We woke up feeling great. How nice it was to not rush to catch the bus since the bus stand was in front of us! We didn’t feel like having breakfast, so we got ready, had chai and got out like eager beavers.
Then my friend, balance happens. No buses were moving, none. There were discussions between the bus drivers and conductors, what was happening?
Finally we came to know there was a landslide 10-12 kms away from the town so there was a roadblock and clearing the debris would take time. Nothing would move indefinitely.
Honestly we weren’t disappointed, right from the beginning we tuned ourselves to the fact that we will make do with what comes. We were definitely not on a mission to ‘checklist’ destination points. Our trekking experience taught us to enjoy the journey, anything was ok. So what if we didn’t go today, maybe Kalpa was written in our destiny? Anything was possible.
It was almost 11 am and Bhim went inside the bus canteen to see if he could to talk to someone about this situation, to check for alternatives. Now you must remember Bhim is a proper kannadiga from Bangalore. He never learned to read and write Hindi, yet he could speak the language quite well but his sentences were halting from speaking continuously although I must say by the time this journey ended, his Hindi went up ten notches! 😁
But at that time he came out and told me there was a father and daughter sitting in the canteen, he tried to make a conversation and wanted to ask their travel options but his Hindi was faltering, could I go in and chat with them? So off we went and sat in the canteen. And I giggled when I saw them. I told Bhim, no way were they father and daughter, men and their observations I tell you😁
I started chatting with them and they were in the same dilemma as we were. So seizing the chance I asked them, if the road clears could we take a taxi together, that way sharing the cost would be cheaper, even stay options could be shared. They agreed to it and he started calling some numbers but all were expensive even on sharing basis.
Meanwhile we got to know them better at least we thought so at that time! The lady was from Calcutta, a Bengali and the man was from the North and moved to Simla a few years ago, fluent in Bengali and seemed like some Swami with his orange shirt and Rudraksha Beads Mala sans a beard. He was speaking in ‘Shudh’(pure) Hindi. They were friends. Their bags necessarily didn’t look like they were backpacking and there were lots of them. And he was carrying ten days worth of food and rations for situations like this.
He mentioned that recently he had come back from Gaumakh- Tapovan – the source of the holy river Ganga and he stayed in a cave for days. We were like Wow! It would be nice to hear some interesting stories from him.
We mentioned the 650 year old Mummy of a monk in Gue Temple to them. This was thanks to my friend Bunny who had been there and told me to check it out, it was worth it. The Swamiji as I will start referring to him like that was intrigued, he wanted to join in with us while the lady wanted to stop at Nako village, this was a place before Tabo and came in most tourists list of places to visit in Spiti because of a lake and monastery.
It was almost noon till we saw the energy changing, there was a hustle and bustle about it. Some buses seemed to be moving. We had anyways kept our backpacks in the bus to Tabo. So we were delighted to see the driver and conductor get in. And along with them was a group of ITBP- Indo Tibet Border police force getting into the bus. It felt good to see the men in uniform with us in the bus. One among them was the most charming and had the loveliest smile of all. He shook hands with Bhim and gave a big friendly smile to me.
The deal was this now, the bus would go till the landslide. If it cleared it would continue otherwise the conductor would call for a bus from the other side and we would move into that. Bhim spoke to the conductor and he along with the ITBP guys suggested we get down at ‘Hurling’. We were like huh?? Where is that??
They said that if we wanted to see Gue temple it was best to stay over at Hurling, ask the locals in the village to take us to the temple, it would be way cheaper. And the next afternoon, a bus would come from Reckong Peo and we could go to Tabo.This was amazing! We didn’t even imagine we would stay in a completely different place! Bhim and I were smiling big, this was a wonderful detour stop and we were not following any of the route plan so far. Needless to say Swamiji and his irked friend took a ticket to Hurling too.😊
But the first hurdle was the landslide, we knew we were slowly entering towards Spiti valley, the lush greenery was now alternating with barren landscapes in and out. Then we stopped near the landslide. All vehicles stopped, cars to bikes to everything it was almost 2 kms long but our driver swerved, turned and came as near as possible to the landslide.
Removing the debris was going to take at least 3 hours, it was getting late. After waiting for an hour, our conductor, a true Hero displayed an incredible feat. He was continuously calling for a bus from the other side. He told us all to take out our backpacks cross over the landslide and keep walking till we reached the incoming bus, he will come with us.
I have to tell you why this is so important.The bus driver told him to leave us there near the landslide, give us the other driver number and go back to Reckong Peo, he was going back but our man refused, he kept calling for a bus and was with us throughout. Need I say anything more?
It was a spectacle as all the people with their cars, bikers with their bikes watched us open mouthed, we started climbing over the landslide with our backpacks. It was pure adrenaline rush as the small rocks were falling all over the place, covered in dust we descended down! We were on the other side and looked back at the people stuck there.
We were walking with the conductor, the ITBP guys joined us too, and there it was, the bus!! Turning around so narrowly in that one small road above 10,000 feet.
To be continued 😊