Enjoying big city life in Delhi, and the bus ride from hell

Even after all this time on the road, arriving in Delhi was nerve wracking. While looking for accommodation, we came across lots of reviews saying stuff along the lines of, "Nice accommodation, but Delhi is horrible and I hope I never have to come back here".

We met folks on our travels in Rajasthan who were deliberately avoiding Delhi altogether, either because they had no desire to go there, or because they'd been before and had no desire to go back.

Despite all our trepidation, we loved our time in Delhi. We spent time relaxing, exploring, enjoying the wide range of cuisine available, and generally having a great time in a big city that felt more like home.

I mean sure, it wasn't really like home. There are still the cows, and stray dogs obviously. And it's pretty dirty, with rubbish thrown everywhere. And there's a functioning public transport system, unlike Auckland. But all in all, while we love exploring smaller towns, cities are usually where we get to recharge our batteries, and pretend, at least for a little while, that things are normal!

Getting our bearings, and Connaught Place

Our first morning started with a well deserved sleep in after our dramatic late night arrival into Delhi. Our accommodation was really interesting. We had a big room with an ensuite in an apartment with a shared kitchen and living/dining area, but it was really hard to tell if anyone else was staying there, or whether the other people there were staff. When we ventured out into the kitchen, a man came out of one of the rooms and stood in the doorway, openly gaping at us. Eventually I turned around and said, "Are you alright?", and he laughed sheepishly and scampered back to his room. Very odd. Regardless, our room was great, and it was in an awesome area, a couple of blocks from a metro station.

We decided to take our first day slowly, so after a waffle breakfast (score!), we hit up the metro. It was super easy to use (aside from the bag scanning and over-enthusiastic pat down every time you enter a station), and we set off. The stations were spacious, clean and easy to navigate, and unlike many of our other experiences in India, the whole process was pretty orderly.

We arrived in Connaught Place in no time. Home to chain stores and western restaurants, we were excited to seek out something familiar. We exited the metro station to see a huge park in the centre of a roundabout. In the centre flew an enormous Indian flag (which refused to play ball and show itself properly for our selfies...). We wandered through the park, then spent an hour or so poking around the shops, knowing that we can't fit any more stuff in our bags. After a stop for lunch, we headed back to our accommodation, stopping first at a supermarket to pick up cereal (it's amazing what you crave when you can't get it easily) and snacks for the next few days.

Red Fort and Jama Masjid

With our first experience on the metro under our belts, we set out on a more ambitious second day in Delhi - checking out the Red Fort and Jama Masjid.

Red Fort

Without too much trouble, we made our way to Red Fort, and sorted out our entry tickets and audio tour (obvs). The huge fort was home to the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty for nearly 200 years until 1856, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Perhaps, a month ago, we would have thought the fort was spectacular. After all our time in Rajasthan, touring many incredible forts, Red Fort was a little disappointing. It was crowded and noisy, and many of the areas inside were being renovated, so were unable to be accessed. It didn't help that it was pushing 40 degrees, and we were sweltering.

Despite the heat and construction, we found some moments of calm, especially in the gardens filled with squirrels!

Jama Masjid

From Red Fort, it was a short but chaotic walk to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. As we went to enter, I was told I had to put on a 'gown', despite being covered from elbows to ankles, and having my hair covered. The man who was insisting on it then started putting it on me, until I snapped at him to stop touching me, and that I could do it myself. I was already boiling from the outside temperature, and being swathed in 40m of polyester was not helping matters. It was also about a foot too long for me, and I kept tripping over it as I walked.

The motherfucking muumuu

As we entered, the mosque itself was beautiful, but I couldn't help but be distracted by the scores of Indian women surrounding me with their hair uncovered while wearing sleeveless shirts. I stumbled my way over to the mosque, we saw signs everywhere saying that only worshippers were allowed to enter.

Instead, we bought tickets to climb the 40m high minaret on one of the corners of the complex. Again, I stumbled up the tiny staircases and got to the top to find it filled to the brim with people, who were not at all interested in making room for us when instead that could just block the staircase and gape at us as if we were sideshow attractions. Even though the view over the winding back streets was pretty great, the whole experience was a huge downer, and I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Views from the minaret

Naturally, Zev found the whole muumuu scenario hilarious, and about an hour later, I did too. As I sweated through the dress equivalent of a shellsuit though, I was NOT laughing.

