We survived the road to Keylong!!!

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of India  , Himachal Pradesh,
Sunday, June 17, 2012

The road to Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India -  A beautiful yet dangerous and bumpy ride to Manali involves a 22-25 hour drive with a stop over in Keylong. We decided to stay over in Keylong but had no idea what we were about to endure.

The start was a bit nervous, the driver and conductor found sleeping in the bus just before we left. We hoped they had a good nights rest! Had they just arrived from Manali? How much alcohol have they drunk? Questions questions questions!!

The first couple of hours were fine, wide roads, a nice stop for breakfast and coffee and safe and sensible driving. This route only opens from July to September. The road is closed for the rest of the year due to snow. Seeing as it was June, we were very lucky in experiencing driving across the world's second highest passable road. It took a couple of hours of driving up slippery, wet and narrow roads to reach around 5200m above sea level.

The views from the highest part of the drive were stunning! Once we had stopped climbing uphill, we began the descent, the very steep descent! We again decided to sit behind the driver and maybe this was not the best decision. Mainly due to the fact he was out of control, and drove completely inappropriately when descending! He seemed to want to accelerate when going downhill and took his foot off the peddle when coming to a piece of flat road. A few times, we complained to him for his driving but he didn't care. We were zig-zagging downhill on very narrow roads and seeing as he was driving so fast, we narrowly missed an oncoming bus while at the same time narrowly avoiding tumbling down a 100m drop to ultimate death! Another time, we underestimated a corner and had to break hard and reverse back a bit in order to make the corner.

The drive was incredibly stressful! Many of the other tourists sitting in the back were not as bothered, I guess they were unable to see how close we had come to falling down a mountain. We stopped a few times for refreshment breaks but when we stopped for 'bathroom' breaks, the driver deliberately stopped in the middle of nowhere with no rocks or anything to cover any of the female tourists who needed the bathroom. Needless to say, the driver was not popular and he just didn't care.

During the drive, we passed many Marmots that were standing by the road. We witnessed Marmots of different colours and this made the ride a little bit more enjoyable. We also drove through an area heavy with snow and performed our own Marmot impressions, well, I did.

In the last hour of the ride, we were wasted. Completely shattered! Exhausted and just ready to give up.

We arrived in Keylong after 18 hours of driving, but had to queue to buy our ongoing bus ticket. Sonja waited in line while I found a room in a cute little guesthouse, transferred the bags and once tickets were in hand, we found some food and were in bed very early. We were so so so tired! But also, so happy to still be walking and talking!

Next morning, we would continue onto Manali.

Next stop, finally arriving in Manali.

Thanks again to Sonja for sharing her pictures on this blog.
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