Another long, curvy bus ride and I arrived in Manali, from where I immediately took a rickshaw to Vashisht further up river. I chose a hotel high up with a great view of the green mountain on the other side of the river and the distant snow-caped mountains to the north. From my balcony I could hear the rushing of the river amplified by the valley.
I ended up having problems with my hotel. The first night, my room with a great view turned out to have ticks. They changed me to a different room but I when a tick that had been sucking on my scalp fell a few hours later, I decided to change no matter what. The next place was cheap, which was good, but the owner lied. He said they had wifi, when actually he was stealing it from the hotel across from him. He suggested I stand next to that building to use wifi. I didn’t need wifi, but out of principal I changed again. Finally I found a place up the mountain with a great view and a good price, and I settled there for three days.
The town is quite nice. I happened to be there during the time of a festival that happens only every 7 years. I’m not sure what god it was for but I enjoyed stopping by the main square to watch the procession and listen to the music.
Near the town is a waterfall that’s an hour hike up the mountain on the same side of the river. I went in the late afternoon and luckily there were no other people in that area at that time. I hiked up passing a series of small waterfalls and a stream of cold, fresh mountain spring water. I stopped a few times to splash my face and neck. I got close to the top and made spot to lay with my poncho and just enjoyed the view until the sun disappeared behind the other mountain and I started back down.
One day an Israeli friend and I rented some Royal Enfields and took a ride to the Solang Valley. We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain and walked around near the summit for a while, enjoying the sunny but cool day in the mountains. When we got down we rode north to the Rohtang Pass. There I felt I really put my recently-acquired motorcycle skills to the test. The switch-back road up the mountain is a one-lane sized road with two way traffic. Trucks and cars took turns pulling to the edge to let the other slide by, the vehicles usually within centimeters of each other. The impossibly high road is devoid of any curbs or guard rails, and oftentimes we were riding near the edge. The whole way up I couldn’t help but be in awe of the scenery. The green and gray mountains looming in the distance made me feel like a speck of sand on a beach. We stopped at the top of the Rohtang Pass and took a walk to a huge slope on the mountain. We sat there taking in the exquisite view before us. By then we felt like we had had enough switchback fun and made our way back down the mountain. We got back to the Manali area before sunset and returned the bikes. That was one of my favorite days of riding.