In an effort to salvage the day, we headed off to Hauz Khas, where apparently we could get some good lunch. We jumped off the metro at Hauz Khas station, and found out that it was actually 2.6km away from Hauz Khas. So in the heat of the day, we walked. And walked. And walked. This did not improve our moods.

We ended up getting a pretty good lunch. We ate beef for the first time since Goa, and even if I had to send my medium-rare burger back because it was still mooing, it definitely ticked some boxes.

We walked back to our accommodation through a local park, Zev stopped for a haircut, and we called it a day.

Delhi Modern Art Gallery, the National Science Centre, and some Ultimate Frisbee

Delhi Modern Art Gallery

Content with a more relaxed and laid back third day in Delhi, we sought out activities that revolved around air conditioned buildings. We lucked out by arriving to the Modern Art Gallery at 10.58am, not knowing that it didn't open until 11am anyway - for once, our lack of motivation to get out of bed in the morning had paid off.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that one of the temporary exhibitions on display was an ANZAC Centenary Print Portfolio, showcasing the work of artists from Australia and New Zealand. On the same floor was another exhibit called Codici, which combined computer programming, music and tactile sculpture into interactive pieces. It was pretty fun to be encouraged to touch the art for a change!

About half an hour after we arrived, a man called us back to the foyer to give us a run down of the gallery and how worked, which somehow turned into an incredible (free) 1.5-2 hour private tour. I'm not sure exactly what the guy's role was at the gallery, but he was great - he showed us around, talked about how art had evolved over time in India, and was generally just fascinating and engaging.

Eventually, he had to leave us, so we went to the cafeteria for some much needed sustenance. The cafeteria turned out to be a counter with a small glass cabinet containing potato chips and bottled fizzy drinks. Zev accidentally ordered us a couple of masala sodas, so we cooled down with a 'nice' salty and spicy lemonade, while hoping that our bags of potato chips would tide us over until we could find somewhere with a wider variety of cuisine choices...

National Science Centre

A short tuk tuk ride later, we arrived at the National Science Centre. While primarily advertised as a great place to take kids, we thought it would be fun to spend the afternoon out of the heat, playing with some cool interactive science gadgets. 

As soon as we stepped in the doors, it became pretty obvious that, although this may once have been an incredible state-of-the-art facility designed to capture children's imaginations, that time had long since passed. The whole place was dated, run down, and largely out of order. As an example, the Future Technologies gallery showcased such wonders as fax machines, satellite phones, and pocket PCs.

One pretty cool display though was the 'Energy Balls'; 6 inch nylon balls which are raised to a height of 50 feet before being released down a track which branches off all over the place. It was fun watching the balls zoom past, and fly across jumps and land in baskets, only to be taken back up to the top to roll back down again. Perhaps the fact that this was such a highlight was indicative of the overall quality of the rest of the museum...

On the way home, we decided to splurge a little, and headed to a fancy convenience store near our apartment. It was filled to the brim with delicious but expensive foreign treats, so we stocked up on some goodies and headed home to make ourselves some ice cream floats! They were amazing, and the leftover ice cream kept us going for the next couple of days...

Ultimate Frisbee

In the interests of ensuring that we didn't turn into complete slugs, we sought out a little frisbee. We found out that there was a night game of 5-a-side going on not too far from where we were staying, so we jumped on the metro and made our way there. For 200r ($4) each, we played a couple of hours of social frisbee under lights, met some new folks, and even got to catch up with one of our old team mates from Goa, Jatin.

At the end of the games, we got invited for a drink near our apartment, and so we spent an hour or so chatting to our new friends, picking their brains about where to go next, and even got invited to join them on a trip up North in a couple of weeks! Yet more evidence that the Ultimate Frisbee community both in India and worldwide is a pretty special bunch.

Monkey Bar

Feeling pretty lazy after our intense exercise the night before, we opted to have a relaxing next day. We headed out that night to meet our friend Megan for dinner. Megan is an American living in Delhi, and we first met her in Chiang Mai, and then met up with her again at the frisbee tournament in Goa. She invited us to meet her at Monkey Bar, which was a super cool restaurant and bar housed in what looked like a giant pyramid-shaped greenhouse. While the loud music made it a little difficult to talk very easily, we managed to catch up on what we'd each been up to since Goa, and picked Megan's brains for places to go once we left Delhi. Dinner and dessert were delicious, and we headed home with big smiles and full bellies, in one of the most death-defying Uber rides of our life.

