Manali Manali, you beautiful clean green Himalayan town with hot showers!!!!
We arrived in Manali dirty dusty tired and slightly jaded after our day in Delhi and a very bumpy overnight 'luxury' 14 hour bus ride. (I say this on reports from Lauren as I managed to sleep through the worst bits like when we were almost on our side with my head back mouth open - attractive) We were on guard after Delhi and when a dodgy looking guy approached us in a fake leather jacket, tracksuit pants, and smart shoes about his new guesthouse we were instantly suspicious. We said we'd have a quick look and it turned out to be the start of the best few days. The guesthouse was beautiful, Guddu and his family were the nicest people (the jacket was never seen again), the surroundings were amazing, the rooms were clean and the showers hot!!!
It was like heaven!! Such a welcome relief after the hustle and bustle and heat and sweat and noise of Rajasthan and Agra. We had total R & R at the foot of the Himalayas, it was bliss!
Old Manali is a lovely little town, it has a real traveller vibe to it so its very chilled, in fact it felt like we'd left India completely. The people all had a definite Tibetan look about them and whereas further south my blonde hair is noticed, here it drew real open mouthed stares- especially after a good wash!
We spent a day exploring, wandering up to a temple deep in the woods, and another day we crossed the Beas River to visit the town of Vashist where we were very excited to get to go in some natural hot springs.
Well. We'd packed our bikinis, towels, books to read (I honestly don't know WHAT we were thinking - we're in India for goodness sakes?!) and set off. After a fair old trek (uphill) we got pointed in the direction we needed only to come across a small concrete hole in the ground full of water and god knows what surrounded by what looked like prison issue metal fencing. Oh, complete with a guy chiselling away at some bricks next to it and some washing also being done in the springs. Not QUITE the peaceful springs overlooking the mountains we'd imagined!
Needless to say we gave our dip a miss and had beer pancakes and apple pie instead! Kinda balances out!
While here we also had to buy our rail ticket to get us to Varanasi next week. This turned out to be quite a stressful experience! The first day of trying the rail guy with his freaky eyes that didn't look at you shouted at us through his little hole in the wall to go away and come back the next day. It wasn't closing time so we stood and shouted back for a little while (and I may have stamped a bit) but realised this was probably not really helping if we were to return the next day. And having 'Go! Go away' shouted at you over and over is slightly disparaging! We did return the next day and managed to get tickets though so at least it wasn't all for nothing.
We're currently on a mini bus heading to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, where Mr Lama (Dalai) is!! It's further up in the hills I think, we're about 2000m. The road is twisty turny narrow and bumpy. We've had a flat tyre and had to stop for a bit of a landslide. The driver is rude and the man in front of me has insisted in reclining his seat (seriously, how do I always end up behind these people?!?) BUT the scenery is amazing, the suns starting what i think will be a spectacular sunset and we're in the Himalayas baby!!!!!!