The road North and Manali
Manali Travel Blog› entry 2 of 13 › view all entries
September 18th, 2007 – by: cja17
The much-touted aircon on our coach lasted 4 or 5 hours before giving up, so we stood by and watched as the driver and his assistant happily troubleshot the problem in pitch darkness - our first introduction to Indian resourcefulness and determination. The light from our headtorches gave them a fighting chance at a fix, but it soon failed again - an electrical problem of some sort with the knock-on effect of limiting our headlights to a weak glow, not that this slowed the driver down one bit.
Dawn found us in the foothills of the Himalaya - a strange combination of mountain views and humid temperatures which felt very alien - and by breakfast we were well into the Kullu Valley and within sight of Manali. With a fortnight of hard biking and camping ahead of us, Manali was the perfect traveller-friendly starting point to unwind after the long haul plane and bus epic. I didn't expected to find superb bruschetta, but there it was in Old Manali's Pizza Olive; I didn't expect to be tempted by the BEST warm chocolate chip cookies, but there they were at Dylan's coffee shop; I did expect to be blown away by great fried momos, and the Tibetan Kitchen didn't disappoint. Not exactly an authentic Indian experience, but it was a restful few days to prepare for the journey ahead.
Manali base camp was the Sunshine Guesthouse, a characterful Raj-era hill station property in Old Manali, a kilometre or so up the hill from, you've guessed it, New Manali. Auto rickshaws were twice the price going up as on the way down as the driver simply switched off the engine and let gravity take over. After a couple of days exploring the hils and nearby Vashisht, a short day ride allowed us to check the bikes were OK, but sadly ended with a crash for fellow rider Kerry, and the end of her biking trip before it really began - a reminder of the potential for mishap (literally) around every corner, or in Kerry's case in the middle of a corner as a patch of dust pulled her front wheel from underneath her. One final group meal included my last beer for a fortnight and were all ready for the off.
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