Trying to bolster our moods with a trip to the mall, an escape room, and a jazz bar

The Mall

It's no secret that we've both been feeling a little road weary lately. We've been on the road for nearly 3.5 months now, and the constant moving, foreignness of our surroundings, and impact of being so obviously 'not from here', not to mention having to eat every meal out is really taking its toll. The excitement we felt from just being able to buy cereal and milk, and eat a 'normal' breakfast every day was ridiculous.

Usually, when we start to feel like this, we seek out activities that make us feel a little bit more normal. In this case, we decided to head to a mall to check out some shops, and maybe catch a movie. Sadly, it didn't work this time, and we both left feeling even more rudderless than before (despite getting to visit one of my favourite stores, Muji, which we don't have in New Zealand).

Escape Room

In another attempt to get ourselves out of our funk, we went to play yet another (we really like them) escape room. This one was zombie themed, and pretty bloody hard. We just managed to get out in the nick of time, but only after a couple of clues and me accidentally cheating... It was super fun though, and definitely helped to put a smile back on our faces after feeling pretty average for most of the rest of the day.

Piano Man

From the escape room, we headed to nearby Piano Man, a jazz bar that had been recommended by the folks we'd met at frisbee the other night. When we arrived, we were informed that all the tables were booked out, but we could eat in the restaurant upstairs, then for 300r ($6) per person, we could come back down to the bar and stand to listen to the music.

Dinner was delicious, and we were full and happy as we headed down to check out the music. We didn't realise that the band wasn't starting until 9.30pm, so we had some time to kill before they came on, so we tried to get a drink. The bar was pretty busy, and it was unclear how exactly you were supposed to order, so after trying unsuccessfully for 10 minutes, we gave up.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, while we waited for the music to start, the whole bar filled up. And I mean FILLED UP. There was nowhere to sit, nowhere to stand, and no way to not be in the way. It was definitely a fire hazard, and we both started to get a little claustrophobic.

Eventually, then band started up. Jazz it was not! It was actually pretty funky - they played mashed together covers of popular songs with an Indian twist, but it certainly wasn't what we expected. Combined with the general discomfort of our surroundings, we weren't really feeling it, and we made a hasty exit when the band took their first break. That in itself was a mission, as the walkways were packed with people, making getting to the staircase a mammoth effort, and then the staircase was filled with sitting people who weren't getting out of the way for anyone. Eventually we broke out, and enjoyed a short walk home, reveling in all the personal space we'd regained!

A change of accommodation and a trip to a sports store

We'd made the executive decision to extend our time in Delhi. Although generally feeling a bit slumpy, we were enjoying Delhi and all its big city offerings, and the incredibly easy to navigate public transport system. Besides, we hadn't get decided where we were going from Delhi, or how we were getting there, so we didn't have much of a choice but to stay.

Sadly, our apartment was booked out for the rest of our stay, so we had to move. Sounds easy enough, but in India, nothing is easy! You can have the address written in English and Hindi, and have it marked on a map, but you still won't be able to find it!

Our Uber driver dropped us off close to where we thought our new accommodation was, and we set out on foot to find the exact location. After an hour of walking around in circles with our packs on, sweating through our clothes, we finally found someone who could point us in the right direction, and we found it.

Let me tell you, it was worth the drama. We were greeted by a huge fluffy dog, whose name we think was Trump (although it was hard to tell exactly what the owners were calling it). Our room was enormous (honestly pretty close to the size of our old apartment back in NZ), with a big ensuite and walk in wardrobe, and french doors opening onto a grassy area with a healthy squirrel population.

TRUMP! Maybe. We're still not entirely sure what his name was...

We made ourselves at home, before popping out for lunch, and spent the afternoon enjoying our new surroundings.

In the evening, we headed out on a mission - to go to a sports store. After our frisbee game the other night, I was getting quite a lot of pain in my left knee. It's an old injury and I know what the problem is (IT band syndrome), but I'm very lazy about rehabbing it because when it doesn't hurt, it doesn't hurt, so it's easy to pretend there's nothing wrong!

Sadly, the pain in my knee after one game of frisbee made me realise that if I have any hope of being able to complete the Everest Base Camp hike next month in Nepal, I need to start doing something about this knee right now.

