The Miyar valley is a lush green and wide valley north of Udaipur. The valley is low lying and pretty famous in the trekking circuit. The motorable road is mostly level and ends at the village Shikito. People normally begin their trek at Udaipur taking 5 days to reach the Miyar glacier, walking all the way along the Miyar nallah. The nallah is pretty wide and is more of a river if you ask me. For lazy people like us, the motorable road is just the boon required though. We managed to witness the beauty of the valley without having to take the challenge of a trek. We started early at 5:30 in the morning, having settled the dues with the caretaker at the guest house the night before. The road climbs northwards right in the middle of Udaipur town just after one crosses the nallah that divides the town (after if you are coming from Manali, before otherwise). It is a well marked tarred road initially, frequented by buses which ferry locals to and fro from Udaipur. To begin with, the climb is gentle and it is only after the first village that the entire valley unfolds in front of your eyes. A wide valley with all kinds of trees and plenty of agricultural land dotted with tiny hamlets is what awaits at Miyar. The valley is surrounded by peaks, many of which are white all throughout the year. And to make the picture perfect, a wide raging river (Miyar Nallah) runs through it. What made the already lovely morning even better was the sight of smoke billowing out of every house in the settlements we crossed. The track reminded us of the road between Sangla and Chitkul for some reason. It was like a walk in the park with domestic animals like horses and cows grazing here and there. Every villager we crossed was amused to see a Delhi number Safari plying on these village roads. These are parts seldom visited by tourists, barring few from the hiker community. They too are mostly westerners on their way to Zanskar. Yes, you read that right! From the point where the road ends, it is approximately a 4 day trek - 2 days up to Kang La and 2 days down to the Bardan monastery - to Zanskar. From the Bardan monastery, frequent jeeps ply to Padum, the very heart of Zanskar. But they say the trek is quite arduous, as one has to cross the Miyar glacier enroute. However, many say that the glacier is a destination by itself. We took a U-turn at the last village. The entire leg took us about 1.5 hours one way, and we were back in Udaipur around 9 am to enjoy a wonderful breakfast. A longish breakfast saw us leave Udaipur by 10 am towards Manali. The road till Tandi would be trod upon by us for the first time but beyond that the track had been measured by us umpteen times. We stopped at Tandi bridge for a brief moment, contemplating to run all the way to Leh, but our mind took over our heart and we chugged towards the refuelling station at Tandi. We were tempted yet again to do a cannonball run to Leh at the station when we saw two lamas in a Qualis on their way to Leh, but again rationale took over, and we resumed our journey to Manali. How I wish that I could be carefree enough one day to let my heart take over in such matters. We reached Koksar at about 3, just in time for a quick lunch of momos and mutton soup. We were about to leave when we met an old acquaintance, a smiling Himachali, who approached me and said hello. I too said hello being polite. He asked me if I remembered him. I was a bit embarrassed as I did not, but I still said a meek yes. I guess he understood, so he began explaining that we had given him and a bunch of his friends a lift from Bharatpur till Sarchu a couple of months back. He had recognized me or the car or Aarti or maybe all of us! We had a good laugh, after which he mentioned that he had just packed up his camp at Bharatpur because of early snowfall two days before. Fearing that he might be stuck if he shut shop any later, he had packed up and put up his equipment in a passing truck which was going to Manali. His village was a few kilometers after Manali off the Manali-Kullu road. His wife, daughter, a conductor, the driver and he himself were crunched in the cabin of the truck. He asked us if we could give a lift to his wife and daughter, mentioning that they were getting very tired in the packed truck. We, of course, agreed to his request, and the rest of the drive till Manali was spent chatting with the two women. It was quite an interesting chat and a long one at that till Manali, and we learned a lot about their life, livelihood and hardships. Of course, we too shared our lives and our hardships, if I can use the word hardships to describe our lifestyle that is. Before long we were standing at Manali, which now feels like a second home. Johnson’s lodge had already been booked for the next two nights. I freshened up quickly and spent the evening with Roberta. Aarti too tagged along. After all, who would miss out on an opportunity of eating at Il Forno when staying at Manali!