Day 12 August 19, 2010, Thursday

Sissu to Kullu

The day began badly and kept getting worse!
We woke up to a cold morning, cloudy skies and the weather did not seem too promising. In the morning rush to get out of the village of Sissu, I bumped my head yet again on yet another tiny bathroom door! I and Beni were packed up the first and in our quest to find phones to call overseas, we left first. 

We went through the same good sweeping roads but this time around, one of the few bad patches of small water crossings came up at the top of a slight climb. Braking hard, Beni locked up his wheels and slid, almost in slow motion right in front of me! He didnt really fall- the bike did- the first time the Avenger seemed out of its elements. However, all was well and we carried on. We hadn't moved 100 metres when rains came down on us- we had our rain gear on so we did not have to stop but the rain did slow us down a bit and the curves were still left. In search of the phone, we reached Khoksar but the phone was not working. Giving up, we finally decided to have breakfast while we waited for the others to catch up. The aloo paranthas that we had were deep fried in oil/ghee- reminded me of Chandni Chowk's Parantha Waali gali back home in delhi- this was delicious! The rain was not letting up and everybody came by only after 30 or 40 minutes. and they had the same breakfast.
Suku got gooebumps in the cold wet morning

The rain was not slowing down- if anything, it was getting worse and the restaurant guys urged us to go now before Rohtang pass became a bigger mess in this rain. Having heard slushy stories of Rohtang earlier, we decided to move on, even in the rain, The good part was that the rain soon died into a slight drizzle and completely stopped as we started our climb to Rohtang pass. And as we were about 12 kms to the top, we see slush- all across the road! However, we did a good job of going through it- a truck was slowing our progress so we had to overtake it, cutting through the thick mud. The slush here was probably only about 10 to 12 inches deep. A small stretch of good road came by which took us to the top where we congratulated each other- Bijoor san had  carried on by himself. As we went down, we met these bunch of frazzled kids from Mumbai (or was it B'lore?) who looked like they had seen a ghost. They asked us how the conditions were on the other side of the Rohtang etc- it had apparently taken them 10am to 8 pm to come up till there the day before from Manali and were waiting for some mech to fix one of their bikes!!!!! I almost felt sorry for them because, ahead of them lay the hardest rides of their lives!
A rare view from Rohtang

Celebrating at Rohtang

We did not know what to expect but very soon, we came upon the deepest slush we had ever seen in our lives- at some points the slush  came nearly knee-high! And what was making matters really bad was that we had to follow a traffic jam in this muck! Had we started even earlier, we would have probably met less traffic and it would be a smoother crossing for us. When I tried to bypass the traffic ahead of me from the left (the cliff side), I found deeper mud that nearly trapped me! A valuable lesson I had taught Suku in one of the water crossings came to my rescue- I just turned the handlebars across the road of mud and I was out in an instant and found a faster way to cut through the deep muddy mess. And we were all out except Dev- he was stuck and was not being able to move- just like in a few previous water crossings. He held up the line of vehicles behind him which held up vehicles coming from the other side! Truck drivers who managed to squeeze past him were reprimanding us for him trying to move the bike in fourth gear (or what sounded like fourth gear to them)! After washing up our mud covered shoes, we decided to go back and see what Dev was upto. We saw a man pushing him all the way out of the mud and the traffic finally moving from both sides almost immediately after!

Parked after the slush area where the truck drivers cursed us for Dev!

FInally Dev comes out-notice no vehicle behind him!

Happy to be out of the slush- even as Dev was stuck!

The "beautiful" clouds that blinded us later on!

The moment we started off, Dev and Kjo decided to rush downhill. At just around the bend from where we had stopped, Suku locked his bike's front and slammed into the road on his right side. The bike's crash guard was bent and all his protective gear saved him- right from his knee pads (which cracked!), jacket (back and shoulder) and helmet- the laces of his shoes, however though but thankfully nothing like what had happened to Alok earlier in Chhitkul. After making sure that he wasnt having a concussion and that his motor functions were normal we decided to descend, Tsering the driver right behind us. We saw more stretches with slush but it was really very little slush so it wasnt much of an issue and we thought that the worse was over. But thing became even more interesting.

What we thought was a beautiful cloud cover from the top was what we rode straight into. The more downhill we went, the thicker this mist/cloud was getting- Tsering had earlier remarked that we were lucky to even see a view from Rohtang and that the clouds are very normal there! Very soon visibility was reduced to near zero! I was following Beni who was in lead and we barely touched 20kmph in certain sections! After a point, it was getting to be too much and we let Tsering lead us till we got to more visible parts of the mountain road. For entertainment we had interesting musical truck horns all around us and we even found more deep slush but I think we got used to them like the water crossings and did not bat an eyelid as we crossed it even as a SUV was stuck in it! After crossing Kothi, we knew that we were on good roads finally. And the scenery was the same beautiful one that we had seen many days ago before Shimla- green and lush. Near Solang, we decided to lunch and have as much meat as we had been deprived off- we had chicken in our soup, the rice, the noodles and basically everything we could see in the menu! 
Suku incapable of making a gang sign!


Suku's roll in the mud when he ha fallen earlier

As the mist disappeared...

 became beautiful once again

Green, green everywhere!

After our pigging out we carried our descent to Manali and meet Mr. Bhuvnesh- he is the guy who was arranging the permits and cab for us if we had gone to Leh. He said he would rendezvous with us at a place called Bikers Point- a small local garage. Bijoor san and Dev got their bikes checked there while me, Beni and Suku just had our bikes washed- the first proper wash in days! Beni was doubtful of his bike for some reason and wanted only Bajaj mechanics to check the Avenger and Suku wanted to replace that left footrest panel so we decided to go ahead to Kullu for that- I thought that I should just get the headlight. We even bid goodbye to our soft spoken driver Tsering- he must have thought that he was on some kind of a joyride with us but maybe doing this wasnt new to him.
Bike wash!

We  crossed Manali and even Kullu to go to a place called Bhuntar where a Bajaj workshop was located. Beni got his chain tightened and got the right brake shoe for the rear tire. Suku got the new left footrest panel and got some of his electricals checked. I got a new headlight bulb! We headed back and it was dark already- we even encountered a slight drizzle but it wasnt much of a bother. We caught up with the rest-Bijoor san was still getting something fixed in Kullu and all the hotels that they had looked in the town were really not worth the price that they were asking. We were definitely back to the civilization and its exorbitant prices.

Staying true to our motto even in Kullu, we kept looking and found a hotel on the highway called Garden guest house by the Potdars- the owners were Marathis and were happy to find three people who spoke marathi in our group- I wish they had given some discount on that account but oh well. We got some sort of a suite with three rooms and two bathrooms. We had to walk back a bit to get dinner in a place called City Choice, a vegetarian joint much to our chagrin! We all ordered their "Special Thali in Ghee" but it took forever- everyone except me and Kjo fell asleep on the table. The food was okay but nothing extraordinary- by which I mean that there was no meat! 

We walked back through a slight drizzle and retired to bed soon enough- not before I got another bump on my head with yet another low doorway of the bathroom! As  I had expected, Beni had been feeling that tingling in his leg again today and went to bed trying to kill the pain. We expected good roads tomorrow onwards all the way to Chandigarh where we wanted to meet Mr Singh and give our regards. The trip, for the most part, was over but we still were a long way from home.

Total distance covered= 119 kms approx.
Total cost=Rs. 815
[Breakfast= 55 + Lunch= 240 + Dinner=245 + Stay= 275]

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