Manali: We need Paved Roads and a Heater
Manish and I weren’t sure what to expect prior to heading out for Manali and I am pretty sure neither of us realized we would be hanging out in a tiny car for 9+ hours, but we were willing to make the most of it – I mean, we were all in India together and this was a trip of a lifetime. So bring it on! To our dismay, the “shortcut” we took to get out of Chandigarh ended up adding an additional 4 hours to our trip. I know, I know – paved roads + India is a foreign concept, but the road we were on pretty much dirt and a bunch of rocks. We were dreading a flat tire, but the Alto managed to pull through! Anyhow, once we got on the main road – we were set. Driving up, down and around the mountains, ears popping, chai at random hotels, jamming to boot leg karaoke cd’s from Thailand and snacking on a never ending supply of Lay’s Masala Chips & Kurkure – that’s the life, isn’t it?!?! We reached Manali at night and stayed at the Iceland Hotel (one of Nick’s friend’s owned it). It was cold, the rooms were wooden and no internal heating (damn that South Indian Crew that was staying at our hotel shooting a movie and jacked all of the space heaters). So what’s a group of fine young adults from Houston to do now?!?!?! Sit under blankets (fingers crossed that they were clean), pour a couple of drinks, play several rounds of Speed using the fine pack of Estee Lauder cards we bought and use the coffee pot as a sauna of course!
Waking up in Manali: Paragliding, Nausea and Rohtang Pass
Since we reached Manali at night, we weren’t sure what to expect when we woke up in the morning and we sure were surprised – what a view! We were surrounded by mountains, fresh water streams and a lovely cow mooing over in the distance. Words don’t do justice, but the pictures sure do. We planned on climbing up the mountain to Rohtang Pass, which would take us roughly 4-5 hours. The trek up was no joke – lots of tourist cars and unpaved roads slowed us down. Our first stop on the way up was to get some breakfast, where Manish and Nick were approached by one of the locals who asked if they wanted to paraglide down one of the mountains. If And being the adventurists that they are and after negotiating the right price (you can’t do anything in India without negotiating, it just doesn’t seem right), they went for it. Kanchan and I have a fear of heights and the thought of jumping off a mountain peak didn’t sit well with us, so we passed. The boys went began their trek up with the local and we stayed behind and checked out the scenery below. Once the boys were done, we started the trek back up and as expected, the air and nausea kicked in the higher we went up. After we reached Rohtang, we had a couple of options: take a ride on some Yaks, drive back down the mountain or continue the trek up. Since Thanks to Raid the Himalaya, Nick knows the terrain EXTREMELY well, so we decided to push it and continue the trek up in our little Alto. After driving for a couple more hours, everyone started getting tired and thanks to the crappy “roads,” our nausea kicked back in…so we decided to go back to the hotel. Five hours later, we finally made it back. We had dinner at the hotel and continued the festivities from the night before. Luck seemed to be on our side because we got a space heater! The boys ended up passing out and Kanchan and I continued our shenanigans from the night before (as you can see in the pictures, lol).