10.06.2008 - 18.06.2008 83 °F
We last left you in Shimla, it was the coolest place we'd been too yet, in both temperature and personality. But we were itching to get further north to Manali. The ten hour bus ride took its toll but we didn't have the same kamakazi driver as the episode of getting to Shimla. We were lucky enough getting off the bus to meet someone from Old Manali, that had a room for a much cheaper price, and much more in the quiet country.
So after two days in New Manali we headed just a little further north to the quieter Old Manali. We've been relaxing for the last three days in what we could consider paradise. Beautiful mountians, afternoon rain, bright green spring growth everywhere, super blue sky (no pollution/dust haze)....after the dismal desert I was starting to get worried.
Not only is the town great but we found a wonderful guest house. The rooms are clean and quiet and the home is located on a hill surrounded by traditional wooden homes and an apple orchard. The family has been so welcoming and hospitable. The night before last they invited to their son's birthday party. Not sure what to expect we ate a late lunch and were told to arrive around 7, which we usually take to mean show up at 7. Deciding we should probably shower after sweating like pigs for the last couple of days, being back at least two hours before hand would be more than enough time. Arriving at a little after five, we discovered the party had actually started a few minutes ago or had been going for some time. But by the looks on their faces, we seemed to be late.... I was able to get ready in 3.5 minutes flat, whereas Toni is quick for a girl, but still a girl, so she distracted everyone while I showered for 2.75 minutes. In the remaining 45 seconds, I was able to get dressed and be out socializing with a glass of wiskey in hand.
After everyone(being the owner, family friends, and the rest of the hotel patrons) had had at least a beer, chai, or mixed drink in them, the cake came out and we sang happy birthday. I don't think the kid knows english and I'm not sure if the look he gave us was completely confused or if the long day of birday parties was just wearing him thin. We were served a traditional Indian dinner with the family and it was probably the best Indian food I've had yet. Followed by more sweets. When the plates were cleared the birthday boy got to bring out his new board game, its called Carem Board. Its like air hocky meets miniture pool, a few discs are shot around at each other trying to make them in different holes kind of like pool. It was fun but getting late and the birthday boy got in a kung fu fight with his older brother and everyone went home crying. But after all that sugar can you really blame him.
We've gone on a few hikes, one to a huge water fall, one behind Old Manali, and one between ld Manali and new. The falls must have been 300 feet tall, with some pretty steep paths up to get close. The hike behind Old Manali was kind of doomed from the start. We weren't really sure where we were heading but thought we had a fail safe plan. Up the road has to go somewhere, right? We ended up wandering after the trail disappeared, and really didn't get to anywhere amazing, but thats the point of being on vacation. After an hour or so we slowly made our way back to the best pizza place in India (yes, we have been there now 4 days in a row). We're still in the middle of our between old and new hikes so I'll have to fill the rest in later.
We only have 1 week left before we head to Bangkok on the 24th. So we should have one more India entry before we leave. Hope all is well with you!
Breezy and Toni