Wiki Info Manali
Link To Manali Photos
Slept quite well, Bon had difficulty changing position with her shoulder but otherwise we were glad we paid the extra 500 rupees for accommodations and dinner/breakfast. I took a hot shower which they provided in the hotel which was most welcome. Before we were on the road 3 min we were stopped 10 min or more by an Army convoy of 50+ personnel carriers coming from the direction of Manali. The roads have been 50:50 paved with the rest 'under construction' which mans diversions, potholes, washouts, and generally dirt/dust bouncy bus travel. After the Army now it's the cargo carriers, ha!
In this whole region (Ladakh, Kashmir, now this pat of Himachal Pradesh) the trees of choice are willow for sticks and a tall variety of poplar for poles, both grow rapidly with lots of water.. The steep terraced mountainsides are covered largely with plot after plot of peas and potatoes with hedgerows of some kind of blooming, tall white flowers or wild pink/red rose.
Got to Koksar Bridge and road to the infamous Rohtang (literally meaning 'piles of dead bodies') pass about 10 am where we sat waiting for the traffic coming this way to pass by (it's a one way road apparently).
Wiki Info Rohtang Pass
Bon definitely not feeling well since she stayed on the bus the whole 2 hour wait curled on her seat covered in her jaipur. Trucks and cars line the streets so it should be interesting once we begin! Big rush to get up over the pass...see photos...we get there but now it's 1:30pm so no stopping, we head down. Interesting that the roads near the top are paved but coming down it's all rock and mud. Work is progressing but unfortunately rocks must be cleared to move forward...another wait. Then, because everyone wants to be first cars begin to pass and find themselves face-to-face with cars/vehicles coming the other way...amazing how that happens! So now somewhere ahead the sorting out begins and we wait and wait and even then some more from behind can't stand being behind so they too go up past us to make the jam up even more difficult! Ah, India! Nowhere else, and still claim to be a rising star, hmm.
Two hours later I walk up the road to see what's up and find out that the lack of movement is due primarily to a landslide caused by much rain yesterday! So we continue our wait while trucks haul rock to a particularly muddy spot. Finally our bus and the whole line of cars begins to move, slowly along the muddy, rutted road. Heavy equipment is all along this stretch which, along with the line of trucks and cars makes the passage narrow and slow.
At a particularly narrow spot where a large shovel converted to rock splitter is hugging the mountain side of the road, our bus must pass where a small section of road is narrowed even further by a washout. The front of the bus clears this spot and our driver gives the bus a bit more gas to drive by hurriedly but unfortunately the mud decides to cause the bus to slip and slide. The rear left wheel of the bus slides off the road and we find ourselves severely tilted with the front right tire up in the air. A crowd of Indians watching the spectacle rush to the side of the bus yelling, 'Get out, get out!' Not one to question this advise (the door out is now open to space, a drop of perhaps several hundred feet), I climb out the window handing my day pack ahead of me. I had been videoing the entire thing out the window so to free my hands I stick camera in my moth as I exit the bus. Bonnie had to go forward into the drivers compartment where the windows are a bit larger and she'd have more freedom of movement, her right arm being somewhat incapacitated.
Indians are wonderful people in an emergency, and being that there are so many the help we received was quite overwhelming. Nonetheless, the crowd now grew proportionate to the danger of the bus toppling over and down the mountainside. I spoke to one Indian gentleman, a hydrological engineer working on a project just 50 km from where we stood who said this is typical, everyone wants to be a boss and have their say. So in typical Indian fashion it took quite a while to sort things out with a plan as to how to proceed and rescue the bus. It was now close to 7:00pm, fog was increasing and darkness not far off!
First they attached a cable to the bus and a bulldozer brought to the front of th bus. Next they positioned the shovel with rock splitter such that it could prevent the bus from toppling over the edge (the only thing holding it in place was a huge rock on the downhill side of the left rear wheel). Finally, after close to an hour everything was in place for perhaps but one attempt to save the bus before total darkness. You could just feel the tension in the air with hundreds of people watching the spectacle the pressure on the machine operators had to be palpable. After all, in true Indian fashion it sounded like 10 people were shouting directions to them all at once. The moment came to move, the bus began to rise up onto the road, and a great cheer went up, as well as a sigh of relief that the day would end in success for all concerned. We were lucky in that two of the 11 passengers on the bus were Indian, the husband an ex-military fellow now in the travel business. We just followed him and his wife ( who also spoke good English), and eventually we were able to get our bags out of the bus, hike down the road and there waited for a different bus which he said was coming to pick us up and transport us into Manali!
This all took place over the next hour+ during which time a group of 6 fellow travellers from the bus had decided to hike down the hill.
