The story of an epic journey!
Haridwar Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
So I had left Pushkar feeling relaxed and a lot more settled in India. I was leaving to meet a good friend 'Jai' in Manali. The mad Italian, Russian, Swiss hotel owner had given booked my bus tickets for me. Unfortunately, what seemed like a perfectly logical route on the map proved to me slightly more than a mission in practice.
We left Pushkar in the late afternoon. My journey was to take me to Haridwar where I would take another bus on to my final destination. The sixteen hour journey to Haridwar was intense. Luckily the journey was made a lot more bearable by a lovely Indian man who despite speaking very little English, invited me to eat with his family on the meal stops, which he insisted on paying for - something I was truly humbled by.
We arrived in Haridwar at 9.30am. With the bus bumping around so much on the crazy India roads, the unbearable heat, I arrived sleep deprived, soaked in sweat and my skin felt gritty from all the dust that has been kicked up from the road. On the brightside though, it did give the illusion of a very nice tan.
I made my way from the private bus stand to the state bus stand in order to book my next ticket. Having been directed to the wrong ticket office, on the third attempt I found the one I was looking for. Of course it was closed! Having already waited over an hour I was told it wouldn't be opening until about 12.30pm. Here's come another classic example of the India sense of humor (it will all become clear later). Another guy told me that I wouldn't be able to book my ticket that morning and needed to come back half an hour before the bus was due to depart at 4.30pm.
So I left the bus station and found somewhere to eat in an expensive, but importantly air-conditioned restaurant - a special treat to myself. I ordered some food and as I waited I took a trip to the bathroom to do the best job I could of freshening up. I ate my food, sat and quite literally "chilled" in the restaurant for a while. Time passed. To be honest I remember it dragging, but I couldn't tell you what it was I did between then and 4pm, when I returned to the bus station. I went to the ticket office, and asked for my ticket. The response...the bus was fully booked, I should have made my booking earlier on in the day. GRRRR! The next bus wasn't until 7.30pm that evening, so I had no choice but to book the ticket and carry on waiting. It was at this point where I started to lose my mind...
As it was so hot I decided it would be a good idea to stay at the bus station (remember all this time I was carrying around my big ruck-sack). As I sat on my bag in the waiting area, I started to feel lots of eyes on me. A lot of the people there were just passing through and from places where they never see white people. I chose to ignore this and sat rolling a cigarette. As I looked up a crowd of about 30-40 people had gathered around me in a semi-circle, all staring. As asked if anyone spoke English. On my second request one of the food sellers stepped forward and explained that they had never seen anyone roll a cigarette before. So I sat for about 15mins rolling fags and handing them out to my audience. Eventually I finished the last one for myself, but not until the cigarette was distinguished did the crowd dispersed.
After another three hours I was finally on my way again. If I thought the roads had been bumpy on the way to Haridwar, I was wrong. The 16hrs on windy mountain roads made the previous journey seemed like a cruse down the M6 Toll (a very new and underused motorway in the UK - for those of you that have never been on it, it's about as smooth as a baby's bum after a heavy aplication of baby-oil).
I also ended up losing my water. I had already lost one bottle at the bus station so I grabbed one just before the bus pulled off. There was a guy in front of me holding his head, obviously with a bad headache. I passed him my water and he took some. At some point I drifted off for a little bit. When I woke again the bus had just stopped and was about to pull off again. As it did the guy who had had the headache jumped back on the bus and handed me two things. A mango, and a full bottle of water. Unfortunately despite the man good intentions he had filled it up with tap-water the possible side effects of drinking in, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Also I'd like to see any of you guys try and eat a mango with no knife, no plate, while being thrown half a meter in the air every four and a half seconds - not to mention the sleeping Indian dude on my right shoulder!
After what seemed an eternity and another bus change, we arrived in Manali. When I got to the hotel it took about an 30mins for the people running the place to acknowledge the existence of Jai who had already been staying there for a few days. Once they had, I then waited a further hour and a half for Jai to get back from town, however this time, it was cold - jumper (which having come from just hot places was in the very bottom of my bag) cold. Also it had started to rain.
At half eleven Jai finally turned up. My journey had taken me 37 hours.
A note from the author
I just thought I'd take a moment to thank everyone who is keeping up with these blogs. I hope you are enjoying reading them, as much as I am writing them. I am extreamly behind, but I will do utmost to catch up as soon as I can. I just wanted to note that very little exaggeration or embelishment of the truth has been used so far. It has all been written as my memory serves me. Just to give you an idea of how crazy this country is I though you might be interested to know that in the last week I have been run-over 5 times. Twice by cycle-rickshaw; Twice by motocycle; And once by cow!