On the road from Chandigarh to Shimla there is one stretch, about 5 km long, where the traffic simply doesn’t move. In situations like these it’s great to be on a motorbike because you can weave in between the cars, trucks and busses and be on your way. In Delhi I learnt how to weave like a pro but I realized that I might have become a little ambitious in my weaving when, on this particular stretch of road, I lightly bumped into the backside of a bus. This bus was standing still and I was hardly moving but the bike fell over, with me on top of it. I managed to get up with my dignity/ego not too damaged and in the process stepping in some holy cow dung (the smell accompanied me all the way to Shimla). The fall also claimed my clutch handle. It just snapped off. Luckily, in India you can’t swing a cat without hitting a bike wallah and I was soon on my way with a new handle.
The road to Shimla, especially on a bike makes it feel like you are ascending into Heaven. The further North I get the cooler the air and forests, meadows and mountain ranges complete the divine-ness. After the heat in Delhi it was pure bliss to feel the ice-infused wind on my face. Soon I’ll be seeing the Himalayas covered in snow.
By late afternoon I made it to Shimla but getting booked into my hostel was a mission of another kind. No vehicles are allowed in the city itself and you need to park right at the bottom and walk up to where you want to be. Most hotels and restaurants are right at the top (as was mine) and I soon understood why I had so many porters offer their service to me when I first arrived. I’d declined all the porter-offers and was now carrying my back-pack up a steep winding hill 3km long. Suddenly there were no porters in sight. The walk up to my hostel was the most exhausting thing I had ever done and I nearly collapsed when I finally made it to the steps of the YMCA.
The next morning I woke up sore and filled with great respect for these porters, who carry extreme loads up and down, all day long, for only a few rupees.
Like I said, Shimla was Shangrila and I decided to spend a long as I wanted and everyone knows; it’s fun to stay at the YMCA.