We Came, We Saw, We Left in a Hurry

We make our way from Karsog at about 09:30 towards Mandi, on roads winding through beautiful mountain forests. The views are spectacular and the riding is challenging and at some points downright scary. We average between 30 and 40km/h so it takes us a few hours to cover the 100-odd km distance.When we see a road sign signalling we’re 18km out of Mandi we get excited and contemplate our lovely guest house stay in Mandi.

We finally arrive. Mandi seems to a hole – dusty, grimy and it’s currently hosting a protest so the streets are absolute chaos. Unanimously we decide that today’s destination has to be Kullu instead, about another 70km further. We haven’t had breakfast and it’s about 14:00 so we park the bike opposite the only bar we see, hoping they will serve coffee. It’s a dark, grimy place with tinted windows facing the street. Aside from the bartender there’s only one Indian man sitting in the corner smoking cigarettes. We order coffee; it arrives; we cannot identify it as coffee, only brown water. We request more coffee powder and 15 minutes later about two tea-spoonfuls arrives on a saucer. We divide it up, drink our beverage and leave for Kullu.

3 hours or so later we arrive and I don’t recognize it. It’s a small town straddling the river and it’s chaotic and dirty. We cannot find any decent guest houses near the centre so we drive off the outskirts. We find a hotel which is on the river bank, a beautiful house with balconies, nice views and a lovely garden, but the room is disgusting. I don’t think cleaning staff come into play in this establishment. Yet we have no energy to continue the search and we know the odds of finding something better are slim.

After a shower and a rest (I watch Terminator Salvation in English on some sat channel) we ride down the main road about 1km and find a very simple Indian food kitchen. We have no idea what we will get here but we need to eat. I look at the food they’re simmering in their pots and order a dish of dark lentil stew, one of beans, an omelet each and some chapati. The meal is delicious and perfectly rounds off the hard day. Satisfied, we return home with a small bottle of whisky we buy at a nearby wine shop and have a couple of shots with coke before sinking into our sleeping bags for some well deserved rest.