The 5 of us who stayed behind and now had all our belongings, got on the miraculous bus which somehow made it past all the parked vehicles safely to pick us up. Further on we met up with the other 6 who now boarded the bus w/o any of their stuff and we continued on down to Manali. This miraculous bus was the old style, hard seats, no suspension but much more rugged and I think smaller than the 'luxury' one we had been travelling on.
At any rate, we arrived alive in Manali after 14 hours on a day of travel that should have gotten us here by 3pm, but now at 10pm. Bon and I searched nearby the bus station for a reasonable hotel for the next hour before finding one that at least would serve the night. There are a ton of accommodation possibilities but for some reason there are a lot of Indian tourists here ( this is supposed to be off season), an the availability was not what we expected. We settled on Samiru Hotel (near bus station) which oddly enough was one that a guy meeting the bus we got off recommended (he was at the front desk and greeted us), but we rejected at the time always being wary of these touts at bus stations!
Totally whipped, I went to sleep immediately...Bon tried to stay awake (unsuccessfully) to do some sewing on her only pair of wearable pants.
Moved to Veer Guesthouse...much better and had good conversation over breakfast w/ Indian gal and French guy. Recovering from yesterdays ordeal all the rest of the day!
Today is another recovery day...Bon is stiff and achy so we take our time getting going. Have brunch about 11am then on the internet to update and email.... This GH is a very nice one to accomplish what we want...Bon to repair herself and her pants (sewing), and I hopefully, will get some more photos up!!!
Visited the Manu temple uphill from our guesthouse:
"Dedicated to the sage Manu, the Manu Temple is situated in the old township of Manali. The ancient temple is located at a distance of 3 kilometers from the chief market place in old Manali. Lying in the congested place, the temple is often visited by the tourists who arrive from different parts of the world to view the only existing temple in the country dedicated to the worship of the Rishi Manu.
The ancient Manu Temple in Manali has a distinct historical background that is appealing to most people who visit the pilgrim spot. According to Hindu mythology, Manu sage is the divine creator of the human race in the world. It was in this region that the sage dwelt and meditated. The region of Manali grew by the Manalsu River that flows into the River Beas and was named after the sage who resided in this region. The village of Manali houses the Manu Temple that is frequented by the tourists.
Believed to be the abode of Manu, Manali houses a lovely shrine dedicated to this ancient law giver of India. The popular belief is that this place is closely connected with the seventh incarnation of the great sage. Mythology says that he saved the Vedas and the seven sages from this inundation. It is assumed that subsequent to the great flood, Manu landed at Manali and then lived here."
Copied from MapsofIndia website.
Weather here...pleasant, partly cloudy to cloudy, rain every day but not excessive, not too humid but enough so my feet aren't cracking anymore. Chatted with a guy from Wisconsin, ex-military living on his pension, been 'in-the-area' (I assume SE Asia) for past 8-9 years. Is disgusted with US and doesn't wish to return. Middle aged, single.
Also talked with a 39 yr old pharmacist from Belgium on vacation for 3 weeks, mostly in Ladakh. She works for the govt agency which is tasked with dealing with doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies, etc in determining reimbursements for drugs. They are faced with (and she believes it's worldwide) the same problems of escalating costs out running the govt and the public's ability to pay! Healthcare in the West is facing a crisis as is our environment, political systems, religious institutions, educational institutions, economic structures, and generally overall inequities in our social fabric. A perfect storm of sorts which bodes well only if humans can resist the blame temptation or resort to all out authoritarian control. I'm hopeful that beneath the surface there are enough people who understand or at least have developed the local connections and wherewithal to hold communities together through the storm. I see Transition Towns web site, lots of activity in the Woofer and similar community based organizations. I'm not impressed by the massive amounts of energy & $$$ going into political organizations for elections or NGOs attempting to make over '3rd world' agendas to match The West!
Off the soapbox now...got carried away...
Rest of the day - me at internet (4 DVDs & MTJ & getting an Amazon book), Bon sewing + movies - raining more as day progressed.
Just as Bon was getting on her feet and we've been able to do some much needed shopping, she's added a stomach upset to her recovering shoulder ordeal. I have been able to take advantage of this time to add much needed photos to the website. Unfortunately, the research into further travels is her bag as well as looking into airline tickets which we should be getting for travel to Myanmar and then on to Borneo. She doesn't trust me to carry out these tasks although I think I could. I know if I researched it she will only repeat it all again and thus I'd just be wasting my time. Ah well, I've got tons of photos to go thru anyway and Manali is a very convenient and pleasant place for R&R!
Bon's still sick, in bed all day trying to rest, keep things down...I'm at internet and uploading more photos. We watch TV and sleep alot.
Bon feeling much better, researching onward travel, buses, trains, airplanes...Great to have her back!
Today it's my turn, giardia! Spent an uncomfortable night then took a cipro and lomatil...just able to lie still is good. Glad we aren't travelling today, ha!