Day 39 - Sunday 5th August 2001
|photo © 2001 dan|
Walking into town
I woke up as Andy started to make a move to be first in the shower. I had had a disjointed night's sleep. I would fall asleep only to wake up because I was too hot, so I got out of my sleeping bag and went to sleep just in my liner. Later I awoke too cold, so I would snuggle under my sleeping bag. The cycle continued all night, one minute I was so hot I was sweating and the next I would be too cold.
It was 9:15am by the time I decided that I really should get up. I put my clothes together for the in-house laundry service while Jon showered. There was no time for me to shower if I wanted breakfast before the 10am deadline. As we went down to the restaurant so we found a chap waiting mysteriously outside our door. He asked for our laundry, which I thought was pretty impressive as we hadn't asked for anyone to come and collect the laundry. We hadn't been able to phone like the instructions told us because our phone wasn't working.
Narinder was already in the restaurant. He had just eaten one of the restaurant's "Indian Breakfasts". Alan and Steve soon appeared and joined the rest of us, who moved to a larger table so we could all sit together. Alan had used up all the hot water (apparently) so I wasn't the only person who hadn't showered, which made me feel less isolated. Alan opted to try the Indian breakfast too, while Jon, Andy and I all ate the American breakfast for no reason other than it contained the most amount of food. Andy tried his luck with a boiled egg. Narinder interpreted for him to the waiter and after a lengthy discussion in Hindi he agreed to do it for Andy - it was on the menu after all.
|photo © 2001 dan|
Looking for somewhere to have lunch
The waiter hadn't changed much while we were away. Steve got pineapple juice when he ordered orange juice and Alan ordered lasse but got offered orange juice, even though it wasn't on his menu. Narinder pointed this out and reminded the waiter that he wanted a lasse. The waiter always wrote our order down, so how could he get it so wrong? Well he either never looked at his piece of paper and tried to do it all from memory, or more likely asking what we wanted was just a politeness thing - we'd end up with what he wanted to give us. But what was the point of trying to be polite by asking us what we wanted? He should have just given us the fruit juice, the crispy toenails (cornflakes like you've never seen before), the egg and a pot of tea and have done with it. We asked the waiter for sugar, wanting to disguise the taste of our crispy toenails and what did he bring us? Sugar cubes. Can you believe that! Still it wasn't a problem for me. We had to ask for jam for our toast and all that arrived was a thimble full. We ran out of butter and asked for some more. The waiter went to look but returned empty handed. I know we were a bit late and it was after 10am but come on, surely in the name of customer satisfaction he could have given us a bit more butter. Narinder must have said something similar to him but by the time more butter came all we had left was our tea. Still, at least the onion omelette was good. Deui came and joined us. He hadn't been able to find the key to his office because Prem Singh hadn't returned from dropping off the search party.
Andy left the restaurant first and headed back up to his room. I couldn't help but remain silent about the fact that I had the key. We watched him as he walked to the furthest stairwell and ascended to our room. There was a stairwell, which connected the door of our room to the restaurant, and yet Andy never chose to use this one. We teased him when he returned moments later asking for the key.
Andy made a list of things that had to be done. We all returned to our room where Narinder and Andy filled out some IMF forms. Steve and Jon tried to calculate the location of Pt.6030 using the information stored in the GPS and some bearings taken by Andy.
|photo © 2001 dan|
Manali fills up with westerners
I took the opportunity to get rid of that cheesy, pickled damp smell that tells you that you haven't seen a shower for weeks. Unfortunately I only had the option of putting dirty trousers back on.
