Bir-Billing & McLeodganj: A Flying Adventure-Day 2

I had a very good sleep and woke up fresh. Such a great feeling especially when you are in a calm and lovely place like Bir. My pick up was scheduled at 9:30 am so I had some time before that. I got ready and took my bike to the landing spot again. To my amazement this place had turned 10 times more beautiful and pleasant than it was last evening. See for yourself




It was an experience in itself. There was hardly anyone at this place and no crowd or vehicles which means you could experience and enjoy the beauty unadulterated which is exactly what I did. Look at the green fields and the blue sky, they make you happy!




(Well..bad at selfies)
Spent some good 45 mins here before heading to look for a place to have breakfast. Most of the shops were still closed and I found this place called Hotel Surya Classic to eat breakfast. You can sit outside in the open area while keeping an eye on your bike..doesn't mean that its likely to be damaged or stolen on road.


By this time it was already 8:45am and I moved back to the guest house to prepare the action cam and check the settings for recording. After doing that came out and waited for the pick up to come while I fed some biscuits to the dog there. The pick up arrived before time and after I got in we moved to another 'Amar Guest house' to take some more guys. After seeing their bikes I realized these were the same guys I overtook while riding to Bir on day 1. There were some flight pilots sitting and I started talking to them. They told me that the season is just picking up and the rates are going to increase for the paragliding flights. I asked them about their certification details and they said no body operates without the training and certificate though it used to happen long back. They are all certified by HP Tourism. Meanwhile the other guys arrived and preferred to sit at the back in the open of the pick up truck. We began our climb to the take-off point, Billing.

It's about 16km from Bir and the narrow road is just curves and steep climb offering a beautiful view of the valley and the Dhauladhar range.


So here we were, at the take-off point. Some people were already there getting ready for their flight and I saw some pilots unfolding their parachutes from the huge bags they were carrying. There is only one tea shop at this point and no other amenities. I also suggest not to eat a heavy breakfast before the flight. Do not carry your DSLR at this point and you can keep your cellphone and wallet in your pockets during the flight (action cam in hand if you have one).  Also please do not ride to this take-off point and insist on the guys to pick you up from your place of stay.

The wind was good today perfect to fly, as the pilots told me. Without wasting further time we started getting ready



I was geared up by my flight pilot Rakesh and he gave me few basic instructions, most of important of which was to run as fast as I can. I guess this is to get the required thrust for the take off. As excited and thrilled as I was, Rakesh wasted no time and asked if I am ready and before I could say anything he started counting 3...2...1 and we both started running towards the cliff...and before I realized we had taken off! Enjoy the video:

video
(Please note that this is not the actual quality of the video but after editing in Movie Maker, read the complete review of the Xiaomi Yi action cam here and check sample pics & videos)

Somehow I get more excited than getting scared in doing things like this so the take-off for me was the best part this whole thing and of course the feeling of flying in the air like a bird is no less either. For a moment you are above the ground and get a life time experience. It's a must do for everyone once in their life and its not a very scary thing to do. The flight lasted for about 20 minutes and we landed at the landing site near the guest house. After landing my head felt a little buzzed and so I sat there itself for a while to readjust to the ground level because body undergoes altitude changes in a short time.

After that it was just 5 mins walk to the guest house and now it was time to check out and move to McLeodganj which is a 70km ride. Said goodbye to Tashi and the dogs and Tashi suggested I visit the Sherabling Monastery. As I had time I decided I can do that. So I continued riding on the road towards the landing site which will go through Sherabling and then continue to Baijnath.

Beautiful ride among the jungle and the trees surrounded by the prayer flags all over, will lead you to this board. Actually the road towards left in the picture goes towards the monastery and the right one towards Baijnath.
At the entrance you have to enter your details and you cannot take your car inside  although bike can go in. Honestly I did not find anything interesting here. Some part of it was under construction. This place was fairly empty but may be I visited on a wrong day.

I didn't stay here for long and came out to continue riding towards Baijnath. As you can see the distance is just close to 70km but it will take you around 2.5-3 hours considering the hill roads and curves which will slow you down. 
Stopped at the Palampur CCD again for refreshments. After that you will pass through Gopalpur and there is a zoo here you can visit if you are interested. Then you will pass through the tea gardens and will see people selling the green tea which is famous here. You can try and buy it here.


