Tuesday, March 24, 2009


(my camera has gone a bit psychadelic for some reason so some of these pics look great!)

It was a long journey to Dharmsala but a lovey picturesque one. The landscape became more and more mountainous i couldnt take my eyes off it. The roads here are pretty bad i worked it out that although the bus seems to be driving recklessy fast it only covers about 20k an hour!

Inside of the luxurious indian local bus

Little villages on the way...and you think there's not much happening in Mullingar??

We got there just after sunset...the whole day on the bus....numb ass, numb ass!

We arrived in Dharmsala pretty late, myself and 2 others Courtney and Gardiner headed to a house on the hills where we were couchsurfing. The nice thing about arriving when its dark is that you can relax that night when you arrive and when you wake up in the morning there is a huge surprise waiting for you of whats outside! The view from the couchsurfers house in the morning time was unbelieveable. It was just of mountains to one side and a valley in front. The mountains were huge a covered in snow and just right beside the house! We decided we must buy a house here in the future!!

Not a bad view from your KITCHEN!!!

A 'cute' spider we found walking back to the couchsurfers house one night, he jumped off the wall when the camera flashed we jumped a little!!

We got up very early the next morning for the Dali's lama's speech which was in the next town called McLeodGanj....it was founded by a scottish lad as far as i know hence the very non-indian name!

This is Dali Lama's house

The speech was set in a temple beside where Dali lives. They had it decorated nicely inside with prayer flags. We took a seat on the ground, Dali's speech was in Tibetan so we couldnt understand a word but he had a very catchy, funny laugh so when he burst out laughing we all burst out laughing and it looked like we were laughing at the same thing! I will always remember it was such a beautiful clear sunny morning with fresh air blowing, not too cold not too hot i was in heaven especially after the long, cramped bus ride the day before. I decided i was really going to like this place!

It was very different here to the other places in India that ive been as the people here are mostly Tibetan and Tibetan monks at that so it doesnt really feel like being in India at all, which in a way i felt a bit sad about because im really growing to love this country! The one advantage with monks all around the place is that for sure there is less chance of getting a really horrible ass grope from a dirty indian man!

There are prayers written on these wheels so when you spin them clockwise you are saying your prayers how handy!

I dont know if it was more for the tourists benefit but there seemed to be some sort of 'free Tibet' protest everyday.

Forget the protest look at those mountains!!!!

The really lovely thing about here was that you could just go for a walk for hours and hours which i dont think you can comfortably do in the busier cities and towns and i LOVE walking! I had filled my mp3 player with indian type music with the citar and flute so i just floated through the forests listening to this, the exercise and the fresh air was a big change and so good!(although cancelled out a little but the food here which was also too good!) Although you still get every indian man stopping his car or motorbike hoping you would like to be picked up, it feels safe and the views are so great i walked for hours there.

Unfortunately the morning we were packing up our stuff to move from the couchsurfers house to McLeodGanj i could only find one of my shoes outside. My really really good shoes!!! It turned out one of the local dogs probably took it in the middle of the night to play with. I wish the couchsurfers could have told me not to leave my shoes outside!!! I was DEVASTATED, such excellent shoes and probably the most valuable thing i owned. I was incredibly pissed off that day as i couldnt go hiking in flip-flops. Anyway i suppose the positive thing is that there is nothing i own now of much value so im getting even more detached from having material things....still though...how annoying!...ok ok im over it (writing this a month later!!)

It was a co-incidence that i saw this sign soon after at a temple..

Right....moving on!

Here is a strange little fellow that we found chillin out at a temple on the main st

