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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 6: A day in Manali

INDIA | Sunday, 11 November 2007 | Views [615]

Sunday 11th November

I woke up feeling refreshed after a busy day of travelling and sorting out accommodation, although my cold wasn't helped by the chilly night and lack of central heating anywhere in this part of the world. Another beautiful day in the mountains, the scenery outside of the hotel was another sight that put a smile on my face. The early morning sunlight, breaking through the mist of the orchard and the alpine mountains in the background.... stunning.

After breakfast, Jeff and I headed off to Vashisht, a small village on the other side of the valley to Manali, taking in the scenery and fresh air. We visited a Buddhist monastery and I walked over the prayer mats with my dirty shoes...apparently you're not supposed to do that!

We walked back into town and made plans for the next day, a trip to Rohtang Pass, a mountain pass a few thousand feet up and costing only 250 rupees (4 quid!) per person for a full day. We also booked our tickets to Dharamsala, another long journey of 9 hours, getting in at 4am (and yet another early start!).

We then visited Old Manali in the north of the town, a village with traditional housing, set amongst the many orchards of the region. The locals seemed very friendly and welcoming. It was fascinating to look at how the houses were constructed with thick slate tiles covering the roofs and stables for the animals adjacent to the homes themselves. Some of the buildings were decorated with ornate gold paint, simple but effective (haven't seen Colin & Justin doing any of that shit).

We asked some of the local women if we could take their photos in front of their house, and they kindly agreed. Even though they clearly didn't have a lot of money, they were still dressed in the most colourful of clothes and jewellery. Although, I really think they need to get to JJB Sports or Footlocker to sort themselves out with some decent sportswear, they at least have the bling sorted out!

From Old Manali we walked to Hambida Temple, once again up a steepish incline and situated inside a deodar tree forest. The shrine was quite nice despite smelling like a bonfire inside, but the most impressive aspect of this place was the cricket match taking place amongst a group of local lads who showed off their considerable skills with bat and ball. They were brilliant, very accurate and a a few wickets were taken on the uneven forest surface - who needs to watch the pros with stuff like this?

The day in Manali proved to be a highlight of India so far and I am beginning to get a real feel for the place. The people, the weather, and the scenery all make for a really special, peaceful place and I am very happy to be here.

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