Two weeks before my sister’s wedding in Norfolk, England, I was stranded in Kaza, on the edge of the Himalayas in Northern India. This was due to an unexpected snow fall blocking the road to the North, and a landslide having swept away the road to the South. Should you ever find yourself in the same predicament, here are some simple instructions to follow on how to escape on a limited budget:
1. The bus departs at 6am. All tickets for the first bus will be sold out immediately. So on the morning of departure accept any ticket, being sold by any person, priced at 100 Rupees or below to your first stop, Rekong Peo. Israeli travelers prove to be trustworthy vendors, no longer needing their tickets as they will likely be helicopter evacuated by their parents.
2. For this scenic drive roof seating comes recommended for adventurous travelers. However please hold on, watch for overhanging rocks and DO NOT take photos for fear of death.
3. Neither looking out the window or screaming is recommended or helpful when the bus is reversing on narrow mountain roads.
4. A lunch stop will take place around midday. The budget does not cater for lunch however so ration 1/2 cracker as energy will be required for the landslide crossing which will take place during shortly during midday heat, at an altitude of approximately 11,500ft.
5. The budget also does not ration for more than 1 litre of water.
6. On arrival at the landslide, take your position against the rock wall until firing has ceased. This to those in the know is called “blasting”. It is recommended to have friends in the know at this stage, for crucial information translations.
7. Once firing has ceased load all luggage onto your front and back so feet can’t be seen.
8. On arrival at the still sliding landslide proceed forward along the narrow precipice until bottleneck is reached. This way when rocks start falling again you can neither move forwards or backwards. At this point fill your pants and remove luggage.
9. Don’t worry about your luggage, someone who takes death lightly will deal with it. Concentrate on one foot in front of the other, leaning in away from the 400ft drop and staying alive. Caution: goats and sacks of potatoes will be passing from the opposite direction.
10. On successfully crossing the most dangerous road in your life, share a sip of precious water and a 1/2 a cracker amongst those that probably just saved your life.
11. Reload onto the waiting bus, and secure luggage to the roof. At this point we realise we would recommend NOT taking the backseat, or should we say catapult.
12. At approx 9pm the bus will stop for dinner. We recommend purchasing Mung Dahl (15R), coconut biscuits 50% extra free (10R) and water (15R).
13. On arrival at Rekong Peo, immediately purchase a ticket for the awaiting night bus to Shimla (200R) and reload your luggage on the roof.
14. Sweet dreams for your magical ride through the mountains of Himachel Pradesh. You may want to take a moment to appreciate the starry sky as your shoulder slowly swells.
15. Tissue paper is recommended for motion sick passengers as water is simply too scarce.
16. At approximately 10K outside Shimla you may experience a slightly overturned apple truck blocking the road. Remove your luggage from the roof, walk to the awaiting bus on the other side and reload luggage.
17. Realize this bus is not going to Shimla any time soon. Remove luggage and proceed to hitch to Shimla.
Please note for Health and Safety purposes thongs and socks will not be permitted on the landslide.