It took us about an hour to walk to the sports store, which honestly, my knee didn't love. We made it to Decathlon and spent about 30 minutes wandering the aisles, picking up the necessities (a knee strap, a yoga strap and a massage ball), and joking about buying 10kg tubs of whey protein and ankle weights.

Luckily, very close by we found an excellent Japanese restaurant, so enjoyed another break from curry and naan.

More credit card woes, Qutb Minar, Mehrauli and Lodhi Gardens

After trying to get in touch with the bank for a week, because my credit card kept declining for no apparent reason, I received word that they had blocked my credit card because of suspicious transactions. Sadly, the transactions really were suspicious - it seems my credit card has somehow been scammed, even though I've actually never even used it in India (the transactions that had been declining were online, on reputable US based websites). First Zev, now me, what a pain in the ass. So now neither of us have working credit cards. While it's not the end of the world, it certainly feels like a bit of a safety net has been taken away! Luckily we can get our new ones when we meet up with Zev's family in the US in a couple of months - neither of us could get them sent to us in India because we don't stay anywhere long enough for them to arrive.

Qutb Minar and Mehrauli Archaeolgical Park

Once that was sorted, we decided to to tick off another couple of tourist attractions. Our first stop was Qutb Minar and the Qutub Complex.

After a decent walk from the metro station, we found the ticket booth positively buzzing. Luckily the huge queues were for the local tickets, and the foreigners line had no one in it - which made us feel a little better about paying 500r to get in, when locals were paying 20r. The local line was being fiercely patrolled by a security guard with a baton who was taking none of your queue jumping shit, thank you very much. After asking one man twice to move away and stop trying to push in, he started yelling at him and physically moved him away. Serious business.

We entered the bustling complex, which is made up of a collection of monuments and buildings, including the famous Qutb Minar. Qutb Minar is a 73m (239.5 foot) tapering minaret which towers over the park. The carving details on all the buildings in the complex was breathtaking, and spent some time exploring the semi-ruined structures and enjoying the breeze and shade.

From there, we went next door to the Mehrauli Archaelogical Park, which contains over 100 more historically significant monuments. Entry to the park was free, and we saw lots of families flying kites and enjoying the green spaces. As we made our way to the exit, a police car pulled up to check that we were having a good time, and that we had everything we needed! We carried on back to the metro station to head to our next stop, Lodhi Gardens.

Lodhi Gardens

After grabbing a quick bite to eat from a side of the road noodle stall, we wandered in to check out Lodhi Gardens. This was actually a bit of a boo boo on my part - I thought I had read that there was lots of street art in the park. It turns out that the art isn't actually in the park, it's all around the surrounding suburb, and without a map pinpointing where the art was to be found, we were lacking the energy to go and hunt it out.

Instead, we took a quick wander through the peaceful green Lodhi Gardens, before jumping on the metro home, thoroughly pooped from a full on day of walking around in the sun!

Elusive onward bus tickets and life admin

With our checkout date for our lovely accommodation the following day, it was time to get our asses into gear for organising onward travel. While previously we had managed to book bus tickets online using Amazon Pay, the government is apparently now requiring people using Amazon Pay to prove that they are Indian citizens by providing extra proof of identity (such as a passport number) to continue to use it. There goes our work around for the website not accepting international credit or debit cards...

As such, to book our onward travel, we had to resort to the old fashioned way - going into a travel agent.

While Zev caught some extra sleep, I decided to head out to book our bus tickets. Google showed lots of travel agents in our area, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

Boy was I wrong. After the first 3 places I tracked down using Google didn't exist, I decided instead to just follow my nose until I found something. An hour later, I had discovered that 75% of the travel agents in our area were closed, and the remaining 25% didn't sell bus tickets. Defeated, I headed back, at least bring some breakfast back with me so that I had something to show for my morning's efforts.

With breakfast complete, we instead decided to head to the backpacker district, knowing that where you find backpackers, you find people trying to sell shit to backpackers - so what better place to find a travel agent selling bus tickets.

We'd deliberately avoided the backpacker area, reading reports that it was dirty and pretty unsafe, and generally just an unpleasant place to be. As we got off the metro and walked on to the street, we were swamped by tuk tuk drivers (who luckily weren't very aggressive, but I can still see how it would be intimidating), and hit full in the face with the aroma of shit and piss. As we walked down the road and over the overpass to the backpacker district, we passed a few drug addicts passed out, surrounded by needles. If this was your first impression of Delhi, or worse, India, I understand all the comments we read about people wanting to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. 

