A Travellerspoint blog

"Heading Back Home..!!"

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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
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Posted by wattslee 21:30 Archived in India Tagged landscapes mountains buildings people trees snow markets accommodation history traditional india valley forest trip manali Comments (0)

Monsoon Arrives In Manali..!!

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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.!!!!P7030835.jpgP7020780.jpgP7030826.jpgP7030165.jpgP7020815.jpgP7020810.jpgP7020798.jpgP7020791.jpgP7020787.jpgP7020785.jpgP7020760.jpgP7020755.jpgP7020128.jpg

Posted by wattslee 11:59 Archived in India Tagged landscapes mountains buildings people markets accommodation history traditional hotel forest spices cameras Comments (0)

"Three Pairs Of Socks For A Dollar..!!"

Hello India...

semi-overcast 42 °F
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Sat 25th/Sunday 26th.June'16...After contributing a few voluntary hours at the annuaul Lytham Hall Club Day on Saturday, I stayed back & enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon of events at a typical English family friendly village show..Traditional market stalls, donkey rides,food stalls beauty pageants & workshops..Included this year was a vintage car rally too. No doubt about it, it's a popular family day out with the picnic blanket & basket..
Flew out of Manchester Airport on a wet & windy Sunday evening after dropping off the little red Honda Jazz I had rented and with a 2 hour stopover in Dubai I arrived in the steaming 40deg. heat of Delhi & checked in at the appropriately named Bed & Chai guesthouse in the city..It's been three years since I was here last with SongHi and yes.!. I certainly see a few changes since..Airport/Metro & Shopping plaza's as in construction & technology..Though, noise & pollution..Well, I've only been here a day..!!!!
28th...After some heavy rainfall in the morning I braved the 40deg. heat & humidity for a walk to Nehru Place today..Highly considered as a prominent cyber technology & IT hub of South Asia, it's a commercial & business district built in the 1980's and named after Jawaharlal Nehru (the first PM of India)..Built above an underground carpark & considering how popular and busy this complex is, maintenance is at an extreme low even though most of the main structures are still in use.. So, care for a bargain..?!. Well this is the place..Anything from computers, cameras, printer cartridges, digital printing & photocopying to even illegally copied software sold from a cart ... As most trading is done without receipts & bills bargaining is the name of the game here..ACCC/Health & Safety.!. What's that.??..
Thankfully, I am up to date with all the technology I require but I did require some new socks.!!..3 pairs of fake Nike & Adidas sports socks for a dollar...Well, I call that a bargain.!!..and socks sold at an IT market, you may ask.!!..Well so do I but I guess some computer nerds do need socks.!!
Chicken Biryani washed down with a Kingfisher beer for dinner & that's me ready for bed.!!!P6280119.jpgP6280116.jpgP6280113.jpgP6280112

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India (March 2011) - 113

India (March 2011) - 113

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Posted by wattslee 08:46 Archived in India Tagged buildings people planes markets accommodation history traditional hotel it trip software computers phones cameras Comments (0)

"Brews With Views"

Exploring The Forest Of Bowland

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20th & 21st June'16:
Proud of their heritage & rich cultural history & with a reputation for good cuisine.!!..That's what you get when you are in the Ribble Valley & that's where I've been hiding out for the last two days. Basing myself at the YHA in Slaidburn could not have been a better spot to go & explore, whether you're hiking, cycling or even driving. There are a number of quaint & pretty little villages dotted within this valley & unspoilt countryside..Newton-in-Bowland/ Tosside/Bolton-By-Bowland/Gisburn/Pendle Hill & Clitheroe are just a few... and it all lies in an area named the Forest Of Bowland which has been designated as an Area Of Outstanding Beauty in England and rightly so.. The other advantage in this area is that most of the villages or hamlets are within walking distance, & with a pub or inn in each one your quench for thirst could be for all the wrong reasons..There are a few awesome tasting ales being produced at local breweries here.!!!
The hostel holds it's own piece of local history having started out as a coaching inn back in the 17th. century & formerly known as the Black Bull while the local pub opposite, interestingly called the Hark To Bounty was so named after a favourite hound belonging to the Lord of the Manor..
It's been an interesting past weekend too, highlighting an amazing catchup after six years with friends Christina & Malcolm Usher whom we've known when we lived in Tasmania. They coincidentally happened to be holidaying in the UK at the same time & were on there way up to the Yorkshire Dales .. Drinks & tea at "The Shovels" in St. Annes On Sea was the ideal spot to celebrate.
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Dunscar Monroe Ale ((Hark To Bounty) Slaidburn

Dunscar Monroe Ale ((Hark To Bounty) Slaidburn

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Posted by wattslee 07:42 Archived in England Tagged landscapes mountains bridges churches buildings people trees accommodation history traditional hotel sheep valley forest yorkshire yha bowland Comments (0)

"Walking The Wall Of Fame"

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Wednesday: 16th.June '06..
Well the exciting news for the this week since I've been back from the Yorkshire Dales was, I've unexpectedly landed a few hours of voluntary work at Lytham Hall with the restoration group for the National Trust..It may only be 4 to 5 hours in the week & between my travel itinirary, but I've found another way of making new friends & getting to know the locals..
Headed north to the county of Northumberland yesterday for a couple of nights in the YHA Ninebanks & a walk or two along Hadrians Wall... Once again check-in was not till late afternoon so it gave me some time to gather my bearings in the vicinity and squeezed in a long walk along Hadrian's Wall near the historic site of the Roman Vindolanda Fort..
Almost 2000 years old the site in itself is an ongoing research & education facility, with excavations taking place throughout the year and discoveries of various Roman artefacts being found & uncovered continuously..
Thursday has been a full on day with a couple of big walks on the programme..No complaints though, as it turned out to be as expected.. Awesome & Exciting..!!!. A touch weary by the end of the day but nothing that a good local ale cannot cure.!!..The English weather once again behaved for me, though their was a cold bite to the winds coming across from the Scottish side of the wall earlier in the day..
Walking along this piece of Roman history does make you ponder about an empire that probably once covered & ruled a then known world.. Over 80 miles long & six metres in height at certain points, according to historical facts Hadrian's Wall was built by over 15,000 men in under six years & lasted for nearly three centuries.. And all that to try & keep the Scots out..!!!!
YHA Ninebanks is approximately a half an hour's drive away from the nearest point to Hadrian's Wall, though in a beautiful area with some awesome views over the valley..Situated near the site of an old 19th. century lead mine, Uniquely, the hostel too shares a major role in some amazing mining history within the area.!!!!P6170548.jpgP6160536.jpgP6160531.jpgP6160526.jpgP6160512.jpgP6160500.jpgP6160493.jpgP6160488.jpgP6160486.jpgP6160037.jpgP6150452.jpgP6150443.jpgP6150435.jpgP6150434.jpgP6110368.jpg

Posted by wattslee 14:25 Archived in England Tagged mountains buildings people accommodation history roman army wall Comments (0)

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