Heading into the Himalayas we briefly stopped in Manali before heading into the prettier village of Vashist. This village is renowned for it's hot springs as well as being on the gateway to the Keylong Pass.
For me this was more of an action place and over the next couple of the days I tried out many new things.
Firstly we hired a motorbike to head up the pass as far as we could go before the snow stopped us or the road closed. Although always wanting to I have never been on a motorbike, so it was with excitement and some fear when Mayank suggested we hired one. Riding on the back of one was amazing and it has certainly made me decide to learn. It was great to have freedom and not rely on public transport. We whizzed up the winding mountain paths, closer and closer the snow. The views were out of this world. So peaceful but also majestic and stunning. Soaring mountains, capped with snow, and waterfalls rushing down the side. We encountered a massive Indian road block (this is a big Indian tourist destination) with cars, vans and buses unable to go forward or back. After a twenty minute wait we were able to move forward, only to go around a few more bends to find the road closed.
We carried forward on foot as the snow was still quite far away. Everywhere we went we were asked if we wanted a pony ride to the top. Thinking we could manage alone we said no, until we realised why the road had been closed. The road was impenetrable with thick mud and running water. We therefore decided to take advantage of the ponies on offer. It took about three quarters of an hour to reach where the snow was and it was full of Indians sliding down the hills and making strange carvings in the snow. Quite an amazing site. Not able to go any further we headed back down the mountain to our bike, to enjoy the ride home.
After our first day adventure on the bike we decided to try paragliding. This was to take place at Solang Nullah, near a famous ski resort. Due to the prices it made sense for us to try a medium flight of 15 minutes, especially as we had not done this before. Arriving at the site we were told that the wind was too strong for this type of flight but to wait around and see if died down. We were asked to wait on what seemed like a pitch but full of different activities from horse riding to short flight paragliding to zorbing. Stupidly we decided after our lunch to try out zorbing. This is where you climb into an inflated ball, get strapped in and then roll down the hill. Not thinking about letting our lunch digest we bravely stepped forward. Firstly getting in is not so easy. You have to scramble through a tiny hole. As the zorb is made of plastic and with the sun beating down, I got stuck. Plus the plastic was pulling my jeans down the more and more I clambered in. After about 5 minutes attempting and much laughter on Mayank's part, I popped into the zorb. You were then strapped in, tightly. Very tightly. The ball then started moving. At first it was enjoyable but as the ball got faster and faster it seemed less funny. The sun was intense through the plastic, making it a sauna. I looked at Mayank to see if he was enjoying it- his face was screwed up tight, close to being sick. My last few minutes in the zorb was praying he wouldn't open his mouth and be sick over me!! Finally the ball came to a rest. Coming out was a lot easier. Overall it was fun, though Mayank will say different!!
Our paragliding instructor came over soon after and said that as the wind was not getting any less it would make more sense to do the short paraglide and refund us the difference. Tired of waiting we agreed. Climbing up the massive hill was not fun but the view made it worthwhile. Mayank went first and soon took off for a smooth ride. It was then my turn. I am petrified of walking downhill so being told that I would have to run down it to take off scared me even more. The instructor strapped himself behind me and I thought we would take off quite soon. But no we had to wait for the right wind and I started to get more and more nervous. Soon though I was being told to run downhill though with two boys pulling me down to get it right. Before I knew it we were in the air. The feel of it was smooth and light but most of all peaceful. It felt amazing to be gently floating above everything and being almost a part of nature. Landing was not a problem and it was one of the best things I have done. I would certainly do it again.
Monkey and Snoopy were with me but chickened out of both adventures. Wusses.