Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The Jeep To Ladakh business is a key element in Manali's economy. Yet it has never occured to any of them to install heaters or even stock blankets.

The 7:30 deluxe bus to Dharmsala was only slightly less junky than the bus from Shimla. Every time I'd finally get to sleep the light would come on and the bus would stop for fifteen minutes. At some point it stopped and picked up all the passengers from the 6:30 bus, so that we were now all squooshed together. Maureen didn't sleep a wink.

The system they've developed over 40 years of a tourist trade is that the only buses that run the route drop everyone off at 5 in the morning, when none of the hotels are open. I finally found someone awake at a 'mid-range' one who showed me a room that looked barely tolerable.

Until, that is, we sat on the sheets. They were cold and damp. Come to think of it, the entire town felt cold and damp. I slept for about 2 hours, but Maureen didn't. At 8 she woke me up with a blood curdling scream. A giant black spider had scared he in the bathroom, and she doesn't scare easily with spiders. So I got up and went around to other 'mid-range' hotels. They were all worse. The dampness was limitless. I came back and had the guy bring us more blankets. He also went into the bathroom, grabbed the spider by one of its legs, and threw it outside. I slept for another hour, but Maureen couldn't.

At 11 we walked around the 'town', which was more woebegone than the other places we have been so far. We found a restaurant, and this being the Tibetan Refugee Capital of India, I ordered some 'momos'. Now I had suspected that if Tibetan food were any good then there'd be tibetan restaurants all over the world, and it turned out that my suspicions were justified. Not only didn't my body thank me for it afterwards, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was pissed off at me about it for the rest of my life.

Then it was back to the hotel, where Maureen is finally getting a little sleep. And I am sitting at a tiny internet place trying to pass the time because the damp outside has turned into a steady rain. The good weather news is that, come Saturday, Amritsar will go down from 105 to 98, Jodhpur will go down to 95, Delhi will go down to 90, Udaipur will be 85, and Katmandu will be starting to stop raining.

Speaking of which, as soon as it stop raining I'll go get Mo and we'll tramp down to the Tibetan Monastery complex, where I hope to be able to ask the Delai Lama what's the deal with those momos.


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