McLeod Ganj (Dharamshala)
Tibet Has a New Leader
Slowly slowly…brkfast on the terrace overlooking valley – wooded w/ pines & interspersed w/ hotels. Walked to bus via Buddhist shrines…left on bus at noon – same terrain as before, twisty, curvy, up & down all around. The road most of the way was paved tho the original asphalt was so patched over that little remained unpatched so it was a bumpy ride. We were fortunate to be sitting in the front of the bus which is not as affected by the ride & bumps. Being a local bus, passengers were on & off all the time – this was the first time we also had a calf loaded on board as well for part of the trip – we made 100 km. in 4 hours, ha! The driver was again quite skilled at braking just in time to avoid other vehicles, cows, goats, people. Being one lane we often found ourselves backing up for vehicles coming uphill or edging by as we headed uphill(uphill has the right-of-way). We arrived at 5:45 in Dharamshala where we sat on a bus for half an hour waiting to go the last 9 km up to McLeod Ganj – we just get out of the bus station and find a truck stalled in our lane plus a car parked in just the right place to narrow the road (this being the main road) down to one narrow passage. This time however, the downhill traffic gets the go-ahead by a stupid policeman who then allows all the traffic thru coming downhill...another 15 min. wait. Finally, we get the go signal and after only a block discover the REAL reason for slowdown is an asphalt laying machine which is putting down new road surface in the middle of town thus another one lane passage which takes a bit of time. After this delay we head uphill only to run into a Sikh parade w/ drums, horns, bells & whistles and singing…only in India would this happen, I swear. Then the switchbacks on a single lane up hill arriving at Kunga Guesthouse around 7:45, dumping our stuff and downstairs to Nick’s Italian Restaurant(run by Tibetan refugees) – what a change from Indian food selections, pasta, ravioli, and lasagna!
To Dali Lama’s residence and temple compound …another site for pilgrims, lots of ‘em…doing prayer wheels, shoe removal, candle lighting, prostrations and beads, circling round and round…belief & searching.
All around this area are cherry trees blossoming!!! Very strange. We ate lunch at Jimmy’s Italian Restaurant, tells you something about the place, ha! Lots of tourists and the accompanying selling booths all along the streets, which are very narrow to begin with.
After a strenuous morning touring the temple/residence of the Dali Lama we proceed to a lunch at Jimmy’s and then more cking out the shops…we decide to buy a fantastic wool rug after much agonizing (we don’t even have a home to put it in and w/ Bons’ travel plans it doesn’t appear there will be one for many years, ha!). Then we take in the latest Bond 007 movie, a rip off due to being pirated and of poor quality to boot…we leave there early after 3-4 minutes of no sound (the second time around)! What we saw of it even taking into account the poor quality I think it deserves a pass anyway.
Today is an excellent example of how this ‘group’ functions or perhaps malfunctions or perhaps bungles along…whatever the word, we do not really plan anything although Bon does keep in touch w/ the travel realities much better than either Mari or I. Since I was feeling a bit under the weather(altitude/food caused?) last nite when we returned from our excursions around town I ended up going right to bed while Bon & Mari ate and did some internet. Prior to this we had sort of agreed to leave and continue on down to Kanga where we were planning to catch the narrow gauge RR heading S. After a restless nite for me I awoke to find that Bon had now considered it an option to stay since she had realized we would not have any access to internet until Delhi where we have lots to do and being a big city its not fun to be there long (none of us wish to even go) but we have ‘business’ to take care of – glasses, malarone pick up, etc. At any rate, once we ended up at brkfast I thought we were going to stay but Mari who had previously expressed a desire to stay(“Why do we have to hurry along all the time?” is her usual mantra) suddenly sees no reason to stay! Now I am in the middle of this discussion, neither caring to go nor very anxious to stay but as it turns out the internet here is a good one for uploading so…I cast the vote to stay and here we are!