Try to pronounce "Kya ap ko angrezi ati hai?". I can safely assure you that you were wrong. As were I, though, which came at an inconvenience as it translates to "do you speak English?". The language barrier has present itself in many conversations over the last three days, such as "can you please open the door so I can throw my friends sick bag out of the bus?", and "what do you mean you're charging us 600 rupees for my friend being sick on the bus?". Now, as I'm sat in a Manali internet cafe (hence speed blog!), the linguistic complications seem far less in a smaller, kinder village to the dark jungle of Delhi.
Monday morning began with an early start, waking up at 7.30 (that's early for me) to begin the build-up day to what would end up being a merge of days due to time difference, jet lag, and a certain event involving a friend on a bus, which I may or may not be hinting at. My bag was packed, my phone left in my room, and so I set off to begin the Lord of the Rings-esque adventure that had been laid out before me. After a grueling kit check from Tim and Rosie, and a lovely buffet from Pauline which I took full advantage of, we departed on the short bus ride to Manchester Airport, and made it through security checks without any major issues (thankyou once again to Tim who demonstrated first had why you shouldn't carry aerosols in your hand luggage. The first plane, which left Manchester for London Heathrow on monday afternoon was very small and claustrophobic. It had two seats either side of the plane, with an aisle down the middle and held no more people than a bus. Arriving at Terminal 2 an hour later, we had a small meeting to sort out the budget and financial schedule for the next few days, and soon found out why Heathrow is the biggest airport in the UK. Our transfer flight from London to Delhi departed from Terminal 3, so we had to take a 20 minute bus to get there. After some last minute shopping (mints and deoderant), and some last minute food (best bagel in the world), me and Jack went to join Tim, Rosie and everyone else where we left for our 10pm flight.
This is where I didn't write it down on paper and start making it up!
We arrived in Delhi at around 10am local time, which meant the whole sleep shift had been deleted from time and space itself. Besides the fact I couldn't get any sleep on the plane, due to too much family guy and games of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?', it meant that it was going to be a full days worth before I could do it again. Walking out of Delhi Airport was like being dropped on a different planet. A heatwave came like a blowtorch being held to your face, and the smells, sights, and stares of locals not recognising who you are was crazy. We changed the dollars needed to cover the budget for the first two days, and managed to catch a public bus to the building where we had to meet our World Challenge rep. We were dropped in the deep end, to say the least. My whole expectation of Delhi was different to what the real thing was, it reminded me of poorer parts of Spain or Thailand, and the building (which was eventually found after trudging through monsoon rain) was like a poorly kept block of flats. The weather was hot and humid, and the atmosphere dark, damp and melancholy. Redemption was found in the fact that outside the building where we were staying til our Manali bus arrived, there were about 20 monkeys swinging about in the street. The urge to take one and hide it in my bag as a personal pet left me after a small encounter with common sense. After stocking up on water, and a small trip for some food, we got on the bus to Manali. I was struggling to cope with the idea of a 13 hour bus journey, so you can imagine my reaction when I was told it was a 16/18 hour bus instead...
The lack of sleep had caught up with me, so I managed to grab the back row, included with complimentary Virgin Atlantic blanket and warm hoodie. Unforunately, however, it was a public coach, and the driver soon came over and told us that the seats were reserved and we were booked for all seats up to number 18. It was good while it lasted. We moved towards the front end of the coach and me and Jonny were planning ideas for accomodation, for when we arrived in Manali the next morning. The lack of sleep from the plane soon caught us up, and we nodded off for a while until we woke up when the driver came to a rest stop. A quick bite to eat later, we discovered that the seats on the bus reclined, which just about made up for the fact I'd had my cushty back row seat taken away from me. Life was perfect.
At exactly 1.30AM Jonny started nudging me awake. He mentioned that he'd done something, but I couldn't hear exactly what, then he told me again in the more universal language of vomiting profusely over my comfy hoody and complimentary blanket. Oh, and my leg. I stood up, and in quite calm fashion said "Oh, that's what you've done". Maybe "oh", wasn't the exact word I used, but I'm sure you can understand my spur of the moment linguistic choices. I woke Tim out of his deep slumber who soon came to help Jonny out. However, since he'd covered my seat with vomit, and now had to place on it a giant bag to accomodate his seat, that left me without mine. The coach was fully booked, which meant no spare spaces, so to prevent standing up the whole journey, I had to sit on the edge of somebody elses seat with my feet in the aisle. Having nothing to lean back on, it meant I had to go yet another night without a wink of sleep. It stayed this way until 4am, with Laura C managing to fill a fair few sick bags along the way, which I volunteered to throw out of the bus door, which the driver wasn't happy about. I told Jonny he could keep the blanket, and I had to take the hoody off. At 4am, the first and only person apart from everybody else got off the coach, and the driver told me that I could take the seat which he'd left, on the back half of the bus. Since we were booked with seats up to 18, that meant everybody behind that seat were non-english speaking. I sat myself next to some guy, who was asleep when the last man got off and was still asleep when I sat down, so you can imagine his shock when he woke up. With the cold morning, and all the windows open and air conditioning on at the back of the bus, oh and the lack of complimentary blanket and cushty hoodie, I was freezing. The chance of sleep had just disappeared, and was never coming back. Just to let you know, Jonny's now fine, and I've promised him that after I publish this blog I'll never once again mention the fact that he vomited all over me on an 18 hour bus ride (not that I'm taking it personally). We got to Manali very early, and took our bags up to a hotel where we met with the World Challenge reps for Manali. Since I was in charge of accomodation for the day, me, Jack (who says hello, and is sat next to me), Christina and Mark, who were all looking after the budget got a guided tour by Guthrie(?) around all the hotels in Manali so we could check the rooms out and book the team in for a few days. After seeing some pretty poor rooms, we managed to find a perfect quality, and perfectly priced hotel which I can't pronounce nor spell the name of to tell you, but trust me, it's very nice.
Sadly I'm running out of time, and Nikki said she's going to post a blog tomorrow about what happened today. Just to throw in though, two years ago in the summer I went to the Pyranees and met a guy called Dave from Barnsley who lived in the Himalaya's. He lived in caves, and was starting a business called "High Himalayan Adventures". He'd just started writing down trekking and climbing routes, and had just found himself a small office somewhere in India. Today, we went on an acclimatisation trek, which was meant to last two hours, but unfortunately we got lost and it ended up taking far many more hours than that. When we found ourselves in a small shanty town, there was a building in the street called "High Himalayan Adventures", with the man himself sat behind the desk. The biggest coincidence to ever happen. I don't know how I managed to bump into the one man I knew lived in the country, going through no effort whatsoever to find him but there you go. Seeyou!