As luck would have it, within 5 minutes, we'd found a travel agent who sold us tickets for about the price we'd seen advertised online. He told us to come back to the shop between 4.30-5pm the following night, and he'd arrange for someone to take us to the bus stop 5 minutes away because it was difficult to explain where it was. This was all pretty standard stuff, so we left happy, and went back to Connaught Place for some lunch, before heading home to book accommodation in our next destination, Manali, and generally get ourselves organised to move on.

Baha'i House of Worship and the travel day from hell

We've talked before about how travel days suck, and travel days before a night bus are a special kind of hell. While lots of people see night buses as a way to avoid paying for accommodation for a night, I find them a painful waste of time. You generally have to check out of your accommodation by lunch time at the latest, so then you have a whole long, hot afternoon to fill before climbing on a bus to get a terrible sleep. You then arrive at your destination at the ass crack of dawn shattered, and sometimes unable to check into your next accommodation until later in the day. Then there's the stress of getting to the bus station, and at the other end, getting from the bus to your accommodation. Yep, I hate it.

Luckily check out time from our apartment wasn't until 1pm, so we didn't have too much time to fill until we needed to be back at the travel agent for our bus. To pass the time, we decided to check the Baha'i House of Worship, AKA the Lotus Temple.

Again we boarded the trusty metro and rode it two stops, before walking about a kilometre through a nice park to the temple entrance. Entrance was free, and after a security screening, we entered the grounds.

Set in a 26 acre property, the striking temple is designed to look like a lotus flower. Reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, it is composed of 27 free standing marble-clad 'petals', arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. All of the water used to care for the gardens is recycled, and roughly half of the temple's electricity needs are met with solar energy.

In accordance with the Baha'i faith, the temple is open to all, regardless of religion or gender, which I think is awesome. Certainly many of the world's conflicts could be solved by more religions being tolerant of those with differing beliefs, but that's another post for another day...

While not quite 'silent', as advertised, the temple certainly felt like a calm oasis, despite the large volume of visitors in the grounds. 

After grabbing some lunch at the metro station, we headed back to the apartment, collected our bags, said goodbye to Trump, and jumped in an Uber to the travel agent.

And this was where things started to come unglued...

The WORST bus ride we have ever taken. And we've taken a LOT of bus rides...

Traffic was bonkers, and no sooner had we got in the car than it started to rain - not helpful. At one point, our Uber driver tried to go the wrong way down a motorway off ramp. After an excrutiatingly long time, he dropped us off around the corner from the travel agent, just minutes before 5pm.

As we hurried around the corner to the travel agent, my phone started ringing - it was the bus company. After asking where we were, as I tried to answer, the man on the phone launched into a detailed explanation of where we needed to go. His heavy accent combined with the overwhelming traffic noise made it impossible for me to understand what he was saying. I tried several times to explain that we were just about to arrive to the travel agent, and that he was going to arrange to get us to the bus, and that I couldn't hear or understand him, but he just kept talking over me. In the end, I hung up, realising that the conversation was a waste of time. He called again and the same process repeated.

Finally we fell through the doors of the travel agent, apologising profusely for being late. I explained that the bus company had been ringing, but we couldn't understand what they were trying to tell us, so asked if he could call them to find out what they wanted. He called them, and then immediately gave the phone to me. AHHHHHHH I CAN'T UNDERSTAND HIM!!!!!

After 5 more minutes of the same shit, we ended up in a tuk tuk, hopefully going to the right place. When we booked our bus tickets, we were told the tuk tuk to the stop would cost 10r. As we walked out to flag a tuk tuk, we were told 40r. By the time we got in, it was 100r. Grrrr....

By now it was pouring with rain, and we were in gridlock. It would have been faster to walk, but we had no idea where we were going. We received three more confusing phone calls from the bus company before putting him on with the tuk tuk driver, who seemed to sort the situation out.

15 excrutiating minutes, 1km, and 100r later, we got out of the tuk tuk and followed the bus company guy to the bus. We put our bags under the bus, and of course had to pay 40r for the privilege...

