How do I approach a Himachali girl

Holy cows and GoGo girls

Travel time: January - July 2004 | by Ralf Knochner

himachal pradesh: the first two weeks in himachal pradesh

on to the himachal pradesh region.

poenta sahib, i will not miss you .... even if this street sucks now. at some point that will pass and I'll drive through lonely mountain roads again. villages that are the size of delhi on my map turn out to be a collection of corrugated iron sheds. at noon, when i'm already on the road for five hours, i finally come to the small village that i wanted to reach from chakrota - thank you dear indian army. The landscape here is also becoming more and more impressive and would probably be a completely nature reserve in Germany. the road meanders along a river through a valley. Here, too, the people greet them in a friendly manner or look surprised. I'm a little afraid of failing at a barrier again, but this time it works so far. i reach rohru, a starting point for hikes and rafting tours. after tough negotiations, i lounge in a luxury room with a color tv and a warm shower. there is a computer school next door and after the good experience in joshimat, i'm trying my luck here too. yes, it works and he doesn't even want money for it. Unfortunately, the internet connection doesn't work, but everyone here obviously thinks I'm the computer expert personally. I am asked to do my best and after an hour I have it there. As a thank you, the young owner offers me to accompany him to his apartment and have a little fun. ohhh no, not again ...... do I look really gay just because I'm traveling alone ?! I decline with thanks and flee to my room. the reward is leonardo di caprio and tom hanks in "catch me if you can". so what .....

sarahan - the bhimakali temple and not the nazi headquarters.

i cross the next mountain range and this is where i notice the change in the architectural style for the first time. the houses have pointed roofs and a wooden terrace is built around a brick house. as i drive down from the mountains to rampur, it gets noticeably warmer, even really hot. rampur is located on the so-called shimla highway at an altitude of 350 m, so nothing for long. here the street also deserves the name highway and on one side of the street apricots and other fruit are grown, while on the other side the sutley river eats its way through the gorge. both internet sites in the town don't work and after a short fruit lunch i drive on to sarahan at well over 2000 m. i get a room in the temple guest house, that is, in the temple's own hotel. sarahan is actually only known for this temple - the bhimakali temple - a showpiece made of wood. From my very good and very cheap room, I can look exactly at the temple entrance and thus become a witness of the lived faith. But what I particularly like about this temple is the relaxed atmosphere. when a school class arrives the next day and the dormitories are occupied, things get turbulent. in the temple courtyard the girls dance a folk dance while the boys play soccer with a plastic bottle. bengali families visit the temple by the dozen, then chat in the tempelhof and i play volleyball with a few boys. the evenings are quiet, the people incredibly friendly and the food incredibly cheap. i get to know a couple of israelis again and as always i feel more drawn to the older semesters ... my age.

the road to sangla.

as beautiful as sarahan is, there really isn't anything to do. That might sound a little stupid now, when is something to be done on vacation, but there are places where you can get to know the right people, day trips are possible or, in short, everything is just right. pushkar and mt. abu were such places, kasar devi too, sadly not sarahan. the next town on the usual tourist tour in this part of the country is sangla at 2800 m. According to the travel guide, the journey should be hair-raising because the road is literally carved out of the rock. and in fact, that is really spectacular. if something happens to me here it's not funny, but somehow it always works, especially when you consider that normal buses also use this street. according to the travel guide, the sangla valley should also be one of the most beautiful valleys in india and i cannot contradict that. A river rushes through the middle, apple trees bloom in the plains and snow-covered peaks around them. Unfortunately, these prospects don't make a road safer, but I like to stop for that. When I arrive in Sangla, I'm a little disappointed. one big main street with five hotels and five restaurants with almost the same name. hmmmm, I imagined it differently. how well i'm mobile ..... i drive straight up the mountains to chitkul at 3450 m. the road is currently being built .... praised is the major road construction program of the (meanwhile former) indian government. It only becomes difficult in the places where you have to drive through knee-deep water. once i take off my shoes and stockings, take the small backpack with the valuables and the helmet to the other side, go back and then ride the motorcycle. gentlemen .... that's cold.

my view in chitkul.

