If someone were to ever write a book chronicling my adventures in India, this would be the chapter on Manali (a resort town in northern India):
Kent was surprised by Manali. He thought it would be a mountain town similar to Mcleod-Ganj. Later, he found out that the town was already at 2000 metres, which is the same as the other hill stations he had been to. The town itself doesn't have much to offer, Kent observed. Full of resorts, an endless number of tourists, and the ubiquitous odour that is diesel exhaust. Combined, these make for an unpleasant experience.
That was until a journey to 4000 metres was conjured up. Our adventurer had never been that high before, or at least as far as his memory served him. Nonetheless, this was something that needed to be done. Clean, albeit thin, air was the order of the day.
A jeep was needed for the 52 km journey to Rohtang pass - the 4000 metre pass that dwarfs anything Canada has to offer. "He used to think that the Salmo-Creston pass was high...not anymore."
The jeep wove its way up mountain after mountain, avoided oncoming buses, and skirted its way across parts of the road that had been washed out. Kent was surprised at how many streams just went across the road. "It's only a matter of time before something bad happens," remarked one of the trainees.
The air was getting thinner, heads lighter, and breathing deeper as they made their way up to 13,000 feet. At the top, there was the usual bustle of activity that comes with a tourist spot in India - food and drink stands, horse rides, etc. Unimpressed, Kent took off to find what he was really looking for...the Himalayas.
As he stood in front of the most impenetrable natural fortress in the world, he could not help but remember the people that had crossed this frontier to escape persecution. He is talking, of course, about the Tibetan people escaping Chinese brutality. Then it all became clear. Any problems or complaints Kent had were as trivial as deciding which tie to wear because there were people out there that had to cross this seemingly impossible mountain range in order to gain a fraction of the freedom he had. Then he thought, "Could I have done that? Could any of the people I know have done that?" The answer was an overwhelming "No."
"So what is the point of complaining? Who cares if you were stuck in traffic or the food didn't taste good?" A great remark from one of the trainees. And no doubt true in every sense of the word.
Our adventurer had been noticing the abundancy of flat rocks and had decided that he was going to build an inukshuk. And there he was, standing at 13,000 ft in a country on the other side of the world, building an inukshuk. Albeit small, a sense of patriotism came over Kent like never before - even more so than when Donovan Bailey won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It would be an understatement to say that Kent could've stayed up there for days - it was just that relaxing.