Chillin' in the Himalayan Foothills

McLeod Ganj Travel Blog

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McLeod Ganj, with the Himalaya's in the background
After about 2 weeks of pretty intense travel across India I was really looking forward to relaxing up in the north of India, in Mcleod Ganj.  

From Amritsar me, Sid and Emile boarded a local bus to Pathankot.   For some reason, there arn't any coach buses that leave Amritsar to the north (or anywhere!), so we had to endure 3 hours on a local bus or 'hell on earth" as I like to call it, just to get half way there! Local buses always have people coming off and on, 3 get off, 10 get on, 10 get off, another 15 get on. Somehow they always fit enough people on so that you have someone's armpit in your face, or if your sitting, at least an ass or two in your face!

Once we got half way, we all dreaded taking another local bus 5 hours, at night, up the mountain roads to McLeod, so we ended up hiring a taxi the rest of the way.
Me and Sid with Lopsi.

For those unfamiliar with McLeod Ganj, it is the home in exile (near Dharamsala) to the Dalai Lama and a large population of Tibetan refugees.  Having lost my chance to visit Tibet this past September, it was extra special to visit this Indian Tibet. And what a visit it was.  Now, I've met many people throughout my travels, but out of all of them I think Tibetans are the friendly group of individuals I've ever met!  During my stay here I got to talk to a lot of Tibetans and heard many stories of their escapes from Chinese Tibet, their hope for peace and their hope for a chance to visit relatives back home.

One of those stories was from a man I met at a local cafe, Lopsi.
Me and Monk having some chai
Over some chai he told me and Sid about how he and a small group trekked (by night) across Tibet for 27 days to reach McLeod.  They crossed through valleys, over glaciers, and over mountains all by night so not to be seen by Chinese troops patrolling the area. He said there were even a few times crossing glaciers in Tibet that he thought he would die. Once across Tibet, Nepal was no safe heaven, as they still weren't safe until they reached Kathmandu, because if Nepalese police found then they'd send them back over the border. Only once they reached Kathmandu, to the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center, did they know they were safe. 27 days! Wow. Lopsi's story I'm sure is shared, unfortunately, by many Tibetans.

We all ended up spending 5 days in McLeod Ganj, it was that chill and relaxing, unlike the chaos of the rest of India.
  Emile was a bit sick for most of our time there, so me and Sid did a lot of exploring around town and up in the hills. One day out on a hike, we made our way up the surrounding mountains, looking for a place to have some chai with a view.  We actually never found the place people told us to go, but did find a very nice monk, that preceded the arrival of Dalai Lama in McLeod more than 50 years ago.  We told him we were looking for a place to have some chai, so he insisted that we sit and have some with him! Very cool. We chatted with him for about an hour and then headed down.

Other than a few walks here and their all we ended up just shopping, sharing beers with the locals, and eating meals at a great little restaurant called the Tibetan Kitchen. EVERYTHING we ordered there was some of the best food I've ever had.
At a Monastery
  I think we ended up going there at least 6 times for lunch and dinner :)

Those days we spent in McLeod were what I really needed. As wonderful as it is to travel, sometimes the constant hassle of moving every few days takes its toll. On top of having time to relax it was great getting to know Sid.  Saying "Lankan please!" was the running joke between us. Lol.  Great guy, and I'm sure we'll stay in contact well after I return home. In fact, we both enjoyed hanging out  so much, I'm contemplating joining him and his friends back in Sri Lanka for new years!  We'll see what happens.

So that's McLeod Ganj. Next stop is Varanasi via Delhi. Thanks for the great time Sid, I'm sure we'll meet again soon! O' I just remembered, Sid actually waited a few extra days in McLeod and actually met the Dalai Lama! Lankan please!


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McLeod Ganj, with the Himalayas i…
McLeod Ganj, with the Himalaya's …
Me and Sid with Lopsi.
Me and Sid with Lopsi.
Me and Monk having some chai
Me and Monk having some chai
At a Monastery
At a Monastery
Me and Sid in a photo at the Karap…
Me and Sid in a photo at the Kara…
McLeod Ganj
photo by: Stevie_Wes