AsiaIndiaManali

Day 18: Manali

Manali Travel Blog

 › entry 19 of 26 › view all entries
Manali Heights hotel.

An older man with a stick simply stands there with a small pail, whimpering soundlessly. Passing these wraith-like figures are the substantial, muscular, Western backpackers who home in on these places, looking for cheap accommodation while sporting designer shades that would cost a street mender six months' wages.

Poverty is corrosive, but it's always worse when it is found side by side with wealth. Occupants of shanty towns in the Philippines or South America are as poor as this but they have their own, fierce, communal pride, and they don't have rich foreigners walking their streets every day.

View from the hotel in Manali.

 

Michael Palin – Himalaya

 

There must have been something seriously wrong with that Blue Cheese sauce I had at Johnson's cafe because around midnight everything left my body in an explosive wave of diarrhoea. A second wave announced itself when I woke up the next day. Fortunately the worst seemed to have passed by then, enabling me to have a day with relative freedom of movement.

 

We had breakfast at eight o' clock, just in time to see the rest of the group leave for a 6 hour trekking.

Bridge at Manali.
We had cancelled our participation and although weather would be fine today (until the evening, when the skies opened up again) we would later hear that the trekking had been mostly uphill, and thereby being far from entertaining. We'd taken the right decision to have another relaxed day.

 

We walked to The Mall past the spot were yesterday several curious monkeys had been watching us and following us at a safe distance (for us or them?). They weren't here today. We used the relative quietness in Manali at this time of day to go to the ATM and go on the Internet. At half past 11 we took a tuk-tuk across the Beas river and up the hill at the other bank towards Vashisht (which indeed sounds a lot like ‘fascist’, doesn’t it?).

Temple at Vashisht.
Vashisht is known as one of the best traveller centres in the Kullu valley. It attracts three types of people: Indian tourists that come to bathe in the public baths (that mostly resembled small run down swimming pools), backpackers looking for dirt-cheap accommodation and hippies chilling out or taking off to some other universe with the local soft drug 'chara'.

None of that for us, we explored the town and its surroundings and the small temples at the town's centre. There were two 'mandirs', one of which was two stories high and judging from the laundry that was drying on the top floor, somebody actually lived in it. Other temples were dedicated to Rama and Shiva.

 

Zig-zagging to avoid the countless cow droppings and their creators we walked down the path at the back of the village, all the time being loyally followed by one of the towns dogs (named Rabies by Judith, like she called every dog since getting three expensive shots against this disease). Every time we passed a wall of stacked stones various lizards that were basking in the sun scurried away.

Temple at Vashisht.
Some of these were as big as an underarm!

Eventually we ended up in the Rainbow Cafe, a nice spot overlooking the town and its temples. This must have been one of the most relaxed places of this vacation, featuring nice Buddha Bar-like lounge music and staff that seemed to have left this planet long ago. ;-) We had lunch here (tomato soup and toast with butterscotch honey) and chilled out for a while before walking back to Manali. The Lonely Planet recommended a footpath down stone steps that brought us quickly to the Beas River, avoiding all the jeeps and tuk-tuks on the main road. We passed the Tibetan colony where prayer flags were stretched between houses and the banks of the river and crossed the bridge, arriving at Manali's bus station.

 

We ended up drinking beers and watching the activity from the Khyber bar overlooking Manali's main junction, watching the tuk-tuks and jeeps, tourists and beggars, shoe-shine boys and Indian honeymooners.

Temple at Vashisht.
The toilet at the Khyber was broken and after using the one at the restaurant next door I struck up a conversation with one of the shoe-shine boys. Wearing sandals there wasn't much for him to shine, but I started wondering what kind of perspective for the future a kid like this had. 'What do you want to do when you grow up?' 'Shine more shoes'. 'Forget about shoes, what if you could pick anything ... What would you do?' He got confused. 'Okay, forget about this life. What if you would have a lot of money in your next life? What would you do?' He told me he would buy a car and be a taxi driver. Not the biggest ambition a Westerner might think of, but something that this boy could dream of for his next life. I gave him some change, telling him that this could just be the start of this own taxi and that he'd needed to hang on to that ambition.

 

Slightly intoxicated we took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, where I ended up chatting with Emile and Paul on the balcony of their room, watching the low hanging clouds pass by and the heavens open up again. Tomorrow we would leave Manali so Judith and I decided to pack and have dinner at the hotel (our sizzlers turned out to be as good as at any other place we'd eaten at), take a last warm shower (it might well be the last one for a week) and were in bed by half past nine.

Temple at Vashisht.

bamiforall says:
Maybe your sauce was with GOUDA turned blue????
Posted on: Aug 20, 2008
Devika1985 says:
Rainbow cafe klinkt erg cool!
Posted on: Aug 19, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Manali Heights hotel.
Manali Heights hotel.
View from the hotel in Manali.
View from the hotel in Manali.
Bridge at Manali.
Bridge at Manali.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Temple at Vashisht.
Exploring Vashisht.
Exploring Vashisht.
Big basking lizards.
Big basking lizards.
View over Vashisht.
View over Vashisht.
Walkong back to Manali.
Walkong back to Manali.
Prayer flags near Tibetan colony a…
Prayer flags near Tibetan colony …
The Mall, Manali.
The Mall, Manali.
Tuk-tuk navigating the cattle at M…
Tuk-tuk navigating the cattle at …
Manali
photo by: debrasiegel