01.07.2016 - 03.07.2016
30th. June'16>Departed a rain drenched Kashmiri Gate Bus Station in Delhi at 7pm for the 11.5hr. road trip to the hills of Manali in Himachal Pradesh..As comfortable as a bus journey can be on long trips & especially India, I was impressed with service, punctuality & cost for a top rated company like Himachal road Transport Corp..Good drivers with good road skills, especially on the winding roads in the higher mountain regions...
Arrived around 9:30am in Manali a touch weary as I am more of a napper than a sleeper on long journeys and not one to miss much when travelling too.!!..Had to wait awhile for my room at check in for Hotel Devlok, but that's okay as I new I had arrived early & my reserved room was not ready..I was offered an interim room while I waited, which was quite unexpected & thankful..Late lunch/early dinner and I felt like an early night after catching up on emails & Facebook.. Wifi can be a little hit & miss here at times, so patience is the name of the game..They say it's due to weather, location & power cuts..No choice I guess, just go with the flow.!!... Caught up for a coffee with friend Bhuvi, who runs her own trekking & mountaineering school here, before she takes a group from Bangalore on a nine day hike up to Hampta Pass tomorrow..
2nd.July'16..Took the short stroll up to the Hidimba Temple this afternoon..intentionally the idea was more to try for a few candid/street style shots of the nearby markets & stallholders with the new OMD Pen-F & with the 45mm F1.8 lens attached, it seems like the perfect combination.. Okay that's enough of the technical stuff.!!..
Rain & more rain this evening..it's the monsoon season up here in the Himachal mountains & fortunately I decided not to do the long hike to Hampta Pass with Bhuvi this time..Will plan it for the better season next time...Highlight of the day has to be spending the evening for dinner with Bhuvi & her family...There's never anything to beat good home cooking & this time it was all Himachali style.!!.
3rd.July'16..An early breakfast & dodged the morning showers for a walk into town for a look see...As it's a major starting point for a number of hikes & other outdoor activities Manali is a typical tourist hill station, especially for the national population who's main aim is to distance themselves from the warmer temperatures of the south...have met a few from Mumbai, Delhi & Gujarat..and have received a few Facebook friend requests too..Just love the looks on faces when I break into the their national language .. Speaking Hindi in India as a tourist has certainly been an advantage, 'cos apart from breaking the ice in conversation it also lessens the risks of being ripped off or overcharged at times.!!.Twice the standard fee for a taxi or scooter rickshaw is the norm when they see you as a tourist, so it pays to haggle & not accept the first price before you agree to the ride.!!!..
Came across a great little cafe called "Amigos" German Bakery & owned by Tibetans (work that one out?!?!) just a ten minute walk to the city from the hotel...A main serve of momo's & masala chai will set you back a mere $4:00 & it also solved my hotel internet woes with free wifi as well...Guess where I'll be having lunch again tomorrow and the day after and the day after.......???!!.. Checked my emails/Facebook posts & got my all important Skype chat with my lovely SongHi back home. Happy now.!!!!