Come 12:45pm we were split between going for lunch and watching Catherine Zeta Jones on TV. With the vote even, the transmission gave up and lunch was declared the only option. We met Narinder outside the front of the hotel at 1pm. We walked up the street and after about ten minutes we found an empty rickshaw and negotiated our fare. We went to the Mount View restaurant in the main square (recommended in the guide book). It had a narrow frontage but went back a surprisingly long way. I had a cheese and tomato pizza and ate all the leftover food ordered by everyone else.
|photo © 2001 dan|
Outside Zingaro Travels
After lunch we went to the Zingaro Travels office. It was shut but we met Deui who had found the key and opened up. He invited us inside and we had a good look around. Our intention had been to fax the details of our flights to Eco-Adventures (as requested by Rahul) so that they could confirm our flight bookings, but the fax machine wasn't working and as phoning was best not done on a Sunday we left, mission unaccomplished. We went to the internet café where everyone set about catching up on the emails of the past six weeks while I composed a email to friends, family and relatives letting them know how we'd got on. Andy complained that all his emails were boring. I refrained from saying what my initial thoughts were on hearing this comment.
Come 4pm Alan, Jon and I left and went to buy some biscuits, cheese and water from the same general store (Himalayan Store was its name) that we went to at the start of the expedition. The cheese was exactly the same block as before. No one else had bought any of it during the five weeks we'd been away.
We walked down into the main square and it wasn't long before the hagglers came. A teenager tried to sell me some choppers, as I called them because they were like helicopters. A rubber band launched this object high up and the propellers ensured it took ages to land again. Now I really wanted some of these, but I being a student I wasn't going to get ripped off.
"One for 60RS" the teenager said after showing me how they worked. I kept on walking. He halted briefly to catch the descending chopper and the caught up with me. "Two for 50Rs" he said trying to get me interested. This was good all I had done was walk away and he had now halved his price.
Another guy selling the same toys hassled me a bit further on. "60Rs" he offered.
"No" I muttered.
"No. 10Rs" I suggested
"No". I walked away and seeing that I am a potential customer he came running after me.
"20Rs" he said. I agreed and dug deep in my pocket for some money. I gave the chap a 50Rs note and he gave me 30Rs back. I pointed at a 10Rs note insisting that I needed another one of them, thinking I had been short changed. He wasn't going to give me one so I gave up, after all we were pointlessly arguing over the equivalent of 15p. I crossed the road and got into a waiting rickshaw with Jon and Alan. It wasn't until we were halfway back to the hotel that I realised that 50Rs minus 20Rs was indeed 30Rs so I hadn't been shortchanged after all. The guy must have thought I was some sort of tourist fraudster.
Another rickshaw driver tried to take us up to the Hotel Victory Palace instead of the Hotel Victoria Palace but after some pointers from Alan we soon got to where we wanted to be going.
Back in our room, we ate biscuits and watched TV. Books were read to kill time as well.
|photo © 2001 dan|
Steve's "Chicken Sizzler" arrives. Sizzling.
Come 7:30pm we fetched Alan from his room and suggested going for dinner. It was raining outside so we dressed appropriately. We knocked on Narinder's door to see if he wanted to come out for dinner but he wasn't in. We walked up the road in the dark for a bit, but with no rickshaws passing us and none in sight we were forced to get a taxi and pay 50Rs. The taxi dropped us right by where Andy and Steve were waiting. They had been on the Internet most of the time and afterwards had sat in a café drinking tea and eating toasted cheese sandwiches.
We walked around for a bit before we found a restaurant, called "Friends of Tibet". The restaurant was on the first floor and was very nice and small, but service was dreadfully slow, perhaps because it was full. I ate egg noodle soup with fried cheese and veg momo. Flaming (literally) hot custard followed for pudding. Jon ordered a "pan cake" expecting something like what we eat on Shrove Tuesday, but in fact got a cake that had been baked in a pan.
It was late by the time we had finished and only a few rickshaws remained out in the main square. Jon and Andy got in the first one they saw, while Alan, Steve and I got in another. Then in the pitch dark our rickshaw driver pulled off a suicidal overtaking manoeuvre on a steep downhill bend. Andy and Jon's rickshaw tailgated ours all the way to the hotel but with no more steep descents the chance of overtaking was gone. We set a new record that evening for the time taken to get from the main square in Manali to our hotel. We paid the drivers for the fairground ride.
Back in our rooms we watched Mission Impossible on the television. However ten minutes before the end the transmission ended rather annoyingly.