Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Trekking in Himalayas

I arrived in Manali this morning on a rickety bus from Chandigarh. Once I was done with everything I need to do to plan the trip to Australia, two days ago, I packed my bags and flew to Chandigarh yesterday morning. From Chandigarh I had reserved a "deluxe" bus to get me to Manali today morning. For those not in the know, a deluxe bus in India is slightly more expensive and promises more comfortable seating. However, when I arrived to board the bus a very different looking bus greeted me. I was told that the original bus had broken down and this was the replacement. It was not "deluxe."

This bus broke down about 2 hours before Manali, at 4 in the morning, and I hopped on to another bus passing by after about an hour of wait. These non-deluxe buses are exquisite pieces of minimality. Everything just barely works. Seats have cushions but they flatten to paper-thinkness once you sit on them. Almost every screw, bolt and frame creaks, rattles and sings if the speed of the bus is anywhere between 5 km per hour to 60 kph -- they are surprising happy and quiet beyond that.

Anyway, I arrived in Manali this morning and met up with my guide. I leave for the ten-day trek to Hampta pass and Chandertal tomorrow morning. It goes up to some 4200m elevation, lower than what I hoped to reach this time around, but promises good scenery. This time I will have an entourage going with me -- a guide, a cook, a porter and 3 ponies. It should be a walk in the park. :-)

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