October 20th - Shimla to Ananda

We have two more days driving in the Himalayas and if they are anywhere near as good as the hundreds of kilometres we have already driven through the mountains we will both be very satisfied customers!

Yesterday our route book told us that today there was no fuel for the first 106 kms. I thought we had sufficient fuel to reach the first petrol station, but within 10 kms of leaving the hotel the fuel warning light came on. As I have two fuel tanks the gauge no longer reads accurately and so I cannot be absolutely certain how much fuel is remaining in the tanks. The drive took us through magnificently wild country with narrow twisting roads of tarmac and gravel and deep valleys and virtually no other traffic apart from the occasional farm vehicle.

We drove high above a river with huge drops down into the valley below.

The driving was very slow and the longer the journey went on the more concerned I became about our fuel. I then came up behind one of the Crew Cars, CC3, with Mike Johnson and Pat Griffiths, when they had stopped by a group of school children and their teachers. Mike asked them to stand in front of our cars so that we could take a group photo of them and us.

I then told Mike about my shortage of fuel and he kindly offered to stay behind us and, if necessary, tow me to the next garage. As it turned out we reached the garage with a few litres of diesel in the tank. In future I will make sure I do not run the tank so empty. Towards then end of the really mountainous terrain we crossed yet another beautiful river.

The drive continued through lush green and, increasingly tropical, vegetation. The roads were free from trucks, which made driving a real pleasure. Shimla is at an altitude of over 8,000 feet, now we were down to not much more than 3,000 feet and the traffic started to increase. Once again we saw how dangerous Indian roads can be. A motor cyclist hit a tuk-tuk in front of me, fell off the motorbike and slid across the road to end up near my front wheel. Amazingly he managed to stagger to his feet, but his bike was badly damaged.

Not long after we passed Rishikesh, the town made famous by the Beatles when they came to India in the late 60's. Our drive then took us back up into the hills to our hotel, Ananda in the Himalayas, where we arrived at about 3 pm. The front of the Ananda in the Himalayas Hotel.

Tonight we are all staying up late to watch England play in the final of the Rugby World Cup. James Walker, one of the HERO team has arranged with the hotel for them to have a big screen TV set up so that we all can watch the match. Thank you James.

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