Mussoorie: Brighton On Himalayas

Donkey rides, endless lines of toy and souvenir stores an aquarium and air pistol games in the street: despite being perched on a ledge at 2000 metres, Mussoorie is surprisingly similar to an English seaside town, with a holiday atmosphere and plenty of throwaway things to do. After 11 days in Rishikesh it was about time we moved on, and a couple of kilometres of narrow mountainside well out of the heat is a good place to escape it all for a while.

Everything has changed dramatically since I last wrote, though. Helena’s been consistently ill, and doing her thesis out here is just not working out in terms of both finding good libraries and fast internet to research and in terms of being healthy enough to do the work. We’ve had to make a big decision, and she’s decided to go home. I’ve found it pretty hard to decide what to do myself, as travelling along (though it can be amazing) produces deep lows as well as highs, and I know I’ll miss Helena like crazy. It’s been a tough decision to make, but I’m staying and Helena’s going, as the prospect of sitting back in Ireland doing not a lot for the next few months is a hard one for me to take. I’ll be treating it like a writing research trip, making a lot of notes and (hopefully) coming back with some good travel articles. I’m planning to head back to Ireland in August, as more than a couple of months apart is too much to take. I know it doesn’t really need to be said, but just to be clear, Helena and I are as strong as we’ve ever been, we’re just trying to be grown up about our different needs for the next couple of months, and make sure we both get the best of things.

This trip, in truth, has been extremely difficult throughout. We’ve managed to catch pretty much the worst India has to offer consistently, with incredible temperatures, food poisoning, terrible transport experiences, some very rude locals, money problems (Barclays seem to have forgotten my two different times informing them I’ll be using my card in India, and it keeps being rejected) and a wide selection of attempted scams (most of which we’ve managed to avoid). If for nothing else than an extremely nice hotel owner and a doctor who treated Helena very nicely this morning, Mussoorie’s been a nice change. I’m surprised, as this experience has been tinged with so many more negative vibes than the last time I was out here; I really hope my luck changes once I’m on my own and have no one to cheer me up when things go bad.

Anyway, there are three possible plans for me for the next couple of months. Summary below:

PLAN A (most likely) – Delhi – Patna – Calcutta – Darjeeling – (into Nepal) – Kathmandu – (hiking) – (into Tibet) – Lhasa – (go East) – (into Viet Nam) – Ho Chi Minh City – (fly home).

Plan A’s main benefits are hiking in Nepal (supposed to be sensational), achieving a lifetime ambition and getting to see Lhasa and finishing up in Viet Nam to (potentially) spend a bit of time with Mark. But it does have a major potential problem: will the Chinese give me a visa into Tibet? If not it’ll be…

PLAN B – as above, as far as the hiking. Then back to India, and down the West coast before flying out of Mumbai. (Never been to the West coast!).

PLAN C (possibly alternative if political tensions in Pakistan and Iran ease) – heading home overland. Looking very unlikely.

Knowing what travelling is like, I’ll probably end up doing none of them, but these are the basic ideas. Anyway, that’s enough very dramatic changes for now! I’ll write more about Mussoorie later.

Love James x

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