Nainital is a popular holiday destination for a lot of Indians coming from the larger cities to escape the heat. The journey here wasn't at all pleasant. I hopped on a bus that left Lucknow and traveled 3 to 4 hours over a very rocky dusty road. Some managed to sleep. I have no idea how. I found myself wondering when the bus was last serviced as it had more resemblance to a garbage bin than a bus.
After a bumpy few hours, I got off the bus in a large busy city and hired a jeep that would take us up the Himalayan mountain side. The journey up the mountain, even at night was absolutely beautiful. The whole way up I was thinking what it would be like to climb it on my bike. Certainly puts Arthur's seat to shame!
The temperature lowered as we climbed in altitude and it was certainly welcomed. By this stage I was completely over sweating through shirts as soon as I left my lodgings. Arriving in town was anti climactic. I fully expected a breathtaking view but what we hadn't taken in to account is how long it takes to climb to the top of the mountain. The day had escaped us and the town was quiet and blanketed in darkness. We somehow managed to find a 5 person room and convinced the owner to allow us to put a mattress on the floor for a sixth person.
In the morning our breath was certainly taken. A deep green lake surrounded by enormous mountains littered with holiday houses and statues of Shiva and ganesh. As we explored the many shops, cafes and the Tibetan markets I found my pockets becoming lighter as realized that I totally needed that picture of a teddy bear riding a camel attached to a rolled up cabbage and I couldn't leave that tee shirt with a slogan that made no sense in English. But in all honesty, there were some great things on offer and plenty of presents were purchased.
I sampled some momos. They are basically glorified Nepalese dumplings that can be served in a soup or as is. Pretty damn scrumptious, so I ordered 12. Completely satisfied with our momo feast we rode boats on the lake and took the cable car higher to get an even more outrageous view. At the top there is an opening which seems sort of like an amusement park. I fired a rifle at the shooting range and hit a few targets. The indian bloke looked pleased but maybe he was just surprised that I hit something with the wonky sight and misshapen barrel. It started raining so we ran all the way back to our place.
Our clothes were soaked through. I bought some beers, they rolled some cigarettes and we sat and played cards as our clothes dried. I was looking forward to kicking back at this little paradise in the sky.
Tip of the day - when eating 12 momos, remember to breathe between mouthfuls.