Travel Story: North India Edition: Manali, India.
I don’t have a particular thing to tell about today so i decided to continue my backpackers’ story during my travel in India. So as usual, i will write in full english for that matter. The place i want to tell to you about now is called MANALI.
Manali is a small town which is Hill Station (Hill Station for example is Cameron Highlands in Malaysia), located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Manali is not that far off Shimla which is the Capital for Himachal Pradesh. It is very popular with the locals as well as foreigners.
I can tell you in details but i leave it to wikipedia for it. Manali in Wiki.
After we tour around Agra, we went to Fatehpur Sikri, and New Delhi. In Fatehpur Sikri we just stop by for a moment and continue our journey by taxi to Jaipur by Taxi. After Jaipur we went to Jaisalmer to spend good 3 days there before we went on to Manali.
As you can see i’m skipping New Delhi and Jaipur and Jaisalmer. These 3 places are much better and much more stories to tell rather than Manali, so i will tell those letter. For your info, during this 3rd Travel in India, my most favourite place is Jaisalmer. Go wiki!
So from Jaisalmer we took the famous Indian Express Train from Jaisalmer to New Delhi which took around 12 hours, and by that i mean, a very ‘short trip’ in terms of travelling in India, which is a sub-continent by itself.
When we reach New Delhi we got a difficulty of finding our connection transport to Manali. We reach the New Delhi Interstate Bus Terminal, and we found a lot of counter for bus ticket closed, we don’t know why but we kept waiting. mind you, to enter the terminal you must go through security like in the airport, detection whatsoever, in a BUS terminal!! hehehe that’s ok, wait till you hear my story on New Delhi.
As my previous post before, if you want a comfortable journey by bus in India, look for the term VOLVO BUS, or ask for Volvo Bus when buying ticket. dont worry all Volvo Bus terminology will have good suspension, powerful Airconditioner, and good service. I would recommend you to take The State Bus rather than private companies because at least you will be rest assured at least that you get what you pay for. We took HRTC bus, Super Volvo Bus to Manali which cost us Rs.950 converted to around RM90 approx. Expensive? Go and try the cheap non-aircond bus, i swear you would spend 4 days in Manali to recuperate. Try it and tell me later ok!
The Trip took us good 11 hours to reach Manali. Indeed, a very short trip in terms of Travelling in India. don’t worry. hehe. When we reach it’s already early in the morning around 7am, and i was very happy the small town is full of SNOW! Yeah. I know that this small town is a snowy town, but according to my research pre-travel, they say the snow is already reducing because the winter is nearing the end. But who are they to predict the weather? the weather man? naaah!
As an asian living in a very hot and humid country for his previous 21 years, i would only dreamt touching a snow in Europe, United States or maybe even Korea and Japan. But i would never believe it actually INDIA the first time i experiencing the real snowy condition. It is so DAMN COLD!! luckily i wear three piece of clothing including the thick jacket bought during my 2nd travel in India.
We checked-in in out hotel, which i dont quite remember, i will edit it later if i remember. but the hotel is just beside the small river at the middle of the town. Good rates, The room is BIG! and just beside a river surrounded by snow all over. How lovely. Only i went to travel with my 3 friends. This place is perfect for Honeymoon.
Cheap. Peaceful. Snow. Cold. Friendly people. Yeah, Manali is a Honeymoon place indeed, exactly what is written in the Travel Guide, that is before the 2nd day in Manali when i found out so much more. hehe.
For Muslims, i couldn’t locate any Muslims restaurant so i ask one Muslim dealer selling clothes there on where to eat. he just simply say, go to pure vegetarian restaurant, a pure vegetarian restaurant is abundant wherever you go in INDIA, be rest assured, and the food is good!. *A reliable tip applicable to anywhere you travel in India if you are unsure about the state of Halal of the food in the City / Town.
So the first day we just went to few places of interest, but not that good, the only thing we were excited is the fact that we are touching the snow! haha.
So the 2nd day i went to Solang Valley (Solang Nullah). They say it’s The Ski Haven. A very very true reflection indeed. This one i remember clearly. The tip is, when you are going there, i would highly recommend that you go to the travel agent in the town to check prices and book your journey a day before. It is the cheapest if you can get the package to sollang valley from travel agent in the town. Don’t believe a word what the by the roadside taxi/jeep driver is telling you. They say, you go up there first, there is cheaper. I believed him, so i got fooled, but the next day i found out the Travel agent has cheaper price, significantly cheaper.
I got fooled so i hope you don’t! i’ll attach the sample picture i taken for the prices, this way long ago, but just a little bit the idea of what im trying to tell.
So we were given a guide, which is a must by the rule and regulation of Manali state, and man, he was handsome, if i were a girl i would totally go over him. I am that talkative so i talk with his friend and some of the taxi/jeep driver, they say he is the Undisputed King of Skiing, dominated the state competition for 2 years in a row. I never went to any form of skiing whatsoever but i got one of the best guide there. I would put his name here if i remember, but for the time being i couldnt remember. haha.
When we reach Solang Valley, the guide will show us how to ski and will take care of you during your trip there. When i say the people there, now i know, why Manali is so famous, the slope is very challenging, there is lightweight cable transport for single person to go up to ski all the way down. When i came, there is a lot of Indian Army practicing their skiing skill there. My guide said they are the special forces, anymore than that he cannot tell me as it is classified. Ok i said.
So after skiing i tried the sky diving, which is damn EXPENSIVE! i think i paid about rm70 for that one sky diving, but it was worth it! I had to climb so high up since we cannot use the cable car because it was being used by the army. After reaching the peak of the slope, there will be 3-4 person handling it to prepare the parachute, the long wide one. And one of them will dive with you. I had to run fast towards the cliff with the person on the snow which is melting since it’s afternoon. It was not until the 3rd try i was able to go and dive along the great sky. With so much adrenaline, i screamed as loud as possible to let out the joy in me. When we reached down, damn! i want one more! but i kept to my senses and save my money.
Then we went back to our hotel in the evening and slept off till the night after we went to a small club house to play pool. Cool eh? see the pic.
We slept good double digit hours, and packed the next day to go back to New Delhi by the HRTC super volvo bus!
I can’t wait to write about Jaisalmer. The hot encroaching desert with a very coool wind! and with full handphone coverage in the middle of the desert!!
till next time!