After breakfast we drove with a bus full of school children and other people the one hour down to the village on the main road to find a bus from there to Reckong Peo/Kalpa. There we wanted to stay for 2 nights and get the permit for Spiti. Our host suspected that there would be more people than usual, and there were. A bus was already waiting – and it was already too full. We decided to wait for the next one. But it was a long time coming. We stood around, walked around, stood around and talked. Then an Indian spoke to us in German: “Are you from Germany? Great astonishment on our faces. His name is Neeraj and he would work at VW in Pune and sometimes be in Germany, once for a longer time with a language course etc.. And then – tata tata! – Eva even knew one of his former colleagues. He also wanted to come our way and so we stood around together. And then we thought that we were 3 people and maybe a taxi would be an affordable idea? And besides, we had an Indian who could bargain!
And indeed he could, got a good price and we happily took a seat in a small car. Who could have guessed that we would all spend a long day together! We set off, there were many landslides to see and after maybe 10 km there was a traffic jam and we had to queue.
We were standing. And got some information: there was a heavy landslide here about 2 weeks ago – the first since our taxi driver started driving a taxi 12 years ago. They quickly tried to pave a road again, but the ground is not super firm and when it rains, it all gets much trickier. Anyway, only a few cars are let through at a time, preferably from the other side, so that people can get out again (it’s the only road from down to Spiti) and then the road rests again for a while. We couldn’t see anything, only wait. Poultry transport cars were waiting with us, they always emit a fierce stench from the chickens that are probably dying in the meantime.
Totally untypical for India, the vehicles did not mess up at all, but remained standing in lines. There was a checkpost where all vehicles with passengers were noted down. At some point we were able to drive forward a little. And then again. And then we saw the landslide. It was really huge and we felt a bit queasy.
It was getting later and later and our driver was getting nervous, as he also wanted to go home after this tour. We thought about a plan B, as it seemed to us that we might not make it that day anyway. There were still tens of cars ahead of us, including the bus we wanted to get on first. Neeraj had the idea of Jibhi as an alternative. I wanted to go there anyway. 140 km and theoretically 2.5 – 3 h. But that was really only theory. He negotiated with the taxi driver and was successful. We would never have been able to get such top prices ourselves. Besides, our stomachs were already in the back of our knees at 16:00, far and wide no dhaba in sight. So we turned back and drove down the Sutlej.
It had rained so much and so hard that there were massive road problems. You could drive all the road, but it was slower. Our driver was really very good, fully concentrated, he manoeuvred us towards our destination, while our bodies slowly started to groan because of the long bumpy sitting. We stopped at the 2nd Dhaba and got a good belly-filling meal.
And then we went through the night up the Jalori Pass at 3,000 m and down the other side. Neeraj turned out to be a very nice travel companion and so we were now a kind of small travel group. His stories and tips for Germany were funny. Besides living by the clock, not going at red lights and no honking on the road, it is very beneficial to talk logically. We had fantasies of werewolves and other creepiness as we bumped along alone through the dark often foggy night. And we – especially Eva – realised that travel planning just isn’t really in. It was now my third attempt to tackle the Spiti circuit from below – and failed again!
A little before 22:00 we actually arrived in Jibhi at our nice accommodation and sank exhausted into the soft beds. Where do we go from here? Let’s see….