The Road From Hell
Let me set the scene; I’m in Manali. If you have been following the Blog, (Rishikesh and Manali) you know the trip to here from Rishikesh by car was extremely unpleasant. To leave Manali I have three choices: car at a high price on my wallet and my body but less expensive than a plane, a fourteen hour overnight bus ride with air conditioning and supposedly comfortable reclining seats for about $25 US but on those hellish roads, or a flight out of Kullu, one and a half hours south of Old Manali by car that leaves at 7:50 AM at $283 US for the flight and $25 US for the taxi. How to decide??? I am usually quite thrifty, but I just can’t do another car ride and the bus… I bite the financial bullet and opt for the plane. It may cost a packet but after another horrible but short car ride, I am at the airport and in an hour and 15 minutes later I will be in Delhi. I can deal.
But opts! There’s cloud cover, were talking mountains here, narrow crevices in which the plane must fly between. I had gotten up at 5:AM to make this flight. I was told there were VIPS flying in, so Kingfisher Air really wanted to fly, but the weather would not co-operate. This was the third day they had not been able to fly because of the weather and by 9:30 AM the airline announced the flight was canceled. Drat! I got a full refund of course, but what to do now? The dreaded road. Must I go all the way to Delhi by car? Horrors! Well not exactly. Seven hours to Chandigarh then a flight to Delhi at 6:50 PM. This was ‘just deserts’ for trying to save myself a painful day? Who knows? The cost of a taxi is outrageous. But I am the ‘great organizer’ and I put a family of four, a single man and me in a seven seater car and off we go paying about $24.50 US a person.
Whereas the ride from Rishikesh to Manali ruined my sinuses, this ride was almost worse. First it was more circuitous. The roads follow the rivers and the rivers meander though the countryside with ‘Jane Russell’ curves and the deviousness of a Wall Street banker. Everyone was on the verge of barfing. Fortunately after the first hour and a half the driver had the good sense to stop in a grubby little town and we all bought ‘Vomiford” a little pill that saved us all from gross embarrassment and that nasty taste in our mouths, Description unnecessary – tilt!
The real insult was that the driver stopped for lunch. Lunch? Was the man mad? I had tea and dry toast – well, with a little butter, my downfall, but one little “Vomiford” saved me again, although for the rest of the ride I was queasy. The family on the other hand ate dal, with spicy veggies with chapatti. How could they do this? “We are used to it,” they said and the single man, Mohammad agreed. He then bragged about his iron stomach, and although I don’t know exactly what he ate, it was a full lunch, one of his real favorites. Yet I noted that Mr. Iron stomach, unlike me who only took one, was popping “Vomofords” like candy all the way to the airport.
Once we arrived, the plane was late but we made it to Delhi by 8:30 PM. I had lost a day in Delhi. After figuring the new cost of my trip from Manali to my Delhi, I was financially ahead about $130. But after that travel experience, I decided the physical cost was just not worth it and I would NEVER go to Old Manali again.