Monday, 20 October 2008

Manali, a hotel in the clouds

The lonely planet describes Old Manali as "a small town which retains some of its mountain village charm" which is a lie. You can't walk more than 10 paces without passing another hotel and in between each hotel there is an adventure tourism shop and then dotted around them are small corner shops and souvenir shops. It has been turned into a holiday town meant mostly for the richer Indian travelers to spend their hot summer months in the nice cool mountains. Luckily for me I have arrived at the end of season and it is pretty dead here. a few western tourists and the odd coach full of local tourists. So far it has been a great place to recharge the batteries after Pakistan. I'm just relaxing with a cigarette and a coffee watching the world go by. Most people wont believe or even understand this but travelling is tiring. I need a holiday from my holiday and so I am going to spend about a week here doing nothing.

I have spent the last few days reconsidering parts of this trip. Been wondering if I really am the type of person who can travel by myself for another 8 months. I have had this really weird thought in my head "It's only 8 months and then you home and back to normality" and it is true, I miss many things about back home. Specifically quiz night, a good ol' english fryup, beer that is cold and where the % is set at 5% not between 5 and 8%, my friends & family and generally the steady rythem of life back home knowing what is going to happen tomorrow. But I really dont miss them quite enough to justify the thought of wishing this trip away. So why the thought? Well I have worked out that I really dont like being alone and the last few days have been the first time I have been alone in over 2 months. I spoke to another traveller the other day and she was saying she had the same thought at various times on her trip so I guess it's normal but that doesnt make it nice. So I think I have decided not to go to Aus. Partly because of this feeling I have been having but mostly because I dont really like the idea of completely disasembling my bike, cleaning it so it is completely spotless and rebuilding it just to get past customs and then paying almost $2000 for the privaledge. The main reason I wanted to go was to see the great barrier reaf but I can go diving in Thailand so I have to really think about that one for a bit.

Anyway Graham has caught up with me for a day or two and I expect to see Tino in Delhi. Decided not to go white water rafting up here. The water is too bloody cold and it will be just as good in Goa as well as being warm. So a few more days up here and then down to Rishikesh to try out the various forms of meditation.

Oh and someone pointed out my casual referencing to drugs so I thought I better address it. Firstly it isn't like I am high all the time, the truth is I have probably "smoked" less than 10 times in the whole trip. The casual references come from the casual attitude of the people in the areas I have been and I write about it because it is a major part of the cultural differences between the West and the rest of the world. A good example and a lesson in morals is Iran. In the UK we have this mentality that all drugs are morally wrong and are bad for us yet we have a huge drinking culture. In Iran drugs like opium and weed replace alcohol and it is alcohol drinkers who are the social outcasts who are throwing their lives away. Then in Pakistan the same kind of casualness and attitude exists. You don't get much more casual than the police giving away drugs. In India people walk up and down the streets smoking, old men sit in cafes around cups of tea smoking and the drugs are also used in several religious ceremonies as well as for medical reasons.

I'm not saying that drug taking in anyway is either right or wrong but it is very much worth considering more than just the local views you have been brought up on when considering the argument. The reality is that drug use is defined purely on the number of people using the drug. If the majority of people are taking the drug then it is considered an acceptable social activity. On the other side of the coin if the minority are using it then it is considered antisocial drug abuse.


fanboy said...

Mr Francis!

I'm in work at the moment (yes, I still have a job and no it's not voluntary) so can't talk for long. Will post when I get home.

Looks like you have had an amazing time but the highlight of your trip for me is your beard. I love it! Aileen has a slightly different opinion of it but she is just jealous because hers is not as bushy.

You probably don't give a crap about WoW but it is great at the moment. WOTLK comes out in 3 weeks and we already have the new talents. I need something to stop myself going insane!

Have a great "holiday".


Unknown said...

It isn't the best beard in the world. I am pondering different styles I can make it into when I get home. I am leaning towards braiding it. Or maybe not.

Been trying to call you for a few days but your never in. I figure you have found a way to spend your new found wealth which involves you not being home but that makes no sense. What time do you finish work? I tried on the weekend and I have tried during the week but 5:30 there is 10pm here and everything starts shutting down.

And no sorry, WoW doesn't really occupy my mind at the moment.

Talk soon,

Andy said...

Liking the map plotting the route so far a lot!!

fanboy said...

Finish work at around 5 but can sometimes be much later. Try phoning at 6ish, I should be in.

As for my new found wealth, I think the sully inn is enjoying a nice proportion. I've realised how nice a pint after work is and then how much nicer two pints are...

I'm going to take up braiding so I can increase my wealth at the same time as servicing you beard.

I'm loving the pictures and the map on the website. I'm showing all my colleagues who are now checking your site daily aswell.



fanboy said...

and Hi andy :)