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Tibet In Exile..!!..Mcloud Ganj (Himachal Pradesh)

semi-overcast

17th-21st. July...
After an awesome week with Naveen & Neera at Darang Tea Estates and a 45min. drive, with many thanks to Naveen for the lift and farewell lunch at the Dhauladar Hotel in Dharamsala.. I've now been in Bhagsunag, about a 30min. walk north of McLoud Ganj now since Sunday..
I had stayed with Bhavinder & family here at Jagatram Niwas Homestay back in March 2011 with SongHi, & absolutely loved the spot.. A semi rural property overlooking the village of Bhagsu with amazing views through the valley to the sprawling city of Dharamsala .... Mainly notable for it's popular temple, the main steep & narrow street through the village is now lined with shops, cafes, homestays & hotels..If you are on the lookout for traditional medicines & Ayurvedic herbs, I'm quite sure you will find what you are looking for here too...
About a 20min. walk out of the village there is even a waterfall, frequented by pilgrims & tourists alike and in the monsoon season, as is now, it's quite a sight..
As expected, there are plenty of walking trails & trekking opportunities to choose from within the area, with the major day one being a steep 3-3.5 hour climb through Rakar village & the surrounding deodar (Himalayan Cedar) forests to the plateau of Triund at 2827m, which provides you with stunning views of the Dhauladar mountains...Not this day though, as they were covered in constant cloud.!!. There's a handful of chai shops at the top to refresh & rehydrate from the climb with even the chance of overnite camping or the luxury of a forest guesthouse should you want to stay a little longer, though probably not a good idea in the monsoons as I found on the way back down..The weather can be quite unpredictable and change almost instantly up here in the rainy season & if it wasn't for a timely stop at a small chai stop & having a small amount of wet weather gear, my time getting back down to Bhagsu would have taken much longer than expected...More keen on protecting the precious camera gear than myself, as you would..!!!..
A half an hour's walk from the homestay in Bhagsu brings you into Mcloud Ganj, home to the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyataso) & the Tibetan Government in exile, following an escape from Chinese occupied Tibet in 1959.. Gangchen Kyishong, his home is located just below the town on Temple Road, and he was relocated here in 1968 from Dharamsala...Not built to the lavish Tibetan style of old, the building is a plain & simple concrete building, with an aim to depict & respect the refugee community's limited means and status..
Adjacent to the complex is the Namgyal Monastery amongst whose monks are some of the Dalai Lama's chosen few personal attendants and there is even an old peoples home nearby for retired members of the Tibetan administration...Having spent a few hours here on two occasions this week I have soaked up the peace & spiritual tranquility of the place ... Also watched an afternoon of a monk's debate, when they debate & seal points and topics for discussion with great enthusiasm & excitement (some it seems do get quite heated) to end with a decisive clap of hands ... Interesting viewing.!!
Lunch at Moon Peak cafe/restaurant is a must for a traditional Himachal thali or my choice,the special of the day, Coriander Chicken & rice, washed down with a mango smoothie..Yum..!!.There are also plenty of traditional tibetan tea shops & restaurants in the village where it's hard to resist the taste of Momos.. A typical tibetan/nepalese steamed bun made with a white flour dough and a choice of fillings plus a side dish of dipping sauces/chutneys or pickles...
I don't think I'd go hungry here in India.!!..A couple of bucks and you get a decent snack with a drink or five dollars and it's a feast to last you almost the day, & the variety of dishes are endless.. A vegetarians paradise..!!..or non vegetarian for that matter.!!..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Posted by wattslee 03:14 Archived in India Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains buildings people trees markets history traditional india valley monks forest trip buddhist lama spices tibetan dalai Comments (0)

"Heading Back Home..!!"