And of course the obligatory cow picture in every blog entry...just chillin in the middle of the road the car beeping its horn like crazy....only in india!!
Here is something stupid you didnt need to know. I thought i'd post these pics of some Dharmsala restaurant toilets!
There is a water shortage in this town but..yeah a bath..wishfull thinking!
And when i asked the shopkeeper did he have a toothbrush for sale i was presented with this box of ancient toothbrushes!!
The day after Dali's speech was Holi festival! Its where everyone throws toxic paint on each other woohoo! I did have an extremley boring very long explination of the reason behind the festival where i drifted in and out of listening to a song in my head, i think it has something to do with the death of winter i could be horribly wrong. Anyway we put on some old clothes (ha ha they're all so old by now..) and head off into the street for some paint throwing.
I got a nice facefull of pink from this guy with the totally green face! It was quite a friendly Holi festival i had heard that in the big cities it can get really out of hand but here the people were like...oh can i put some paint on you!! I got a good unexpected slap of the coloured powder when i turned a corner, it was all in my mouth and nose such a musty smell, i got those guys back with all the pink powder i had left. It was like if you already had some paint on your face then it was a licence to be ambushed and if somebody was totally clean you asked oh happy holi can i put some paint on you!
We were having a coffee afterwards when the lady in the cafe pleaded with me to wash the paint off asap as its so toxic, easier said than done in a town where there is only water for one hour in the morning!!
The next day myself and Lydie went on a hike to find the waterfall that was nearby. We stopped 5 minutes later to get some delicious ice-cream off this guy, then back to the hike!
We almost stopped again 10 minutes later for tea! why push ourselves...and poor me in my sandles not my lovely shoes...
It was a nice walk, the waterfall was a stream of water falling down a hill into a small pool at the bottom.
The clouds were starting to get very heavy, we saw this sign in the middle of the hill so we followed a track up to a cool cafe in the middle of the mountains. We got there just in time as it started very heavy rain, thunder and lightning! There was no better place than a cosy cafe, sipping hot sweet chai and having a chat with some locals and tourists that had spent maybe too much time in the area!
I had a few games of this carrom board with a one-eyed tibetan guy who spoke no english and me obviously no tibetan but there was no problem in understanding! He had played this game a lot and slaughtered me every time with his fancy moves! I also got chatting to some indians here and i realised how much of an inferiority complex the indians have about themselves. They were saying 'oh no we're not lucky at all, life isnt good for indians' i was saying to them 'guys look where you are!on holidays also in a cool cafe in the middle of the mountains...what is there to complain about'! But the guy insisted that indians are just not as cool or good or as up to scratch as westerners. Well this is obviously just his opinion but i have to say if only he could know how much i love india because of the amazing people ive met! The people here really are one of a kind they are so easygoing, funny, caring, generous, kind, massive personalities, that for me is more important than any amount of material things....even nice shoes.....
Before i left Dharmsala i had promised my mum i would call into a convent nearby. Her aunt was a very famous nun in India...a lesser-known mother Theresa type lady and she was the head nun of a group of schools around india and was known as 'mother'. The convent was set in the middle of a nothing type town, but after i entered the gates i was blown away by the beautiful gardens. The nuns were so so excited that 'mother's grand-niece had come to visit, they were telling me all about how much they admired her. I had to say they had a great sence of humour and very on the ball! The nuns fed me although i had to force it down i was already so full, they gave me sweet stuff and nutmeg to take home. There was also a lot of load explosions outside, when i asked where they doing up the garden they said no they were making their graves.
I had met a few irish people here, the first irish i think that ive met since coming to india and as it was coming up to St Patricks day we decided to organise somthing for the event! I was trying to get hold of some green paint from Holi festival to decorate ourselves with but i never got around to it...as was the general scene of things here! We had a little shindig in a cafe where the Tibetan lads working there had lived in ireland for years and had a super strong Dublin accent! They cooked traditional irish food without the beef...oh it was delicious, we washed this down with cheap indian whiskey then while there was an irish guy on a guitar, a tin whistle and an irish lady who was excellent at playing the flute, i was dragged up to perform the worst irish dancing you ever could see in your life. Not only was my stomach a big bag full to the brim of food and whiskey i really just cant do the irish dancing! Anyway it was a good effort and a fun night and i felt proud to be irish!
You could hear the liquid sloshing about my stomach as we did a frantic jig for about 20 mins!

Next off to Manali.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Dalhoosie is a mad little village in the middle of the mountains in the middle of nowhere where the indians go for a holiday. There is a very different feel to a place thats a westerner holiday place. Its nice though! Funny!!

Its was a nail-biting 6 hour bus trip from Amritsar i had to stop myself from looking out the window of the bus, the driver was going too close to the edge for comfort!

The first thing i noticed was the wolliest sheep ive ever seen. This might have given some indication that it was going to be cold there! We walked about 2k until we got to the main st and found a very dindgy cold room but it did the job!

Well it was freezing cold, we were not prepared one bit in our winter clothes. I put on absolutely every piece of clothes i owned including the 'Jasailmer Camel Safari' hat i was wearing in the desert. I finished off my outfit with a colourful blanket as a coat. We were the only non-indians walking down the main st, in our mad outfits to keep warm! You can imagine the indians were like 'what the hell is this!!!'. Dalhosie seems to be a real calm honeymoon, or family type place so they just all dropped what they were doing to see these white folks prancing along the streets wearing layers and layers of summer clothes!!!

Fer-eezing in the room!

They were going mad to take photos of us holding up their mobile phones pretending to write a message while clearly taking a picture! We went to eat in a tiny little fast food place. All of us in all our clothes practically took over this little place. My god the food was amazing!!

Halfway through eating our food the 'pretending to text on the mobile' but really taking a picture of us started again. I asked the guy 'Hey do want to take a photo of us???' We noticed that everyone on holidays here was dressed to the max in designer suits and their best sunday clothes. This guy that was taking photos of us had his hair all slicked back, wearing a snazzy grey pinstripe suit, black shirt and playboy bunny earings!!

I dashed out of the fast food place to try and find a toilet when i was stopped again for more 'snaps!'. First with the father, then the mother, then one with the aunt, then with the kids then one with the whole family....and me in my 20 rupie camel safari hat and blanket!!! Very lovely friendly people though and very nice to go to an indian holiday spot, its a real taste of the indian culture and i love it! This place as unspoilt and had beautiful mountain views. The air was so clean and crisp and it was very cold but sunny.

