Day 7 — Gramphu — Manali
I started the day feeling really good. The wind was a lot milder compared to what we experienced yesterday and the sun was shining brightly. We took our time to pack up our tents and our supplies. In the mean time, we took some selfies together!
Selfie with our assistant cook
Packing up our tents
It’s our last day out in the mountains! Back to civilisation 🙂 I was looking forward to taking our jeep at 0900 hours. When we arrived at our meeting point. The jeep was nowhere to be seen. We had no reception. That wasn’t looking good for us.
Vehicle nowhere to be seen
Our contingency plan was to flag some vehicle on the way back and hope that they have some space for us. One by one, the vehicles went by. None of them were empty. Khoksar, another town further down the mountain, could be the reason why they were all empty. Passengers could all be embarking there. We sent 2 of our guys down, in the hope that we could get a ride back. At this point in time, we still don’t know what happened to our vehicle.
Reception was intermittent and when we finally got reception, we found out that Rohtang Pass was blocked! And it wasn’t due to natural reasons. Rohtang Pass was blocked because the Taxi Union was on strike. Many vehicles go through Rohtang Pass in the summer season and this creates a lot of stress on the environment. The government thus imposed a limit to the number of vehicles that can travel through Rohtang Pass in a day. The Taxi Union opposed this policy and thus disallowed any taxi from passing through, which included ours. They were still compassionate enough to allow those living on this side of the valley to pass.
Our local coordinator thus offered to send a private vehicle as this would not be stopped by the Taxi Union. That wasn’t necessary as our vehicle managed to pass. Why is that so?
Well Edwin actually dislocated his finger this morning. And it was a medical emergency. We needed to get him to a hospital fast to minimise the damage done to his finger. Our driver gave that excuse to the President of the Taxi Union and he allowed him through. A blessing in disguise? Perhaps.
We were now more relieved as we had a vehicle en route. There were some locals nearby stacking rocks and I went to find out what they were doing. These rocks were to be used for construction of roads in this pass. The workers were only 18, 19 year olds and they came from other states in India. They had no choice but to leave their homes and work as they needed money. To make matters worse, their homes were generally sunny all year round. It must have been hard for them to get used to the harsh winter in the valley. I have always appreciated the fact that I was born in Singapore. I never really had to worry about clothing and food. It is only when we see this hardship overseas, that we appreciate our lives in Singapore even more. Income equality is very hard to achieve, but we should definitely work towards it.
Our vehicle arrived at 1200 hours!
I was looking forward to a shower in Manali, only to realise that the hotel we stayed in was fully booked. We had to stay in another hotel. Our bags were in that hotel and I had no clean clothes to change into. Edwin and the local coordinator were also busy as he had to get Edwin some medical attention. I was left alone and could not retrieve the bags. What else could I do then? Tandoori Chicken of course.
One full chicken at 240 Indian Rupees
Remnants of the chicken
I went back for a shower after this snack and packed some of my belongings. It wasn’t long before Edwin and I headed out for dinner and met some Singaporeans! What a coincidence. They were here for some community service.
I’m really glad to be back in Manali, and all I look forward to now is heading back to sunny Singapore! This trip has been a life changing experience for me. I read many philosophy books and self-improvement books. I hope to apply them when I get back. What I learnt deserves an entire post on it’s own. I shall leave that to next time.
Tomato egg soup
French fries, fried noodles, fried rice, all kerosene free 🙂