Saturday, 10 November 2012

If it was that bad in a car, what the hell would a bus be like?!

Saturday 10th Nov

So today we went on a day trip into the mountains and Himalayas. We had to meet at Bhandari for 6.30am and wait for our car. Ali rung Sam to say it was already there and so we went down to find was a fecking tiny car, like I'm talking 3-door Corsa tiny! We set off and were told it was 2 and a half hrs to Surkanda Devi, one of the highest temples in Uttarakhand. That was fine, until we realised it was 2 and a half hours of tiny, bumpy, bendy mountain roads with sheer drops (stunning views though). Me and Sam felt severely car-sick the entire journey and it didn't help that our driver was erratic - fast, brake, fast, brake...grrrr JUST DRIVE AT A NORMAL SPEED! Had to tell him to slow down half way into it as we were being catapulted around the bends, plus there was a moment when I actually thought we were going to go over the edge!

Made it in one piece to the temple...except that the temple was a nice steep 1000m walk up the mountain!! Feck. What had we signed ourselves up for?! This walk was tough, Arne managed to power on ahead but Sam, David and I found it hard so had a break every few metres lol. We met a lovely stray dog, which Sam and David, the ever bickering couple (husband and wife joke is now continuous) couldn't agree on a name for, so I decided to just call her Jasmine Sazzles so that she had both names, to settle the dispute. It took us around an hour and a half to walk this mountain, our driver had said not to be too long as to fit everything in we'd need to leave soonish...we didn't get back down til midday haha.

Arrived at the Temple and had a look around, ate some Prasad (holy/blessed food - tastes like nut-paste) and took in the breathtaking views. Then we thought we really deserved a cup of Chai for our climb, so went and ordered some at the tiny little shop. Also got some Masala Crisps, which were mega spicy and Arne got a coconut(?!) - quite entertaining watching him bash open a coconut with a small hammer, at a temple on top of a mountain!
The descent was much better, probably took us quarter of the time to get down as it did to hike up. Sam and I really weren't looking forward to the drive, but it was apparently only an hour and a half until the next place, Mussoorie, the 'Queen of the Hills' British Raj-era Hill Station. It's a little village in the mountains at 2500m that's supposed to have stunning views of the Himalayas (which it did), and be a cute little place (which it wasn't!).

Instead we arrived at a tacky little hill station, that was now way too touristy (it's apparently where a lot of indian honeymooners go). We were starving so looked up in David's German Lonely Planet, where was best to eat, and saw that the 'Revolving restaurant' was supposed to be good so took a cycle-rickshaw to was the drabbest place ever! It looked as though it had been built in the Raj-era and never restored since, and it's 'revolving' was basically like being on a shoddy fair-ground ride, you can feel every turn/bump. The guys ate but me and Sam decided to stick to bread as we didn't wanna get sick.

After, we took a walk up to the cable car, which again, the Lonely Planet had was shit! Lol Yes all this had character and it indeed gave us many laughs, but that was all it came down to. We paid £1 for a 2min ride (which is expensive on Indian money terms), and were dropped off at what looked like it could have been a fairground, except it was more just a concrete square, with some tacky shops and ‘shoot the duck’ type games. It did however offer stunning views of the Himalayas and surrounding mountains.

So we took the shoddy cable-car back down and took the walk back down Mall Road. Along the way we got a few other spectacular laughs; a market stall selling ‘blow pens’, a traditional costume shop of furry looking clothes, which we tried to get David to try on but he wouldn’t so instead we imagined it and it was quite something, and then an old man walking down the street...carrying a washing machine on his back, as you do.

We were going to get a pony ride but it ended up being too long and expensive, so instead just went to another restaurant which was mega expensive for some tea and snacks, before heading back to the dreaded car. The car journey back to Rishikesh wasn’t too bad. There were less bendy roads and more chaotic straight roads through Dehra Dun, some crazing over-taking and horn-blasting. And after 3 long hours we were dropped back at our guesthouse.

As it was my last night in Rishikesh we decided to quickly freshen up and take a rickshaw down to Lakshman Jhula for a meal at Ganga Beach Restaurant. I went to say goodbye to Otto before leaving and then we headed back up – not without a scary pack of stray, rabies-ridden dogs barking menacingly at us and following us up the hill! (We were even more scared since last night we’d been told by a Norwegian guy of how he was chased down a dark alley by a pack who kept trying to bite him, resulting in having to climb and jump over a wall to get away and scraping his arm up pretty bad. So we were particularly cautious about stray dogs now.)

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