Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Leh Road Trip SAGA - The journey begins

We all packed our bags with loads of stuff for the 10 day long trip. On 19, i called up the driver again and got the response that he has well rested and would be able to make the journey to leh today eve.

At 4 in the evening, i called the driver again and he told me that he is at nehru place and would be here in 15-20 minutes. Finally he arrived here at 5 pm. We all packed our bags inside the innova and noted the readings and began the journey after picking up our wives. We got stuck in
6'0 clock office traffic and it took us an hour to leave delhi. On the way we stopped at haveli to have our diner and then proceeded to manali.

The car's audio system was awkward (probably loose fittings) and it took us some time to figure out how to play audio properly. The road was smooth and we reached manali without any issues. None of us got any sleep - we were too excited to sleep.

J : Yaar, pls play some good song.
Guddu : Sir, here is the USB wire, and here is the aux wire. Do you have nokia music phone.
L : Lets try. Pass the usb drive
R : here is the usb drive
Guddu : Sir, kitne GB ki hai?
R : 8 GB
L : Gudduji, how does this fit ?
Guddu : Attach the USB adapter to this wire and attache the USB drive here.
L : yaar yeah to ajeeb si aavaje kar raha hai
B : music mein special effects aa rahe hai. Har bump ke sath naya sound add ho jata hai.
R : yaar USB chod, yeah ipod le - aur aux se isko connect kar.
L : (after connecting aux to ipod and the deck). Scene to same hai.
J : Love, pakad kar baithe reh.
L : Ruko mai intejam karta hu.
L figures out the angle and the pull required to keep the write tense so that it does not move with each bump.
L : cellotape hai kya?
J : yaar pakad le na
Guddu : Sir AC mein atka do
L : yeah sahi baat kari yaar.
L sticks the wire in the AC vent.

Finally we have good music. At sonipath L's parents come and give us parathas and gulab jamuns to eat along with a heavy blanket for the cold. So nice of them.

We reached manali at around 6 am - totally exhausted and sleepy. All of us wanted to just jump in the bed and go to sleep. The weather was good at manali - cool and cloudy.

B : Gudduji, please stop at a good hotel.
J : No one should sleep. Just freshenup and get ready for the next stop. We will sleep early in the evening.
Guddu : Here sir, check out this hotel.
L & R go and check the hotel
R : full hai.
J : lets go ahead
After a short distance
R : yaha dekhte hai.
J & R check another hotel.
J : Room to theek hai. But bathroom pathetic
R (To the owner) : What are the charges?
Hotel manager : Sir 1200 per night for double room.
J : This is too costly for such shabby place. Lets move ahead.
After walking some distance
J : Yeah hotel sahi dikh raha hai. Lets check this out.
R : ok
After talking with the hotel manager - J & R check out the room.
J : Better than the previous one.
R (to hotel manager) : What are the charges ?
hotel manager : 1500/- per room.
R : We need it for only 4-5 hours. And we need 2 rooms. We need to move ahead to leh.
hotel manager : i can give you 2 rooms for 2000/- But you have to leave before 12 pm.
J : Yes ofcourse - we will leave - we have to go ahead. But 2000/- is too steep for 4 hours.
hotel manager : Take it or leave it.
J (to R) : Kya bolta hai? Le le ?
R : Ha le lo - we dont want to waste time searching for rooms in which we dont intend to stay.
J : Ok, you get the car here, while i complete the formalities.

We get the room and move the girls to one room and the boys to another room. We freshen up one by one.

L - drops on the bed and sleeps
J - takes a bath and then watches television while others get ready.

At 11 am we leave the hotel and proceed to Rohtang pass. We stop in the middle for a quick breakfast.

J (to L): Lets go near the river and touch the water.
J & L go near the river and do some photo shoots and touch the water - while others have breakfast.

After breakfast we move ahead. After around half an hour, we find that the road is all jammed with tourists who are going and coming back. The road is bumpy and full of pot holes. There are tons of tankers on the way. We spend 2 hours in the traffic jam. And in the meanwhile watch people doing parasailing. The JAM got worse because most of the tourists were from delhi and delhi people are famous for their impatience and for blocking oncoming traffic by creating double lines on single lanes.

Eventually the air got cooler and we were able to spot our first snow - just lying on the road like that and melting. We reach rohtang pass around 2 pm - tired from sitting in the innova.

Rohtang pass looks like a flat pleatu of ice at 13051 feet. It is totally commercialized with lots of vendors offering highly priced stuff - mostly maggi, corn and tea/coffee. A mini-cup of tea (around 30 ml) costed us 10 rs. The snow is dirty due to the pollution by cars and due to lots of people. You can also get your photo clicked with an Yak for 10 rs.

We relaxed for an hour and then moved ahead leaving the croud of tourists behind. There was not a single vehicle moving ahead from there.

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