At 2500m elevation there exists a town that services all your Himalayan adventuring needs. We stayed at the charming Apple View Guesthouse tucked back on a cliff in Old Manali. Our room had two big windows with views of the snow capped mountains and the turquoise alpine river. From the roof we did yoga with a 360• view of the valley that hugged us. We spent our days walking in town, in parks, and up mountains and waterfalls, all the while eating delicious food such as Yak cheese and hot chocolate which was made from a melted pure dark chocolate. The temperature here is pleasantly cooler, but at the cost of rain threatening to sneak attack.
Twice we encountered unwanted downpours and fully experienced the Indian hospitality expression 'Anything is possible.' We had heard the phrase many times and mostly delighted in using it to order food not on the menu or to get things for the price we want. Back in Rishikesh we met one Indian who was high on the expression and perhaps something else. When we came to his shop he sung this song:
"I am Mr. Fantastic
Anything is possible
I am Mr. Fantastic"
Sure enough he procured for us two obscure items without hesitation, laundary soap and cold Mars bars.
Back in Manali, the rain attempted to sabotage our waterfall hike. Sure, we were already damp from the mist of the powerful falls, and sure we were both from rainy Vancouver, but India had us accustomed to dry warm weather and we wanted a place to dry off and wait out the rain. To our delight we noticed an inconspicuous shelter at the base of the falls. Covered in a blue tarp was a low stone walled hut selling chai. We sat in the owner's bed at the back of the shelter and snuggled up with two Israeli travelers next to the open fire which was heating our chai. When the rain stopped we continued our walk no worse for wear.
On another evening in Manali, we invited some friends over to our scenic guesthouse for drinks and snacks on the roof. Once again the weather had other plans and dropped buckets of rain on the possibility of an outdoor party. When our tummies started to grumble late at night we were left to search for food. Wrapping ourselves in all the waterproof material we could find, we braved the elements. Fortunately, we only made it a little ways when Jen suggested that we follow the muffled sound of music.
The music was coming from a makeshift tent in the corner of an unlit outdoor patio of a hotel. The tables were all leaned against the chairs, a sure sign they were closed, but when we opened the gate we quickly found a staff ready to make us food. There was one dry table under a tarp; however, when we pulled the chairs back we discovered they were wet. The Brazilian, Luis, casually mentioned to our group that it would be fantastic if we could find a cozy warm place with a washroom. Sure enough, when our host reappeared he offered us the presidential suite to keep warm.
So we shed our shoes and a layer of wet clothes and crawled, all five of us, into the king size bed of the suite. We sat in a circle with the heavy red silk duvet trapping in our communal heat. In hope for a successful meal we all ordered shakshuka and laughed ourselves silly at our riduiculous appearance as we waited for our meal. Delicious tea came, followed by food, with no shortcuts. And so it is, in the middle of the night in pouring rain, in India you can walk into a closed establishment and get top service where anything is possible.