We were delighted however to get on board a really nice, virtually empty bus, with seats that reclined almost flat with leg rests that were far nicer than any economy class plane I've ever been on. We overheard a bus worker telling some other tourists that the back half of the bus wasn't booked, so they could spread out if they wanted. This was shaping up to be a great bus ride!

The combination of the weather and traffic meant that 2 hours later, we were still just getting out of Delhi. We pulled off to the side of the road. The bus was 'broken down', so we had to get on another bus. Of course this was bullshit. They hadn't sold enough seats on this bus to make it worth them driving all the way to Manali, which was supposed to take 14 or so hours, so they palmed us off onto another bus.

The other bus was much MUCH worse than our first bus. For starters, it was PACKED. Every single seat was taken by the time the people from our bus got on board. We were seated in the row in front of the back row, and the back row contained six guys in the late teens or early twenties that were talking so loudly I wonder if they all had hearing impairments. The seats reclined back a decent amount, but there were no leg rests, so you were still basically sleeping sitting up.

By the time we took off again, it was 8.30pm. We'd been on the road for 3 hours, and we were still on the outskirts of Delhi. The guys behind us wouldn't shut up, so I put on my blessedly noise cancelling headphones (which even STILL didn't quite drown them out) and started counting down the hours until we arrived in Manali.

About an hour later, we stopped for dinner. This was not unexpected - in reality I was grateful, because I figured most people would get back on after the dinner stop and go to sleep, so at least it would be quiet.

Sadly no. People got back on, but the guys behind us were full of beans and ready to party! I resigned myself to getting no sleep at all, and settled in for a long night of podcasts.

As we hit the road again, the guys behind us piled on several of the polar fleece blankets provided by the bus company, and then insisted on having the hatch window on the roof of the bus open so that it was freezing. For once I was pleased that the bus was such a piece of shit, because every time we hit a pothole, which was about once every ten seconds, it popped closed, so it was never cold for very long.

I think our bus driver might have missed out on a few driving lessons. His favourite manouvers were speeding excessively at every given opportunity so that he could slam on his brakes as he caught up to the car in front or approached a corner, and overtaking into oncoming traffic on blind corners. Because the seats had no leg rests, every time he braked, I just slid off the seat onto the floor in front off me, so I had to spend the entire journey bracing with my legs to make sure I didn't get a concussion. I'm sure he was no worse than any of the other night bus drivers we've had, but normally I'm asleep, so I don't have to witness the terrible driving.

After about two hours of hell driving, we stopped on the side of the road again. I took the opportunity to rub my bruised knees and elbows. For no reason that I could determine, we stayed there, parked on the side of the road, for close to an hour. I checked Google Maps. It was now 11.30pm, and Google was telling me we were still 9 hours and 40 minutes away. So much for our scheduled 7.30am arrival time...

For the rest of the night, I caught short snippets of sleep before being violently thrown from my seat, or waking to find some part of my body had gone numb. Our mystery road side stops repeated at least twice more that I was awake for, and I found myself anxiously checking Google Maps to discover that although the hours were ticking by, this was no reflected in any noticeable decrease in the time to our destination. Despite my simmering rage and loopy sleep deprived brain, I managed to spend at least some of the journey enjoying the stars out the bus window...

Finally, at around 6.30am, we stopped for breakfast. I was so tired and uncomfortable that I hadn't even noticed all the people on the bus around us throwing up into plastic bags, until I saw someone throwing up outside the bus. Thank god for medication, or I would have been one of them.

At 7am, we departed again - somehow, we were still three hours away from Manali. The roads were appalling - more potholes than road, and two hours later we pulled over. According to Google, we were still two hours away from Manali. Everyone started getting off the bus, so Zev went to find out what was happening. We were changing buses. AGAIN.

Our third bus for the journey was nicer than the one we'd spent the night on, which was frustrating. Traffic was at a standstill. It honestly looked like they were building the roads as we drove on them.

Finally, FINALLY, just under three hours later, and just under 18 hours since leaving Delhi, we arrived in Manali. As we disembarked the bus, we relished the cool mountain air and took in our first non-bus-window-obscured views of the snow capped Himalayas. We jumped in a taxi to our backpackers, checked in, and agreed... While we weren't keen to be getting back on a bus any time soon, all of that hell had been worth it to be in one of the most beautiful places we've been so far.

With the mountain air reigniting some of our recently lost spark, we snarfed some dinner/breakfast/lunch, and headed into our room to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Lots of love,
S & Z