Days 16-18: The bus on the road to Manali

June 27th-29th, 2017

After Leh, we moved onwards to Manali. This journey took two full days and a night of driving. The path is treacherous, and to cover ground, the bus had to move at night. So, after making the final repairs, we left Leh in the afternoon.

Night is a lonely time to be on the mountains. There was a noticeable absence of the Tata transport trucks. The occasional tourist bus passed us, with their expert drivers, who were used to the terrain.

Mukesh did an amazing job at taking the bus through the difficult roads of Ladakh. He was a commercial vehicle driver and this was a lighter weight vehicle for him, so he easily maneuvered through the hairpin turns and rocky terrain, and did so quickly and efficiently.

The next morning, however, we all were stopped in the same place, even though we all left Leh at different times. We were stuck in a two kilometer long queue because of a landslide that had happened at 5 pm the day before. This area is known for its landslides and it is not uncommon to be stuck on the mountains for a couple of days, waiting for the road to be cleared.

While we were waiting, we noticed how others were passing their time. Many were drinking cup after cup of tea. A group of Punjabis were blasting music and dancing. Apparently, overnight, the members of the Sindhu Darshan – a hoard of 30 tourist buses that brought about annoying traffic jams all over Leh and Manali – had danced on top of their buses. But, this is India, and such ways to pass the time are quite expected!

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