He's not here!

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Luckily we got the last couple of seats on the free shuttle bus from the Golden Temple to Amritsar train station. As it was free and this is India, there was no limit to the amount of people they tried to squish into it. Then they all started singing. It was actually kind of calming for 5.30 in the morning. We found our wooden third class seats. The train was pretty much like the bus - packed solid. We got off at Pathankot and would have to get the bus for the rest of the way. Some dick rickshaw drivers tried to charge us a ridulous amount to get to the bus station but we didn't fall for it, and 15 minutes walk later we were there. When we arrived in Dharamsala we had to get another bus to McLeod Ganj. When we finally arrived in McLeod Ganj the hotel Uri and Irit had recommended was full so we went with some lame tout to a different place. But it had satellite tv, which clinched the deal for David (cricket - Australia v West Indies!). We were starving so headed out for dinner. McLeod Ganj wasn't like I thought it would be. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't that. It wasn't an unpleasant place but it wasn't exactly the most spiritual place either. Just a bunch of hotels, shops and restaurants in the mountains. Nice setting I guess.

Day 2

Next morning David pissed me off really early by turning the cricket on, but I managed to go back to sleep for a while. I decided we should really get out and have a look around so we headed out to the Dalai Lama's house - Tsuglagkhang Complex. Unfortunately he wasn't home. He'd gone off to the States. Bugger. We walked around, spun all the prayer wheels, looked in the temple, watched the monkeys chase the monks and when we heard the sound of slapping hands, went to find out what was going on. It was the monks debating. One monk sits on the ground whilst the other walks back and forth slapping his/her hands and stamping one foot when they make a point. It looks very heated but is done in good humour. I didn't find the complex very holy or relaxing or spiritual either, but then again, I'm not religious or Buddhist. We went to take a look at the Tibetan Museum explaining the horrors of their situation. It is so much like the photo exhibitions we saw in Sarajevo, or the death camps in Europe. Just indescribable. It's so hard to believe people can behave in such a way. It's senseless. We spoke to some Tibetans working there that had come over the mountains with their parents when they were children. They said it was a very difficult journey. They had to trek at night so they wouldn't get caught. I can't imagine it. We didn't do much that night, the tv kept us entertained, although I did have some excelllent Tibetan thukpa (noodle soup). My first Tibetan food!!

Day 3

David watched cricket again for a while in the morning then we went for a walk to the little village of Bagsu. I thought it might be less touristy than McLeod G, but it was just another cluster of hotels, shops and restaurants. There is a nice little tiny Hindu temple there with a cute cow statue and a sacred pool that some guys were bathing in. We watched them trying to pull the runt of pack's bathers down. We followed the path round and did a little climbing up to a waterfall. There wasn't too much water there now but I'm sure it's pretty mighty in spring! We tried to do a Lonely Planet suggested hike and get to Dharamkot but we got kind of lost and just ended up back in Bagsu, but it had been a nice walk. We had walked through a sweet village where the kids all said hello and didn't even ask for anything! We walked back to McLeod G and went to have a look at Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa. You can see the brightly painted yellow roof from HH's house (His Holiness), but to get there you have to walk down a load of steep steps which means you will need to climb a load of steep steps to leave!! It was a nice little place with the usual prayer wheels but around the rear of the temple was the largest prayer wheel I'd ever seen - not having been to too many buddist temples before. We gave it a spin. Can't hurt! That evening we ran into the Funky Bikers, Peter and Debbie, a Dutch couple we'd met in Iran. Tomorrow would be our last day so we arranged to meet up with them.

Day 4

We took the Dutchies up to HH's house for another look around. I had a really nice masala tea in the café there and a piece of cake. We waited around a bit for the debating but as we found out, it was a no go. The monks had been out visiting another monestary that day and had the time off. They seemed pretty pleased about it too! We took them down to see Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa, which was great for us as the actual temple had been locked when we had been yesterday. The inside has some fantastic paintings.

Back in town we grabbed our bags and bid the Funkies farewell. We were meant to be getting the night hell bus to Delhi. The person who sold us the ticket said the bus would come right into the main square place but after waiting quite a while I began to get worried so David went to investigate. The bus was actually parked about 5 minutes walk down the hill!

McLeod Ganj is a strangely relaxing place. We ate some great food (great cheese and spinach momos), met some nice people and had a nice walk. Not spiritual for me though.
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