May 2012 for us began with a vacation to Shimla-Kulu_Manali and it served as the most wanted break for me. The destination was finalized after a long debate between me, him, my friend and his friends. After lots of discussions on Bandipur, Ooty, Andaman Islands and Thailand, Shimla was finally destined to be our vacation spot this year.
The place was decided and the package was booked about a week before and the tickets were confirmed only in the last minute. To add to the confusion, it was Smruthi's school annual day on Saturday, Swathi had still not recovered completely from fever, my pending visa appointment, and we had to leave on Sunday. That gave me only one day to attend her school function, shop, pack and leave. I was still not confident of the trip until I actually boarded and the train started from the platform. But, yes, we made it, and gave a huge sigh of relief! Shimla - here we come! We were a gang of three couples and three kids,
and this added to the fun. The two days train journey to Delhi was nice, bringing back old memories of childhood travel, when my mom used to pack chappathi, puliogare and curd rice for the entire train journey. But, again, those were the days. The little girls thoroughly enjoyed the upper berths and was climbing up and down the berths. Finally Delhi arrived and we boarded the tempo traveller waiting for us in the station. The first thing I noticed on entering the cab was the photo of shirdi sai and I knew all was going to be well!
Day 1 - Travel from Delhi to Shimla. It was a loooonng journey and we reached shimla around 8 in the evening. The climate was a bit chilly, but cold enough to make Swathi's teeth chatter. Wrapped them in jackets, had dinner and slept.
Day 2 - Woke up to see the hilly tops and monkey-crowded neighbourhood. Started to photo-shoot my friends, while the rest of the family was still snoring. Later, had breakfast and we all left for Kufri, where the only means of transport to reach the hill-top was through ponies. The kids were excited about the idea of travelling on ponies (horses, to them) and were fighting over the colors of the horse on which each one would travel. The respective fathers, admired by their kids' bravery went ahead and collected tickets for the entire gang. When it was time to actually climb the ponies, all the three girls (mine two and the friend's daughter) screamed like hell, climbed onto me and stuck to me like glue. They completely refused and were in complete shock. Not wanting to force them, I decided to stay back and take care of the kids and the rest of the gang went ahead. So, this gave me time to take pictures of the kids like crazy.
Smruthi actually felt bad on making me stay back, that she asked me about a hundred times, if I actually wanted to ride in the pony. When I replied in the positive, she said that its ok for me not to go, and that I could ride a horse when she reached X std. No idea on why specifically X std. The pony-ride had actually turned out to be too adventurous, and the gang told me that the kids could not have made it, even if they had come. So, that was one relief. Went to the local market place in the evening, and did some 'light shopping' in the evening.
Day 3 - Pack the bags and drive to Manali from Shimla via Kullu. Went for white-water rafting in Kullu. After the previous day's experiences, the kids had decided that whatever we take them to, would be scary. So, the moment we got down in the river-bank, Swathi started pleading, 'Amma, please let's not go in the water...please....please...please..."
But persuaded her in letting me go for the rafting. While hubby took care of the kids for the first half of the journey, I enjoyed the rafting and he went in the second half. The guide was kind enough to take the kids for boating in the shallow places of the river near the end-point. Later, went for shopping and bought winter jackets and accessories for the kids. Tired by the time we reached hotel. Refreshed, and all the three families got together for chit-chat, had dinner and slept.
Day 4 - Rohtang Pass. Got up very early and reached the snow point. It was terribly cold and the climate was too much for the kids to handle. Though one half of them wanted to enjoy the snow, they could not bear the climate, and Swathi was literally chattering with her hands and legs all frozen inspite of all the gloves and jackets. Had to take her inside one of the tea stalls there and warmed her by making her sit near the gas stove. After the warm-up, both the girls had the time of their life, by playing in the snow and sledging. And what more, they even let me go skating in the snow.
Me and Sri dressed in the traditional Manali outfits and took snaps in the snow. The girls sort of made up for not letting me ride the pony the other day. Enjoy and let them enjoy policy. The second half of the day, we spent in Solang Valley - with Smruthi doing para-gliding, Swathi - horse-riding, the rope-car, bungee jumping. When given a choice between para-gliding and horse-riding, Smruthi chose to fly rather than get near the horse. With so much fun, the kids refused to get into the cab, inspite of the cold weather in the evening. After lot of persuasion, they got into the cab, and dozed off the next moment.
Day 5 - The D-Day. It was Swathi's birthday. The day began very late, with each set of grand-parents calling to wish and waking us up. The day went with the sister's bonding growing stronger with every passing minute. The day was full of ‘akka akka…’s and ‘ennada chellams’. We visited Hadimba Devi temple. The kids also tried bungee-jumping, and they enjoyed it.
Then, dressed the kids in the Manali outfits. Suited them well too. Next, we visited club-house, which had more of kids games. We then tried the rope-crossing or river-crossing, which was very thrilling. I tried it twice and it was all very exciting. All the while, the kids left us to ourselves, and took care of themselves, very well. When I was done with all the games, Swathi slept over. We reached the hotel in the evening, and went for dinner, to celebrate the darling’s birthday.
Day 7 – Packed the bags early and left for Delhi from Chandigarh. Reached Delhi around 2 PM only to realize that the return tickets were not confirmed yet. Cancelled the tickets and extended the trip for one more day – Delhi site-seeing. Did some wonderful shopping, all for myself in the Delhi markets.
Day 9 – Back to office while the kids blissfully snored in bed up to 9 in the morning. Back to the pavilion. End of story!!!
All in all, the trip was awesome and one of the best vacations we ever had. Hubby darling, thanks for finally giving me the vacation.