September 7, 2012
The bus was to leave at 6:00 AM in the morning, so I woke up at around 5:45 and got fresh. There was breakfast available in the canteen – bread, butter and jam. Grabbed a bite and got onto the bus which left at around 6:30. Again, wanted to enjoy the landscapes, but dozed off soon.
We were told that the bus would reach Manali at around noon, but the road on this stretch was pretty bad, and it was also raining. This made the drive long. I woke up at around 11:00 and clicked a few more pictures. At around 12:00 PM, we reached Rohtang Pass, were the bus had to stall because there was a landslide ahead, and the army had to come in to clear the roads. The landscape here was amazing, so clicked a lot of pics. Ate some Maggi and did some time pass for almost 2 hours before the bus finally got back on track. The roads ware still messy, and the drive was scary.
We finally hit the outskirts of Manali, from where people were Paragliding. It took a few more minutes before the bus finally reached he New Manali bus station at around 3:00 PM.
Once we picked up our bags, most of us started walking towards Old Manali. The Czech girl (Maya) led me, the Indian lady from Mumbai (Glenda) and the Swiss guy (Andreas) to a small guesthouse on top of a hillock. Beauce I had already made arrangement through Couchsurfing, I bid farewell, and moved further to find my couch.
My host was a local guy (Biplob) who seemed nice on phone. He was to meet me at a restaurant on the Old Manali road, and gave me directions to the same. Finding this restaurant was quite a task, and tired me out because I had to walk up and down a hill a couple of times before I finally found him. He was with a bunch of foreigners and gave me a key to a room located somewhere in the interiors. He gave me odd directions and asked me to find the room myself. After a couple of great Couchsurfing experiences, this really felt weird. Anyways, I walked through small bylanes for another 10 minutes to find a place called Double Dutch, which happened to be a guest house. I found my room and it turned out to be a proper guest house single bed room. A little curious as to why I was being offered such a room, I called Biplob and asked his if I had to pay, and he casually said yes, 150 bucks per night. I was surprised for Couchsurfing hosting is supposed to be free. Annoyed, I decided not to stay, and walked back to the guesthouse where Maya, Glenda and Andreas were staying.
There were 3 available rooms at this place, all occupied by my fellow friends. I asked the uncle to arrange something, and he managed to clear out their personal room on the second floor for me. For 250 bucks, it had a double cot bed, television and hot water. The best part was the beautiful view of the mountains from the verandah.
We were all very tired, but it was too soon to call it a day. So Glenda, Andreas and I ventured out to find this hot spring in New Manali. After another long walk, we finally wound this small hot spring in a residential area. There was a tank around it to store the water, and people were taking bath in it. It actually looked pretty filthy. A little disappointed, we started our walk back.
Dead tired by now, all four of us decided to order a meal at the guesthouse. We ordered for roti and Rajma, which tasted mediocre. After chatting for a while, it was time to hit the sack!
Day 15: Leh-Keylong
Day 17: Manali