So… a week ago we were on a beach in Goa now we’re in the foothills of the Himalayas, and it’s bloody freezing. After a rather chilly night in our hotel (you can see your own breath, our phones won’t charge because its too cold and all our toiletries are frozen) we headed out to see what Shimla had to offer.
The first thing that strikes you having been elsewhere in India is that it’s clean, really clean. The streets don’t stink of sewage, there’s no litter and smoking and spitting are illegal. The Indians chew this strange red tobacco called Paan and enjoy spitting it out violently resulting in red stained pavements everywhere – but not here, the place is spotless.
The town itself is a strange mix of cultures. Back in the day it was the summer retreat of the British ruling classes, and that really shows. Walking around you feel you’re in some strange dream in which Kendal, Mumbai and Lytham St Annes have been seamlessly meshed together. There are some very English looking pavilions and bandstands, and buildings, winding mountain streets full of sweetshops, and packed with bazaars selling Indian fabrics. You could get quite happily lost for a couple of days here which is exactly what we have done. No-one hassles you here, and everyone is really friendly. It’s the first place we’ve been so far where you feel like you can really drop your guard and it’s been lovely.
Getting a 10 hour night bus north through the mountains to Manali this evening. Hopefully for a bit of ski and board action…