Off we headed the next day to Dharmsala where the Dali Lama would be making a speech, it was great to visit such a little town like Dalhoosie...hope its a little bit warmer in Dharmsala!

Monday, March 16, 2009


The strange looking rickshaws in Pathankot, made by Mercedes apparently

Wow a long night and day on the train until we arrived at Pathenkot where we caught an onward bus to Amritsar. We arrived there pretty late in the evening and were ambushed by about 30 rickshaw drivers, touts, guesthouse owners and just curious people. A crowd formed around us (getting 8 people organised is much harder than when you are on your own you can slip away unnoticed). Anyway back in the day when i arrived in india first i probably would have found this pretty intimidating but i just couldnt stop laughing at the situation, a big hearty laugh, all the guys around us were blocking the whole main road, causing even more chaos with the traffic becoming totally backed up, and patience is not a word associated with indian driving!... all because some tourists stepped off a bus.

Oh gosh i couldnt stop laughing although some i was travelling with didnt find it so humurous! The only thing i had to fault was that it had to have been the most polluted air i have ever breathed. It was like inhaling directly infront of the exhaust of a bus, the air really cut into my throat and lungs. It was dark but it looked like there was smoke in the air. It was just maddness, the air so thick and smoky you couldnt see anything, just the cars lights which were coming from all directions and beeping like crazy...not at us in particular just slam on the horn its rush hour! We eventually found a dindgy room that did the job and just settled for some quick food then sleep....a great sleep!

It really looks like something from a movie!

Two beautiful indian ladies who asked me to take their picture (oh just spotted the lady at the back getting in the westerners photo too!) and have no idea they are on the internet now.....
The next day we headed off to the very famous Golden Temple. This is run by Sikhs, i dont know much about this religion except the men wear turbans, and both men and women carry knives at all times. The men have a big sword and the women a dagger in a case by their belt. I was wondering why so many women on the train on the way had daggers with them i was getting worried we were entering a very dodgy area!
Thats an impressive turban dont you think? not sure whats up with that chappy in the yellow turban on the left!!

Yep its a catchy style i know...

The golden temple provides free accomodation and food to all. yes ALL. Its crazy and quite heart-touching how these people voluntarily work like crazy to house about 5000 and feed about 40,000 people a day for free! Our accomodation was great! Tourists are fast-tracked to the luxury accomodation of being indoors, yet anyone who wants to stay is provided with blankets if they wish to sleep on the ground, and the weather certainly was nice enough to sleep outside. In the tourist section beds lined the wall which reminded me of the orphanage scene in Annie!...which made me like the place even more! Hot water for a shower, clean drinking water and a washing machine...not even just bare essentials are provided!

Our lovely room

The food hall you might see me there with my big shawl!

Sleeping all over the place

The food you can go to 24 hours a day. You have to take off your shoes and cover your head to enter. You grab a tray and sit down in a row. A guy runs past slopping a ladle full of dhal onto your tray, next a guy with marathon speed spoons out the rice all along each row. The food here also was not just basic and boring, it was the most delicious rice ive ever tasted and everytime i went the meal was different.

Its crazy this goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day

The temple itself was like something from a theme park, it shined like a big gold chocolate bar wrapper! Gentle drum beat fills the air as you walk around the temple and its so so relaxing or possibly ment to be a kind of meditative beat that you just float around and feel very refreshed!

We met this mad mad lady at the temple, she had worked with us on the movie in Jaipur. She was Tina from Germany a lady who spent a lot of time in Goa...a lot!!...first time in 83! She was a middle aged lady, absolutely crackers but very kind hearted, she was surprisingly kind of on the ball and had a hilarious sense of humour. The men and women bathe in seperate areas at the temple. To bathe in the holy water you just get in and kind of dip down so that you have covered yourself with the water. Tina was telling me she gets in the little pool every day and starts doing laps in the pool under the water like in a normal swimming pool! The one night i shared a room with her and another guy in the temple i fell asleep while she was telling me about a guy she met who had been to Goa in the 60's and wow how she wished she could get in a time maching and go back to Goa in the 60's oh she was wishing and wishing this as i fell asleep. I woke a few hours later to hear Tina completly in stitches laughing...to herself...in the dark...when both myself and the other guy had been asleep! She is one of a kind for sure!

The temple at night

Amritsar wasnt a bad little city either. It had great character, very friendly people and the same naiveity (jaysus no idea how to spell that....) to tourists as in Bikaner and so although every 5 minutes you were being asked to be in the photo with the whole extended indian family (and i dont know why they want a foreigner in their family pic!!!). The people where great, i walked one day all around the city for about 8 hours just stopping at the street food vendors to have some sugar cane juice or papaya and just enjoying the maddness!

It was time to leave the temple and head further north to the nice cool mountains, an indian guy recommended the little town of Dalhoosie so off we went!

Bye bye crazy Amritsar