This was a smooth and easy ride until Dharamshala where the traffic starts, it being a popular place for religious reasons. After crossing Dharamshala as soon as I entered McLeodganj, I was welcomed by a terrible traffic jam of cars bottlenecked and trying to enter McLeod.

Fucked.

That's what I told myself. I completely forgot that the DALHI people will also throng the place to find a fix to their long weekend. I reached this traffucked McLeod at 3 and it took me about an hour reach the center of the town. It's amazing that there are some idiots who are able to drop their IQ in this traffic jam too by driving in wrong ride even in such a narrow road where there is a traffic jam already...all this just to save one second...ONE SECOND!

By this time I was hungry so before deciding anything, I decided to eat something first and the pastries looked delicious


Now I was able to think. This place was so crowded that could ruin anyone'e weekend. I was almost sad and angry at myself for coming here. Then I thought to move to Dharamkot which is 2km from Mcleod and was also advised by my friend to stay at. I also asked the pasty shop guy and he said there is hardly any crowd at Dharamkot. This gave me some relief. So I moved towards Dharamkot road which was also packed with cars but somewhat less. While you are on this road and after about 1.5km from Mcleod, you will see this board


So if you go towards 'Dharamkot Hotels' you will find tourist and family type hotels. I continued straight and reached a chowk where there is a tea shop called "Himalayan Tea Shop". From here just take a right and within few metres you will see cafes and guest house in the narrow street. I found this Cafe Milky Way which had rooms available Rs. 500 with wifi, hot water and ample parking space. 


Came to room with my stuff and threw myself on the bed as I was exhausted with the traffic and the noise of the car horns..God it almost felt like Delhi back there. It was good here in room and peaceful atmosphere around. It was time to take a shower and after that I came down to café to relax for a while.

Then I took my bike and rode towards the trail towards Triund Trek. Came to know that there is a ‘Monkey Point’ which is the starting point of the trek towards Triund. Triund trek was already not in my list as there was no time for it in this trip. I could have done that probably if I had one more day. But its alright, may be next time. So the ride towards this Monkey Point is complete off road and serene at the same time as you will ride through the jungle with insects chirping. There is absolutely NO road and the tough ride almost reminded me of the extremely difficult climb to Khardungla Pass. So if your bike is not in good condition it won’t make it. There was a couple riding with me on their Enfield but they couldn’t make it and turned back.


Reached the point but there was nothing monkey about it. Although the view was good from here. 

This is the point where the taxi drivers will leave you and then you start your trek which is 7km and takes about 2-3 hours depending on your fitness. I started chatting with some engineering students here who were just back from their trek and were waiting for their taxi to come. They told me it was absolutely crowded today at the top and with no place to stay. This means you can also start your trek early morning and return the same evening. But most of them go to get a view of the sunrise from the top which is absolutely wonderful I was told.

It was getting dark so I decided to head back and after a hard but fun ride again I was back at the guest house. 

Again the night ending early makes you wanna have an early dinner and hit the bed. But I still had time. I came out of my room and took a walk in the narrow street to look for a place. I could hear the soothing music being played in many of them, I can recall one of them playing Comfortably Numb..so cliche' right? So this cafe right next to my place of stay was Cafe Moonlight View and I ended up coming here. 




I liked the setting and ambience and specially the music which was pretty awesome keeping in mind the smoking up atmosphere here. To my left there were four girls rolling joints while to my right there were three guys doing the same. Soon the whole place was buzzing with the odour of the weed which was being smoked up and I won't deny it gets on your mind and gives you a light buzz too lol. Plus the music played a catalyst. I ordered chicken sizzlers which was pretty good I must say. After the dinner I took a walk and came back to my room and slept off like a super bike waiting for its parts from Italy.

Total Km covered: 70
Expenses on Day 2:
Guest House: Rs. 400
Paragliding: Rs. 2000
CCD: Rs. 180
Bun Tikki: Rs. 20
Pasty: Rs. 50
Tea: Rs. 30
Dinner: Rs. 260
Total: Rs. 2940

Day 3: Click Here
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