Sunday 27th March 2011
Well there’s not a lot to report about yesterday (Sunday) except to say how sorry I am that I left the peace and calm of Old Manali to be writing this in the Ajay Cafe – a little haven from the heat and chaos of Paharganj in New Delhi.
I took the night bus to Chandigarh last night – leaving at 19:30 and arriving at 05:30. At least it arrived in a bus station – apparently there are several and this is the Sector 43 bus station which roughly translated means in the middle of nowhere. I had no choice but to take a rickshaw – there were no other means of transport at 5:30 this morning – and very glad I was to be leaving Chandigarh, which roughly translated means Milton Keynes, so soon after arriving. But more of that later – on the Monday page!
After the routine late breakfast I wandered around town for a couple of hours in the afternoon, had lunch and a shave (oops – I just saw this stranger in a mirror in bad need of a tidy up so I treated him to a 40/- shave in Old Manali!) and then sat in the late afternoon sunshine at the Guest House before walking slowly back down to Manali for the last time, but not without going to say goodbye to my Yak. Im not sure how much it will cost to have it delivered to Newbury though so this could be a last farewell.
Stopped at Johnsons for a last chance of a hot spiced apple juice and a pizza, then took my place on the Semi-Delux A/C bus. At least this meant getting a seat to myself, even if my neighbour kept encroaching on it.
This is the first night bus I have taken for a while and it was certainly a good idea to get out of the mountains overnight. We retraced the route through to Mandi where we stopped at 11pm at a roadside restaurant who had laid of a special Bus Meal for 120 rupees. Had I known, I wouldnt have eaten earlier, as this meal looked very good value – self service all freshly cooked specially for our arrival. It is very notable that the 7 hour trip from Mandi to Manali in local buses took only 3.5 hours on the non stop version.
Its impossible to say how much sleep I got on this bumpiest of bumpy rides – but it can be measured in minutes, not hours. Every now and then the bus stopped at an unlit bus station for a few minutes, and once we even pulled in to the roadside for 15 minutes. The descent from Mandi was another stunning road and I can remember the final descent to the flat plains which was very unusal as suddenly the mountains had gone and we could see for miles.
I hate to think how busy this part of the road gets in daytime as through the night we were nose to tail all the way down and so it confirmed what I good idea to do this at night had been.
The rest of the trip was uneventful – the driver who drove us all the way for over ten hours was actually one of the best I’ve had so far and the final 40 km or so was over very quickly on what amounts to a toll motorway – at least in part – quite unusual for India.
So back to Delhi – right now I wish I was back up in the lovely peaceful Kullu Valley!