semi-overcast
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5th _ 10th. July.... Plenty of walking & exploring the region in and around the towns of both New & Old Manali on either side of the Beas River..Both sides have their unique differences, with the new being the more business & city hub while Old Manali has the heritage & cultural charm of the past, yet inhabited by many more western/european tourists.. I have certainly met & had a coffee or two with some interesting & colourful characters in the few days I've spent here..From restaurant owners & shop owners to a tailor who repaired my pants (40 rupees) & a barber who gave me an awesome haircut for (300 rupees)..Understanding & speaking the native language has obviously been of a huge advantage..It still thrills me to see the look of shock on some faces when I break into my hindi.!! Amigos German Bakery has still been one of my favourite little cafes for a stopover coffee break or a snack through the day..
If you'd like a feel of serenity & calm from the noise & constant din of the city of Malani, an entrance fee of just 20 rupees will take you through a forest of ancient pines & natural woodland between the new & old towns .. Owned & cared for by the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the state of Himachal it's the ideal spot for some much needed "alone" time & space.!!
Having been offered a lift with the general manager of the Devlok Hotel hotel Arvind Thakur, I checked out a day earlier than previously booked to make my way to Palampur.. Well, on the consideration that the intended departure for an approximately six hour drive from Manali would start at 10:30pm, through unfortunate circumstances & delays we got moving at around 2:30am and reached the town of Amirpur at approximately 9:30am, where we parted company for my bus journey to Palampur and Arvind had another 4 hour drive to Chandigarh after spending a short while with his family .. Two bus changes, the second being at around two hours in public tranport & a bus that probably found every pothole on these crazy roads in the mountains.. and then a one kilometre walk .. cos' I made the mistake of getting off a couple of stops too early.. Eventually, an exhausting three hours later it was with a sigh of relief to put this journey behind me & be with the familiar faces & surroundings of the Darang Tea Estates.. I could not have timed my arrival any better.. with a quick shower & a freshen up, it was lunch and a rest to catch up on some much needed sleep.!!..Looking back now I can smile, but it's probably a journey I would rather not try again.. Stocking up & pinching apples & pears (in season) with the odd tea stop, on the drive through some of the orchards in the district of Kullu at 3am in the morning added to the excitement & broke the monotony of the journey.. Ah well.!..Kids will be kids with the joys of
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Posted by wattslee 21:30 Archived in India Tagged landscapes mountains buildings people trees snow markets accommodation history traditional india valley forest trip manali Comments (0)

Monsoon Arrives In Manali..!!

rain
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30th. June'16>Departed a rain drenched Kashmiri Gate Bus Station in Delhi at 7pm for the 11.5hr. road trip to the hills of Manali in Himachal Pradesh..As comfortable as a bus journey can be on long trips & especially India, I was impressed with service, punctuality & cost for a top rated company like Himachal road Transport Corp..Good drivers with good road skills, especially on the winding roads in the higher mountain regions...
Arrived around 9:30am in Manali a touch weary as I am more of a napper than a sleeper on long journeys and not one to miss much when travelling too.!!..Had to wait awhile for my room at check in for Hotel Devlok, but that's okay as I new I had arrived early & my reserved room was not ready..I was offered an interim room while I waited, which was quite unexpected & thankful..Late lunch/early dinner and I felt like an early night after catching up on emails & Facebook.. Wifi can be a little hit & miss here at times, so patience is the name of the game..They say it's due to weather, location & power cuts..No choice I guess, just go with the flow.!!... Caught up for a coffee with friend Bhuvi, who runs her own trekking & mountaineering school here, before she takes a group from Bangalore on a nine day hike up to Hampta Pass tomorrow..
2nd.July'16..Took the short stroll up to the Hidimba Temple this afternoon..intentionally the idea was more to try for a few candid/street style shots of the nearby markets & stallholders with the new OMD Pen-F & with the 45mm F1.8 lens attached, it seems like the perfect combination.. Okay that's enough of the technical stuff.!!..
Rain & more rain this evening..it's the monsoon season up here in the Himachal mountains & fortunately I decided not to do the long hike to Hampta Pass with Bhuvi this time..Will plan it for the better season next time...Highlight of the day has to be spending the evening for dinner with Bhuvi & her family...There's never anything to beat good home cooking & this time it was all Himachali style.!!.
3rd.July'16..An early breakfast & dodged the morning showers for a walk into town for a look see...As it's a major starting point for a number of hikes & other outdoor activities Manali is a typical tourist hill station, especially for the national population who's main aim is to distance themselves from the warmer temperatures of the south...have met a few from Mumbai, Delhi & Gujarat..and have received a few Facebook friend requests too..Just love the looks on faces when I break into the their national language .. Speaking Hindi in India as a tourist has certainly been an advantage, 'cos apart from breaking the ice in conversation it also lessens the risks of being ripped off or overcharged at times.!!.Twice the standard fee for a taxi or scooter rickshaw is the norm when they see you as a tourist, so it pays to haggle & not accept the first price before you agree to the ride.!!!..
Came across a great little cafe called "Amigos" German Bakery & owned by Tibetans (work that one out?!?!) just a ten minute walk to the city from the hotel...A main serve of momo's & masala chai will set you back a mere $4:00 & it also solved my hotel internet woes with free wifi as well...Guess where I'll be having lunch again tomorrow and the day after and the day after.......???!!.. Checked my emails/Facebook posts & got my all important Skype chat with my lovely SongHi back home. Happy now.!!!!P7030835.jpgP7020780.jpgP7030826.jpgP7030165.jpgP7020815.jpgP7020810.jpgP7020798.jpgP7020791.jpgP7020787.jpgP7020785.jpgP7020760.jpgP7020755.jpgP7020128.jpg

