05.07.2016 - 10.07.2016
5th _ 10th. July.... Plenty of walking & exploring the region in and around the towns of both New & Old Manali on either side of the Beas River..Both sides have their unique differences, with the new being the more business & city hub while Old Manali has the heritage & cultural charm of the past, yet inhabited by many more western/european tourists.. I have certainly met & had a coffee or two with some interesting & colourful characters in the few days I've spent here..From restaurant owners & shop owners to a tailor who repaired my pants (40 rupees) & a barber who gave me an awesome haircut for (300 rupees)..Understanding & speaking the native language has obviously been of a huge advantage..It still thrills me to see the look of shock on some faces when I break into my hindi.!! Amigos German Bakery has still been one of my favourite little cafes for a stopover coffee break or a snack through the day..
If you'd like a feel of serenity & calm from the noise & constant din of the city of Malani, an entrance fee of just 20 rupees will take you through a forest of ancient pines & natural woodland between the new & old towns .. Owned & cared for by the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the state of Himachal it's the ideal spot for some much needed "alone" time & space.!!
Having been offered a lift with the general manager of the Devlok Hotel hotel Arvind Thakur, I checked out a day earlier than previously booked to make my way to Palampur.. Well, on the consideration that the intended departure for an approximately six hour drive from Manali would start at 10:30pm, through unfortunate circumstances & delays we got moving at around 2:30am and reached the town of Amirpur at approximately 9:30am, where we parted company for my bus journey to Palampur and Arvind had another 4 hour drive to Chandigarh after spending a short while with his family .. Two bus changes, the second being at around two hours in public tranport & a bus that probably found every pothole on these crazy roads in the mountains.. and then a one kilometre walk .. cos' I made the mistake of getting off a couple of stops too early.. Eventually, an exhausting three hours later it was with a sigh of relief to put this journey behind me & be with the familiar faces & surroundings of the Darang Tea Estates.. I could not have timed my arrival any better.. with a quick shower & a freshen up, it was lunch and a rest to catch up on some much needed sleep.!!..Looking back now I can smile, but it's probably a journey I would rather not try again.. Stocking up & pinching apples & pears (in season) with the odd tea stop, on the drive through some of the orchards in the district of Kullu at 3am in the morning added to the excitement & broke the monotony of the journey.. Ah well.!..Kids will be kids with the joys of