From Shimla to Haridwar is another one of those dreaded ten hour bus trips through the hills and mountains. Thus far I've opted for the early morning bus to tackle these killer rides, but this time the night bus seemed a reasonable good option. You can forget about getting a good night's sleep, but at least you don't 'waste' a day just sitting on a bus and you save some money by not staying in a hotel. Or so I figured.
Well, that didn't work out quite as I intended. It started with eating dinner at four pm, a time when no place really serves anything but snacks. Basically the only quasi-decent food that they served was Chop Suey. While generally eating vegetarian (health safety rather than ideological), this I time opted for the chicken version for something with at least nutritional value. Or so I figured.
Whether there was something wrong with the dish, whether it was just the fact that it was non-vegetarian or whether it was just random I don't know. What I do know is that I didn't feel that well before I got on the bus and that things started to get progressively worse as the crowded bus started to move, break, move, up the hill, down the other side, mixing sharp left hand curves with sharp right hand curves. Did I mention it was crowded?
For two hours I tried to convince myself things would get better and that every turn was a turn closer to Haridwar. Maybe the latter part was true, but the former definitely wasn't. Every turn that got me closer to Haridwar, also got me closer to throwing up. Luckily opening the window offered some relief, but it was pretty clear to me that - whatever the risks of getting off this bus in the middle of the night - this wasn't going to end well if I stayed on this bus. So at the next stop, with no idea where we were by now, I got out and just took my chances at the nearest hotel.
If this were a horror story, my situation would probably become more precarious, eventually resulting in a gruesome and untimely dead. Apart from the fact that - initially - there was no one present who spoke a word of English, this unknown hotel was not nearly as dangerous as those in Hollywood. It wasn't abandoned, there were no living dead, it wasn't even extremely expensive. It was however, thousand times better than staying in the bus.
Feeling a lot better, but not completely up to an eight hour trip on a overcrowded bus, taking a cab to Haridwar seemed like a sensible alternative. This time it worked out brilliantly. I was blessed with one of the best drivers I've seen, probably one of the best I'll ever have in India. He took the 'Be Gentle On My Curves' (a more humerous way of saying drive slow, these hairpin turns can be pretty dangerous) sign serious, honked when it was appropriate and he was even able to keep a steady pace without taking too many risks. Sure, the fare is ten times that of the bus, but in these circumstances and with this driver it was more than worth it.
All well, well ends, is that, or something like that. Apparently giving a ten rupee donation at temples helps you with your karma. They really should put that in the Lonely Planet.
Next up, Holy H*******!