After a heavy night of partying last night and passing out in the bus (I have no clue how I boarded the bus) I woke up with the conductor calling "Mandi.. Mandi.. Mandi". I was struggling to open my mind and getting my head straight when the bus came to halt and a fellow passenger was getting down, it was after seeing mountains all around me I realised that I had made it.
I remember the guy at the hostel I was supposed to stay in telling me that I have to get down at Aut tunnel so I went ahead to the conductor and asked him about the same, after frowning his face as if I've done something gravely bad to him he told me to sit back and wait for the call.
I went back to my seat and indulged myself into what I love doing the best, watching out of moving the bus. Since I've been on this route several times before on my way to Manali and Leh I know a lot of places which make me nostalgic. I even had break up once on this road on my way back to Delhi from Leh. The reason was that I was out of network for almost 10 days and couldn't give her enough time. Haha anyways while I was lost in my past the conductor told me that Aut tunnel is approaching.
From what I could see it was sunny outside and I had come from Delhi where it was full-blown summer, I was wearing just a t-shirt. To my surprise as I got down of the temperature-controlled bus I realised that the winter is not yet over here in the mountains.
I had been to Banjar before so I knew I had to wait for a local bus till Banjar and from there I could get one for Jibhi. But as I was waiting for the bus one van stopped by and asked "Kidhar jaana h bhaiji?" (where are you headed) I told him I was waiting for a bus to Jibhi he offered me a ride till Jibhi as he was headed there himself. Maybe the mountain gods were blessing me.
The guy was a local transporting medicine to Jibhi which he got from Mandi, the sweet chap was very kind and gentle and played some local Himachali songs. It was a perfect setup, good Himachali music, good roads, beautiful mountains staring at you from everywhere, the river flowing along with you everywhere. You can't help but relax, all your weariness and tiredness will start wearing off as you venture into this narrow yet beautiful valley of Banjar. As was still early morning the villages in our way had just started their typical day in the mountains. Kids were walking to their schools, sheep herds were clogging our way on their way to grazing, smoke clouds coming out of the kitchens of traditional houses.
I had deliberately planned this trip on weekdays as I was looking for a chilled, no crowd, less traffic and peaceful getaway and this ride till Jibhi was everything in accordance with my plan. I reached Jibhi around noon and walked alongside a beautiful river to reach my stay The Mudhouse hostel which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. A small peaceful property with nothing much around. Sun was out and basking seems like the best thing to do, I walked around the property. So the property has a stream flowing right in its back yard where you can sit on the rocks on the banks and have your meal while listening to the river singing in its full glory.
I did nothing much but met a few fellow travellers and chilled around in their café the entire day.