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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2 Months And A Half Off! (Part 9)

This series of posts is a day by day account of my two-month-and-a-half trip that begins with a stay in Bangkok, followed by a train ride Amritsar, a bike trip from Leh to Manali and a yoga teacher training in Kullu Valley, the end of the habitable world.

Day 16: The Day Before 
The day before our long bike trip to Leh, we headed to New Manali to buy some things that we'll need for the road. One of the most taxing errands we had to do was getting a sim card that we can use in case of emergencies. Here, a photo, a copy of your passport and visa and some signed document from your guesthouse or hotel are needed to get a sim card. Luckily, the man selling the sim card was nice enough to sell it to me without asking for the signed document from our guesthouse. And, I was given several packets to choose from. Here in India, even your mobile number can change your luck.

I must've picked an unlucky number. The minute I turned on my phone I started getting phone calls from unknown people. Around five numbers have called me repeatedly. And, telling them that they've called the wrong number didn't deter them from calling again. It was absolutely frustrating I had to keep my phone on silent or turn it off.

Day 17: Day 1 of the Manali to Leh Epic Bike Trip
At around 6 in the morning, our bags were packed and we were headed for Keylong, our destination for that day. The small town was around 125 kilometers away from Manali. 

Even though the drive from Manali to Keylong wasn't that long, we had to leave early in order to avoid the traffic on the narrow roads. Also, being ahead of everyone else meant that we will have loads of vehicles to count on for help should we have any problems with our bike. Another good reason for being early is that the water in the stream is higher in the afternoon than it is in the morning.

Our drive from Manali to Rohtang Pass started out smoothly. White, feathery clouds covered the mountains opposite us. And, we saw several waterfalls along the way.






Our first challenge were the muddy bits that we'd been warned about a couple of days ago. We crossed like three or four stretches of mud pits and I could feel the tires slip as we went through them. And, it didn't help that we were sharing the road with trucks, buses and jeeps. Fortunately, my boyfriend's amazing motorbike riding skills kept us from falling off. His shoes were absolutely soaked by the time we got to an asphalt road.


The muddy road up Rohtang Pass.


After the muddy bit, we had a mix of smooth asphalt roads and areas filled with gravel and sand. We also crossed a couple of small streams which added some spice to our trip. We were lucky to have an early start since the streams we had to cross were shallower and less threatening.


The road up the pass.

Moving along the scary mountain roads

Rohtang Pass

We were up close and personal with the mountains.

This is a scene that city folks don't normally get to see... And, I thought it was beautiful.

There was a waterfall in every corner.

Before we reached Tandi, where we were going to stop for petrol since this is the last town with a petrol station, we stopped at Glacier Cafe for a cup of chai. Below it are several rooms with clean bathrooms. And, opposite the cafe, are melting glaciers that looked like silver on the mountain's dark gray surface.


A melting glacier on the dark mountain surface.

After getting some petrol in Tandi, we headed to Keylong which had very dusty roads. We arrived at around 1 PM and found out that we had a flat. Luckily, we passed a mechanic on our way into town and the problem was fixed in no time.

Nalua Guesthouse (Keylong, Altitude: 3,080 meters, 500 rupees per night)
We picked this guesthouse because it had a restaurant and a small shop. The rooms were very sweet with ensuite bathrooms, hot water and a shared balcony with a nice view of the mountains.


The Guesthouse

The View From The Guesthouse

Sunset at the terrace.


Travel Tips
Leave early. The roads are narrow and being ahead of all the other vehicles makes the drive a whole lot easier. The streams are also much shallower in the morning.

Enjoy the view. The scenery along the way is the climax of the trip. Nothing can be more beautiful than the untouched green mountains and silver waterfalls you'll be passing by on the way. Stop and take a picture. 
Fill up and bring spare petrol. Tandi is the last place you can get petrol on the way to Leh.

Do some sightseeing (if you have time). There are a lot of temples in Tandi and Keylong. I didn't make it to any of them.