Day 6 Our escape from Manali and onto Shimla

Rise and shine competitors! Alarms were set for 4 am; all cars departed in a caravan at 5 am. What's happening?

The organizers determined that only way to break out of our location in Manali was across a very, very narrow suspension bridge 25 km downriver. The bridge could handle one car at a time and the locals were also using this means to get out of the blockade caused by landslides and downed bridges. One of our officials saw a line of over 200 cars waiting to by one. In order to avoid this long wait to get onto the bridge, we timed our departure to get to the bridge at daybreak. The plan worked well. There were only a couple of cars ahead us so we began the process of getting our cars across the river. Some husband/wife crews did not drive across together; men sent their wives over on foot so that both would not be killed if something were to go really wrong on the crossing. The small sports cars like our little Porsche had no trouble with the narrow width of the bridge; not so the larger cars like the pre-war Bentleys and the widest car in the caravan......a 1956 Chevy coupe (for the record -- my wife Ilene's first car when she moved to California in the early 1960's).


In the end of the day, we all made it and were greeted by John Spillar, the Rally Master, with the words: "Welcome to the West Bank." I chuckled a bit.

Off we went to Shimla, our day's destination. The next 2-3 hour drive was beautiful. Pine forests; waterfalls and monkeys everywhere. The last couple of hours of the drive was tough.....very bad roads (many damaged in the latest storms) and buses and trucks clogging those bad roads.

We finally arrived at the Oberon Cecil Hotel in Shimla. The hotel was built 137 years ago during the British Raj.....and the place reeks British. Just close your eyes and picture a group of proper English ladies having afternoon tea in the first floor Lounge, or a group of gentlemen having a gin & tonic before dinner in the Salon. You get it, this place is lovely.....or I dare say, British Colonialism at its best.

Tomorrow we need to look after the car and explore the outdoor mall.