chitkul is beautiful. the compact and small village nestles against a mountain slope. many houses are still made of wood and built in a very traditional way. a small river flows through the middle. there is a small mill, a beautiful wooden temple and even a first restaurant, the "sangla valley indian coffee house". the name is of course an exaggeration, but the food is good. Unfortunately, two huge loudspeakers are blaring in front of the restaurant. but that's the way it is in india, consideration is a foreign word and apart from us westerners it doesn't bother anyone, no matter how quiet the place and the rest of the area can be. on the very first day i spot a couple of men playing on the roof of my hotel. at first i thought they were playing cards, but no it was carrom. i love the game. later i have the opportunity to play against the village champion. I knew that I was going to lose, but equal to that high. not a single point in four games ..... that's bitter. I will probably have to practice a little more.
later i sat on the roof and froze a little at the overwhelming view. i let my thoughts wander and remembered my acquaintances on this trip. would be nice if I would meet someone again ....... said done, who's around the corner ...... itai and aya. you were in sangla for a couple of days and tell of a beautiful village below this main road. well, you can't see everything. you live in a family guest house in the village and i will accompany you there. mainly made of wood, it exudes a very cozy atmosphere and that's why i spend the cold evenings there with you and the other guests. When you move on after two days, I move into your room. glass windows on three sides with an amazing view, a large wooden bed and through a window you can climb onto the wooden roof that serves as a veranda.
the time in chitkul is characterized by short hikes, which come to an abrupt end in the direction of the highest peaks, because the tibetan border is only 40 km away. a military post stops all hikers. as soon as the sun is gone, it gets bitterly cold and that is the real reason to leave chitkul and the sanglatal after three nights.

view from the terrace in kalpa on the kinnaur kailash.

I now urgently need a place where I can stay a little longer, where everything fits again. maybe kalpa, which is at 3000 m, is a little warmer and the view should also be nice. on the day of departure from chitkul a little thunderstorm is brewing and just as i am arriving in kalpa the first rain is falling. that is a little uncomfortable, but it is even more uncomfortable that all hotels are completely full. There are some holidays in bengal, so half of kalkutta goes to the mountains. In the family guest house of all places that I chose from the travel guide, there is still one room free. The family seems nice, the room is good and soon there will be something available on the first floor, where the super rooms with a wonderful view are. meanwhile itai and aya have also arrived. i help with the room search and with my motorcycle we drive up the luggage. there is an austrian couple on half way around the world, a german couple (the ones who left me the mirror) and with me yoram, an israeli whom i met not only in sarahan, but also in chitkul. what else can I say .... six nights speak for themselves. i'm writing this report on the family's son's computer, the daughter speaks great english, with yoram i go on short trips and explore the area. In the evening the guests sit on the terrace and chat, candles are burning in my room, a window is as big as the double bed elsewhere, every day I eat at least one mango (at 80 cents for a kilo, I can still do that for a while perform) and for a change my music is blaring out of the speakers. soooo ..... this is vacation. the feeling actually arises very seldom, because india is not an easy country to travel to. many imagine that you have great food every day, that you travel comfortably, that everything is taken from you and that you live in luxury, so to speak. this is "unfortunately" not the case at all. India has to be worked hard, day after day. But that's exactly what makes it so interesting and educational, and that's why a lot of people, like me, keep coming back here. even if i almost hate the country and its people on hard and difficult days, most of the time i'm just fascinated and often enough the thought of settling down here creeps up on me. if i could buy land here i would have done it ten times on this trip.
Leaving kalpa is really difficult, but i want to be in manali in mid-june, because from there - and now i'll reveal a little secret - i will drive to leh in ladakh, over one of the highest passable passes in the world. the journey to manali takes you along the old hindu-tibetan road into a landscape called spiti.

kalpa - the hike.

What's the matter?:
. : = On an Enfield Bullet through northern India: =. . The second part of the trip can be found in the section Southeast Asia / Laos under "Constant smiles and bombastic mood - the serial novel in Southeast Asia". So far the part about Laos is only finished, Cambodia is still to come.
Departure:January 2004
Duration:6 months
Destinations: India