Day 16: Bus to Manali
Manali Travel Blog› entry 17 of 26 › view all entries
This would be the last day on the bus for a while and because it was Independence Day in India Kirsten had decided to get on our way as soon as possible. Arriving at breakfast at we found that the hotel hadn't really prepared anything yet. Fortunately they got busy immediately and although this was a far from relaxed start of the day we managed to arrive at the bus on time. There however a bit of confusion developed over the luggage (was everything actually brought in from the two hotels?). After a lot of counting and shifting bags we were on our way to Manali.
We left Keylong and crossed the bridge over the Bhaga river at Tandi, passing our last place of residence from the other side of the valley. The surroundings again were much greener than we had seen earlier. Being on the other side of the
We passed several small villages (Gondla and Sissu) before taking a coffee and tea break at Koksar shortly after ten. At we started climbing the last pass of our journey, the Rothang-La (3975 m). Peanuts compares to where we came from! Well, not for the bus. It seemed to struggle harder than ever before. Shortly before we reached the pass where an ice-cold wind was blowing and view was limited by the misty clouds. This didn't keep us from climbing all the way to the top where several bleak and wet prayer flags were spotted. One more time we made three walks around the flags, shouting out 'Kiki Soso! Larga-Lo!' (actually, only Anneke and I finished the third round; the rest had already fled back to the bus, shielding from the cold).
And down again we went, visibility limited to several meters. After about an hour, passing a small glacier and crossing a road that seemed even worse than the one on the other side of the mountain (I now know what a pinball feels like), we dipped below the clouds again. The sun was breaking through in the valley ahead and the shade of green was brighter than I had seen in the past two weeks.
At we reached Mihri with it's collection of small shops selling stuff like mittens for people going into the mountains, and dhabas (small restaurants). We sat down in one of the latter for a very welcome and extremely satisfying tomato soup and Aloo Dum (potatoes in a ‘mildly’ spicy curry). A nice lemon and honey tea was the icing on the cake.
At we were back in the bus for the last 50 kilometres to Manali.
As we've come to expect of Paradise Travel/Sawadee, the hotel was another pros and cons affair. Pros: nice rooms and warm showers (the first warm shower in two weeks and shampoo sachets in the bathroom, joy!). Cons: like in Leh a location bloody far removed from the actual town centre, as in: not walkable.
After checking how much clean clothing I needed for the rest of this vacation we sorted out the laundry and dropped it off at the reception. At everybody gathered in the lobby and we jumped in two taxi busses to be dropped off in the city centre. We decided to have dinner at the Chopsticks restaurant since it was the most recommended place in the Lonely Planet, and rightfully so. The food was excellent (I had fried chicken momo's and Judith and I shared our sate chicken and crispy honey chicken). Atmospheric Tibetan chants were played on the stereo and the decoration was also in Tibetan Buddhist style. We were 'safely' positioned beneath a portrait of the Dalai Lama and a picture of the Potala palace in