The last few days at McLeod Ganj were good fun. An Italian chap called Stefano had moved into the next room and we hit it off quite well and talked for hours. We visited the Lung Ta Japanese restaurant for lunch and took a short hike to St John’s in the Wilderness church. Stefano is a good photographer and shared some great pictures from his trip. On the Sunday Stefano set off for Amritsar. I packed up and left early the next day. In the process of loading my bike some git (and I think I know who) stole my binoculars. Nice. This happened whilst I was paying my hotel bill. The hotel owner gave me some seeds in a small packet to carry and which he said would protect me from danger on the roads.
It was a bloody hot day. The region was experiencing a record breaking heat wave. I rode down towards the plains and turned onto highway 17 east. The road bobbed up and down through the foothills. Occasionally it was through pine forests but consistently it was hard work up through arid rocky ground. I passed Palampur and then the shrine or mandir at Baijnath. The heat of the day got to me. The temperature was in the 40s. I was well hydrated. No amount of stopping helped. My heart pounded on the slightest exertion and started playing jungle rhythms. I realised that it would no longer be wise to cycle during the main part of the day. By late afternoon I found a scruffy hotel just past the turning to Billing and called it a day.
As has happened on so many occasions with main road hotels I was the only guest. The hotel was made from concrete, barely finished and the room was filthy. I recall reading a little about the Tibetan settlement at Bir so I set off uphill to see what that was all about and see if I could get something half decent for dinner.