Manali to Nerchowk 130km
I've just had the privilege and pleasure of sharing two months of adventures with a delightful young woman, Tessa Walker. We caught up in Kathmandu, hardly knowing each other, and parted today in Manali, very special friends. Tessa is adventurous, fit and strong, a talented musician, athlete and chef. She is sociable, intelligent, resourceful, and up for a challenge. She is thoughtful, compassionate, and caring. She is a very special lady., Forget 58 buffalo. Forget 1008 buffalo. Tessa is better than gold, more precious than diamonds, so much more than a gem. I've really enjoyed her company, and she joins a very select group of people I would travel extensively with again (Sumo, Amy, Graham A, Pricey, and of course Ju) There was a tear or two as I rode out of Manali this morning, leaving behind a young lady I am fortunate and proud to be able to call my "Himalayan daughter". Stay safe Tessa. I'm missing you already.
The tears, caused me to miss a turning, and then another, and before I knew it , I was climbing a hill in completely the wrong direction. I did a U turn, and returned to Manali. There I saw the daily queue of taxi drivers, waiting to get their permits to take tourists up to the snow. These guys do it hard. They pay for a permit, grovel for customers, pay a massive road tax, then if they're lucky, get to sit in a traffic jam for five hours on the side of a mountain. And now a very wealthy business man has put a proposal to the government that will result in a gondalla going to the snow, with no taxis permitted. The drivers are going to do it hard.
So my day was mostly downhill, beside a pretty interesting boating (rafting or kayaking) river (the Beas). I must have passed at least 100 companies waiting for clients, and only saw one raft on the river. But the river looks technical and fun. Too bad I've got so many kms I need to cycle, but then would I be brave enough to put my life in the hands of an Indian River guide. I'm much more comfortable in the hands of the very professional, and safety conscious guides from NZ, and Dvoraks in Colorado.
I got a little annoyed with a bus today. For at least 5km it kept pulling out in front of me, every 500m. I stopped and let it get ahead. Half an hour later, I caught up with it again. It was the cause of a 10km traffic jam. Seems it sped around a blind corner, and ran into a herd of goats. Several were dead, and the driver was being severely hassled by a group of about 30, including police, shepherds, and lots of others. I managed to sneak though the jam, although it took a while, and then rode on a deserted road for the next 10km.
Rode through a very long tunnel, at least 5km. Luckily I had bike lights handy. A bit spooky, and lots of foul fumes, but there was no other option.
Lots of people wanted photos of me and Fiona. Seems we are celebrities. They hang out car windows with cameras, thumbs ups, and yells of support. One guy wanted me to let him ride Fiona. I let him, and followed on the back of a scooter, but was very worried about Fiona's safety. Still the guy was thrilled with his experience, so I made at least one Indian happy today.
I thought it was 500km from Manali to Delhi, but today I've done 130km, and the sign outside tells me I've got 480km to go. Oh well. At least, so far, it hasn't been as hot as when we left the lowlands ten days ago. Hope the gigs in Old Manali work out Tessa. See you in Colorado next July, for three weeks of Mountain biking, rafting and hiking. Anyone else keen?