Published: January 10th 2006January 10th 2006
From Amritsar we took a car to Dharamsala with two men who spoke no english. 200km later with only one stop for samosas and a pee for the assistant drive, we were off again. We drove up into the mountains and attained 1745m. The road was treturously narrow in places, falling into the valley and in other places being constructed to a wider breath...an increase of one smart car!!
The valleys below could be seen at every hairpin turn. The views became so magnificent they took ones breath away:
1. terraced hillsides ready for rice plants.
2. small houses made of stone with slate rooves angled enough to be able to loose a winter's snowfall.
3.small villages with similar store fronts seen in every town andcity spewing their wares and garbage out into the street.
4.brick factories with piles and piles of six foot by four high collections of red bricks.
5. large flat areas covered in small green plants that seemed to be planted for animal fodder. And the ever present collection of rice grass in the trees.
6. luxury hotels painted beautiful colours with decorated facades to rival opulant Las Vegas and intricately laid out gardens behind high walls and ornate gates, advertised as retreats or spas in the middle of absolutely nowhere ... even a place called Canada Palace ...and huddles just meters away or a vast recycling area filled with refuse being picked through by families as in many other parts of the world.
7.auto rickshaws making the treck, carrying two air conditioners, wagons filled with story high rice grass being pulled by a scrawny pony, a rope beneath its tail and a sore on its hind quarter where only stark bone shows thru the matted hair of his hide.
8. and all the while the car is going at 85k an hour. This does not sound high but one must remember the car is passing the wagons and the auto rickshaws and the cycle rickshaws and all the while trucks and busses are coming towards us. It was a 200km game of chicken. Thank goodness we won!!
9.reaching Panthakot we became embroiled in a massive traffic jam with the horsecarts, rickshaws and pedestrians getting further ahead than cars. It was so polluted that the air was blue and it was hard to breathe. The driver did turn around and took a road around the t own. Once around we made good progress again. I did get some good shots here . Hot out of the newspaper .... six people killed in a traffic accident in Panthakot the morning we were passing through .... could this be the cause of the massive trasffic jam?
10. construction areas consisted of wide trenches in the ground for 2ft diameter cement drainage pipes, large piles of rocks and dirt and man and woman power to do the shiftingand digging and filling in.
11. bricks are used to become the border of the road standing on end. I saw women carrying these bricks from the big pile to the place where they were needed. One woman had sixteen bricks on her head!!
12.there were many cement bridges straddling rivers filed only with vast amounts of rounded off glacial rock.These river beds are waiting for the spring run-off from the mountains. People were seen in the river bed by a trickling stream, some washing pots, others washing clothes and still others searching for I know not what.
13. as we went higher into the Kanga Range we were able to look down into green valleys. Luckily we met people at forks in the road who knew in which direction Dharamsala and McCleod Ganj lay.
14. His Highness the Dalai Lama is not at home but we will visit his temple tomorrow.
15. We have a wonderful place to stay ... the best so far .... with a view that I have taken many photos of. The balcony is a convenient place to hang laundry and it was dry by lunchtime! It is verry very clean and we have a TV in the room with cable .... american movies are even more irritating here, especially those that attempt to be funny.
16. I am working on a keyboard that has a very hard space bar, so impossible that I am getting an extre half hour of internet use. I stuck with this computer because we eating dinner here in this hotel. We had to be goats with flashlights to get down here. At our hotel the dinning room is being renovated. it is trhe off season here.People are busy painting and building and during lunch wedid witness a number of street cleaners albeit they were sweeping dust right onto the vegetables offered for sale by the veg vendors.
17. There is much to buy of a Tibetan nature but this is eclipsed by the indian merchants with items from all parts of india.
18. Tomorrow we will take a twenty minute stroll UP to a place that makes traditional tibetan clothes. Hopefully I will find my much sought after tibetan fur hat!!
19. I spotted around twenty other tourists here. All but two refused to acknowledge our presence and did not return a friendly smile. Seems they want to believe they are the only ones viviting here at this time.
20. This is the best place and we are not moving from this little enclave until Jan. 12 when we will go, by hired car again, too Shimla. If you could see the condition of the local busses and the number of people packed into them you would forgive us our extravagance. Another reality check as to our age!!!! At 26 in Africa it was the greatest fun ... now one loves comfort too much !!!
What I Have Learned In India!.......and it only took ten days