The ski point in either Fagu or Narkanda, I do not exactly remember and trust me it is not worth googling, was another disappointment. I was lowering my bars of expectation already. i wanted to just keep on driving, so did Rishi.
Oh, I did get my first souvenir of the trip here. A plastic thread wrapped handmade tough cricket ball. Perfect round, handmade. It was easy to grip so good to toss around while hiking.
After Fagu was Narkanda, but we could have got there in two hours drive. we could not have wasted the rest of the day. Next stop was supposed to be Chitkul but that was too far to reach. I had so many things in my head early in the morning, it was almost hurting. We will stop over in chitkul, we are just going to waste another day in the middle. It was reaching my tipping point, and it did.
I took a break at a tea stall. and guess what i see there, a board advertising an awesome home stay in Fagu for half the cost as that govt guest house. The home stay was in the far end of the village. That would have had been some nice morning to wake up to. for sure better than the one i just had. I wanted to kill someone. I walked up to that guy. Sometimes, it just takes the moment to break the ice. he was telling me all about the valleys that lay ahead. I took a mental note of everything i needed. Rishi joined in, we had tea and smokes. I started to feel better. He told us about a place Saharan some 40 km off the highway which had some hundreds of years old Himalayan temple. We better have something to do if we are wasting a day. Saharan it was.
The temple was nice but then nothing close to what i had thought. it was wooden and made into a modern tourist attraction of ancient India for foreign travelers. we did see some firangs. i noticed their average age group, 40+.
We took the best of the worst hotels and i kept on whining. I told the guest house guy that i wanted to stay in the apple orchards around the place. he guided us to the end of the village where the town weirdo had an orchard overlooking which he had a decently made hut he rented to a danish girl for 6 months. She had painted all the walls inside and outside the hut. it had cows tied behind it. The room was good enough considering we had our sleeping bags. good spot in Himalayan villages. But i was not sure Rishi would be comfortable and the weirdo also told us he had people working in the orchard at night, considering it was harvest time for apples. I gave up the idea.
To my surprise Rishi showed interest in staying over that place when we came back to the hotel. What the hell?? Did i say it was a day of bloopers Rishi now felt like was in a mood for the rugged, lets do it buddy! *high five*.
Next day, we converted another idea of that weirdo where we was to lead us to a Hermit’s Aashram, 3-4 hours hiking distance from the town. It was uphill. Rishi agreed, he had done mountaineering before and it was my birthday. We started walking briskly, then slowly, then started breathing briskly,
then stopped altogether. This happened 4-5 times before we made it to the Hermit’s place in 4-5 hours. He was not happy to see us. Basically he never saw anyone from the village, he lived in solitude and ate uncooked food. but we could not trek back the same day. he cooked some veges and some rotis that day. we had to sleep in a log house with no doors and to add the flavors, it was that time of the year when you see the bears in that jungle. we didn’t have a very powerful torch, Fine, we hold the post till Dawn.
With the first light, we were ready to go back. so we started, there was no clear road leading to the village. I assured we can take anyone which feels like going downhill. Little did we walk we had the morning fog cover us and we could not see anything. Too dangerous to climb down, we sat there chilling with three kids of a small family who were either untouchables or exiled from the village, still at least 2.5 hours of hiking left. They loved the chocolates.
It was time to go.
We drove to kalpa. It was supposed to be a good place to stay. But we were late.
We did come across a travelers’ den in Kalpa, The kinds i loved but it failed to impress Rishi. Nonetheless we found a decent place to rest our bones, we also found some company. this group of three guys, two among them expats and the Indian was douche-bag. One of them wanted to stay in Kibber for a long time and the other was just travelling across India. It was decent evening company to catch dinner with.
Next stop was Sangla, my original destination. The hotel guy at Kalpa told us to stay in a village called Raksham just before Sangla. so be it.
The drive from Kalpa to Sangla was beautiful laced with apple bushes on both sides of the lane and the destination, Sangla, even better. We saw this old monk walking on the road with a load on his back. one step after the other, he just kept on walking at a small pace. He must at least be 5 hrs away from his destination. He had such calm face we did not feel like disturbing him. He just walked at a small pace.
Rishi found his own faith i guess. He found a Naga Baba covered with ashes, head to toe, sitting in a samadhi on the side of the road. He stopped the car even before i noticed. What the heck, lets chill with some burnt divine spirit this time. Baba was so much impressed with Rishi, more with his name. They had a bond i must say. That had its own platinum moment worth Rs. 2000.
We also gave lift to a Fauji who wanted to reach his base. He did not smoke, we shared fruits. he told us about the military in the area and i remembered Sangla was the last settlement before the Indo-China Border.
Quite a social journey. It was like god was giving us our last chance to be with humans. Soon enough we would not have many to see.
We had an amazingly lazy morning with amazing fresh food cooked at the guest house in Raksham. I had a job interview to negotiate before i went off the grid. Sangla was out last stop before we really took the plunge into the Himalayan desert of Spiti. It never rained beyond Sangla.
Sangla is one heaven on earth. I walked halfway from Raksham to sangla. Beautiful valley with white stones and red flowers. This will be what Kasol was 3 years back, and i am going to come here often.
The car refused to start after we crossed a Nala on the way to raksham. I was starting to feel things are going to be different.
But we have to go.