Archive for July, 2010

It took us 23 hours over 2 days to travel 394km on this road passing over 4 of the highest passes in India, one of which is the second highest motorable road in the world.  There are rivers to ford, landslides to dodge, switchbacks going on forever and moments where you look out the bus window, over the edge at a sheer drop, and think this is it, time to meet our makers.  But with a tea towel on his head and a bottle of whiskey, the driver kept his cool and pushed  on to the end – I’m pretty sure id be drinking whiskey on this road too.

After travelling some other hair raising roads in China I underestimated this one – This is one crazy road.  In fact I told myself there was no way I’ll ever travel this road again – Except on a Royal Enfield, and I plan to do this sometime in the next couple of years after meeting so many people having done this.  I have to admit I was a little jealous of these guys and girls having conquered this mighty road on their own and not in the back of a luxury bus.

We made it though, through the green meadows, lunar landscapes, Nevadaesque canyons, dusty deserts and finally down into the Indus valley and Leh.  We crossed over Rohtang La (3978m), Barlacha La (4892m), Lachulung La (5059m) and finally Taglang La (5325m) the second highest road in the world (the first is just outside Leh) and for you Scottish people reading almost 4 times the height of Ben Nevis.

The only way to really appreciate this experience is to do it yourself –  Just plan another way out!

Some more photos are here


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A good Philosophy

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I thought it was funny.

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Some New Photos

Finally found a nice bar in Old  Manali, called the ‘Lazy Dog’, that’s got WiFi and decent coffee.  So i’ve had a chance to upload some of my photos from Tamil nadu.  Anyway, have a look.

Tamil Nadu April-May 2010

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Walking in the Parvati

This has definitely been one of my favourite places in India.  Soaring green mountains, snow-capped peaks and bright blue skies.  And lots of walking!

We managed a few day hikes, best of which was the walk up to Grahan – I hope I spelled that right.  It’s a steep climb from Kasol up the small river but the walk and the views at the top are worth it.

Village Life goes on as normal here, as it must have done for a long time, the only obvious thing that lets you know you haven’t stepped back in time is the satellite dishes on a couple of the houses.  Theres no time-saving machinery here, everything is still done by hand.  I’m not even sure they would have anywhere to put it – space is a premium when you live on a hillside.

Anyway, heres a few photos.

Parvati Valley – July 2010

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I’m not sure this is good for the food Chain

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We got to Shimla 13 hours after leaving Delhi on the Himalayan Queen.  The toy train from Kalka up the hill (2000m) to Shimla took in views over the plains and the greenery of the Himalayan foothills.  I was so glad to be here, Cool weather, rain even.  Such a feeling not to be stuck lying under a fan or constantly on the look out for aircon – in fact in Delhi it was a treat to go into the ATM booth because you could be cold for just two minutes.

We spent our first night in Shimla taking strolls along ‘The Mall’ with all the rest of the tourists – this seems to be the most popular pastime in Shimla and the strip is thronging night and day.   They even put on a huge Karaoke for those who wanted to make a fool of themselves.  A very festive atmosphere!

The next day we woke up to find everything shut.  All the people milling around, but no shops – or restaurants/bars/everything.  Except for one government restaurant.  Which after we got a seat in we weren’t giving up for love nor money. 

Apparently an all India Bandh had been called by the opposition because of the cut in fuel subsidies.  I can’t really see how this helps the situation for most people, and speaking to some it doesn’t seem to be a popular move, but nobody wants to defy the sometimes militant left-wing parties.  I even heard that Rickshaw and Taxi drivers in Mumbai are afraid to go out in case people vandalise their vehicles – some local buses in Pune were even stoned as they left their depots.  Sometimes things are complicated in the Worlds biggest democracy.

In Shimla the show must go on and today the queens baton relay for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi hits town so all the local kids are out cheering.  And its nice to see everybody having fun and not letting the strike affect things.

By sunset all the shops and restaurants are open again and it’s almost as if the strike never happened.  Bit pointless then?

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