I start my internship at a Delhi garment factory on Monday. With the start of work so close, I have time to recount one last episode of travel throes and excitements. They begin on the way to the Valley of the Flowers, a valley amongst the foothills of the Himalayas. I knew it would be at least somewhat challenging to make it there, as the train connection from Delhi goes only so far as Haridwar – the mountains being too treacherous for tracks – but I did not anticipate the mountains being as treacherous as they were to traverse. In the end, though, it was absolutely worth it and it leaves me with a story to tell!
The best place to start is the bus ride… the craziest bus ride of my life. It easily tops a 17-hour ride to Finnish Lapland and an 8-hour ride from Ankara to Istanbul squeezed against the window by a large matron (for 8 hours). Here are the details:
Departure: 5:30 a.m.
Duration: 10 hours
Speed and terrain: Fast, through bouncy serpentine mountain roads. Flying 6 inches into the air off a hard bump was not unusual.
Danger: I ask, “So do these buses ever fall off the cliff?” Response from a local: “Sure! My cousin was on a bus that tipped over last year.”
Adjacent passenger: Farmer, smelling of cigarettes and horse dung. No bigger than me, but with outstandingly obstinately overflowing elbows and knees. For 10 hours.
Number of passengers who vomited on the way up: 8
Number of passengers who vomited on my lap: 1. I was not planning to bathe in the Ganges, but the gods obviously had other plans for me!
After all of this (and a few other short bus rides), I started the hike. The air was beautifully thin and clear, and the pictures only start to do it justice:
So yes, it was worth it!
And I’m looking forward to starting work on Monday. You will hear from me again soon!