Posted by wattslee 11:59 Archived in India Tagged landscapes mountains buildings people markets accommodation history traditional hotel forest spices cameras Comments (0)

"Three Pairs Of Socks For A Dollar..!!"

Hello India...

semi-overcast 42 °F
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Sat 25th/Sunday 26th.June'16...After contributing a few voluntary hours at the annuaul Lytham Hall Club Day on Saturday, I stayed back & enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon of events at a typical English family friendly village show..Traditional market stalls, donkey rides,food stalls beauty pageants & workshops..Included this year was a vintage car rally too. No doubt about it, it's a popular family day out with the picnic blanket & basket..
Flew out of Manchester Airport on a wet & windy Sunday evening after dropping off the little red Honda Jazz I had rented and with a 2 hour stopover in Dubai I arrived in the steaming 40deg. heat of Delhi & checked in at the appropriately named Bed & Chai guesthouse in the city..It's been three years since I was here last with SongHi and yes.!. I certainly see a few changes since..Airport/Metro & Shopping plaza's as in construction & technology..Though, noise & pollution..Well, I've only been here a day..!!!!
28th...After some heavy rainfall in the morning I braved the 40deg. heat & humidity for a walk to Nehru Place today..Highly considered as a prominent cyber technology & IT hub of South Asia, it's a commercial & business district built in the 1980's and named after Jawaharlal Nehru (the first PM of India)..Built above an underground carpark & considering how popular and busy this complex is, maintenance is at an extreme low even though most of the main structures are still in use.. So, care for a bargain..?!. Well this is the place..Anything from computers, cameras, printer cartridges, digital printing & photocopying to even illegally copied software sold from a cart ... As most trading is done without receipts & bills bargaining is the name of the game here..ACCC/Health & Safety.!. What's that.??..
Thankfully, I am up to date with all the technology I require but I did require some new socks.!!..3 pairs of fake Nike & Adidas sports socks for a dollar...Well, I call that a bargain.!!..and socks sold at an IT market, you may ask.!!..Well so do I but I guess some computer nerds do need socks.!!
Chicken Biryani washed down with a Kingfisher beer for dinner & that's me ready for bed.!!!P6280119.jpgP6280116.jpgP6280113.jpgP6280112

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India (March 2011) - 113

India (March 2011) - 113

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Posted by wattslee 08:46 Archived in India Tagged buildings people planes markets accommodation history traditional hotel it trip software computers phones cameras Comments (0)

A Suk for an Old Souk..!!

sunny 100 °F
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Thursday 2/6/2016..An easy & relaxed day today..Well.!!.I am on holiday..!?!?.
Caught an Abra (ferry boat) across the Dubai Creek for 2 dirhams, to an area named the "Old Souk" in the Deira district..It's a colourful old traditional market area where hundreds of retailers selling anything from jewellery, shoes & textiles to herbs,spices & yes! Fake watches ..Bartering is the name of the game here and it's an experience not to miss..It certainly helps too, when you can understand & speak a couple of the languages.. Just bragging.!!! I guess wandering through the narrow lanes & alley ways takes you back to how life was in the old Dubai..The colours & textures certainly gave the Olympus a workout, though it's a shame cameras aren't equipped with smelly vision to capture the aromas & scents of the spices.!!!
A unique contrast to the modern high rise,fast paced Dubai of today..!!..Loved it...P6020147

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Posted by wattslee 20:33 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged people boats markets traditional dubai spices emirates jewellery souks herbs Comments (0)

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