudly. It's a nice atmosphere and reminds me of the Bund in Shanghai. The 'older' Belgians [all teachers it turns out] bought some LEDs, and we continued on. A little stall selling red and white bits on a leaf caught our eye. It looked like pomegranate pieces with parmesan sprinkled on top in a vivid green leaf with syrup. It was wrapped up, coated in very thin tin foil and skewered on a cocktail stick with a glace cherry. Smelt like Turkish Delight. Tasted like a combination of toothpaste and floral toilet cleaner. Only Dirk and I really ate it, amid much hilarity as they fell apart and the tin foil stuck to Dirk's lips. We had been advised by the previous taster [a woman from Punjab] not to stick them in whole. Bless her, couldn't chew it. I was laughed at when I would eat the gross sweet [called mitha paan I think] but not the glace cherry. I don't like cherries, made perfect sense to me!

And then up the hill one final time, and to bed. Despite all the exertion I still cannot get to sleep. Very annoying.

Note to self: do not take pictures of the monkeys. The locals are dismissive ["There are plenty around here." No really?] and the monkeys get pissy.
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