Travelling is freedom - Basti´s global journeys

The Himalayan Refuge of the Tibetans

Hey guys

Bucket shower - classic We are in Daramkhot now, a little mountain village not far from Dharamsala, the exile headquarter of Tibetans and home of the Dalai Lama. The last mail I wrote was from Amritsar, the home of the Sikhs. We went to the Golden Temple at night as well and enjoyed this very spiritual atmosphere time and time again. The night was horrible, as the room didn’t have any windows and it was even hotter than outside. The showers don’t help as the tubes are so hot that even cold water seems boiling. “Shower” is usually a big bucket which you fill up and throw it over your head, that´s it.

Signing our death sentence – Indian buses

In Amritsar we woke up early in the morning to catch a bus to Dharamsala. On the bus we met Andres, a Chilean guy who has been travelling for 18 months. We have been with him ever since and he is just such a nice, chilled person. He has lots of time and just stops in every place he enjoys and stays there for Our first Indian bus (with many to follow) months. He has also been trekking in Nepal and told us everything about it and now we are starting to plan the trip to Nepal.

But first  back to the bus ride. I think I have never been so scared in my life, basically the driver just pulls the horn all of the time and passes every car in its way no matter if somebody is coming in the other direction or not. In the mountains, it turns with 80 km per hour even if the turn is very tight and the road exposed. Sleeping was just impossible and it was crazy! But we don’t really have a choice as the next weeks we won’t have any trains and will have to take Growing wildly next to all roads in northern India these crazy buses.

Moreover, starting in Amritsar, we saw marihuana plants next to the road all the way up to Dharamsala. They grow here like any other plant and are everywhere. There are just soo many of them and their smell is stronger than the emissions of the cars. Shiva is said to have introduced the so called “charas” and it is very popular in this area, as it is not regarded as a drug, but rather as a spiritual divine plant. It is either being consumed as hash or as lassie, the so called “bango lassie”.

Dharamsala – an oasis of peace

Beautiful and peaceful Dharamkot We arrived in Dharamsala, around 1500m above sea level and just love the temperature, 15 degrees, paradise after the desert. We stayed a night down there in the village, but it’s just so congested with tourists both Indian and foreign, and it is nice, but just too many tourists in one place. Out of pure coincidence we took a walk up a forest, and landed in Dharamkot. A little mountain village, the first place we have been to where you can’t hear any horns. It’s just so beautiful. A 30 min walk from town, around 1500 people live here in huts on a hill in the middle of the forest. It is very lush, rains a lot, and it’s just wonderful. We had already bought a ticket for the next town, Manali, a hippie town 15 hours (so basically around the corner) from here, but decided to cancel it and to stay a week here with Andres.

Dhalai Lama in town

As I already said, this town is the home of the Dalai Lama and the exile government of the Tibetans. It´s full of Tibetans and they live, work and organize their politics from here. Seeing the Dalai Lama is basically impossible, as he never gives public speeches. I read in the Lonely Planet that the only time in the year when he gives a few public teaching in the month of June, and exactly this is happening on Tuesday and Wednesday!!! We registered with two passport sized pictures and had to give our details, and signed up for it! It will be about fearlessness in Buddhism and we can’t wait. I mean it’s not only seeing him in person, but also in this town, in front of his people! It’s just something I couldn’t have imagined and it´s happening in two days! We got a little radio and the whole session is going to be translated into English so we can understand everything.

The one and only Guddu - a philosopher of life

Tibetan culture and food

This day we also moved our stuff up the steep mountain trail to Dharamkot and started chilling at Guddu´s! Guddu is the most chilled Indian ever. He built a little hut here out of bamboo; it has a cover but is open air, with a view over the valley and the forest. Even if it rains the entire time, you can just chill at his place. He cooks as well and prepares the best masala chai ever. And its sooo cheap. Like yesterday we spent the entire day at his, eating everything, 3 meals, drinking at least 10 teas each, and spent like 10 euros all together. We also have an open bill with him as we come and go. Usually we just buy a few mangos, go there, chill on the pillows, other backpackers come and go, and drink masala chai.

Life is easy and beautiful up here. But it’s raining all of the time, which doesn’t bother us apart of when we have to go to town to get money for instance. In the afternoon I walked down to Dharamsala and had a cooking class with a Tibetan fugitive. He fled in 1994, and now gives cooking classes in his kitchen. Learning how to make momos with a Tibetan refugee We prepared Momos, the typical Tibetan dish. Momos are steamed pasties filled with everything, veggies, meat, cheese, bananas. And in the end we ate all together. It was a really nice experience and next year we will definitely have a Tibetan Sunday dinner at some point! And I am still vegetarian, I haven’t touched meat since I got to India, but simply because there is not meat around, they are all vegetarians.

Fake meditation and annoying encounters

Today we wanted to go to town, but probably we will just chill here in Dharamkot, it’s just sooo beautiful. You chill at Guddu´s, drink, chill, eat amazing Thali, talk to some cool people. Ah and we went to a meditation class this morning. Because Dharamkot is basically a hippie alternative enclave. They do yoga, meditation, massage everywhere and have free drop in classes. I thought, well might as well try. But seriously, it was sooo shit. The name of the lecture was “the spiritual heart” and this guy was just talking so much crap, about how you are god, you have to find the real essence of life, in your spiritual heart, on the right side of your chest, and how only there you will find the answer to all of your questions blablabla. I mean I would like to try meditation, but without all this egocentric stuff.

You have to know that the people who offer these classes and who take part are not Indian, they do not grasp the real essence of meditation (I obviously don´t either, but I do not pretend to) and it´s just so fake. Most people here are very alternative, which is not intrinsically bad, on the contrary, but they are people who are not credible in what they are doing. I mean I want to try everything, especially a kind of more physical yoga, but I have to find the right place for it.

This place is as well full of Israeli people, who I have found very annoying so far, because as a German they are hostile towards me from the first moment, and they are just so restricted in their view (the ones I have met, I hate generalizing, but here it´s really annoying) and when you try to talk to them or argue Rita, our Indian cuisine teacher on something it ends with “but in the Tora” blablabla. But just now we have met a girl at Guddu’s, an Israeli; she is really cool and studies Chinese medicine. And with her we had a long nice discussion on Israel, the Middle East and other stuff.

Chilling in paradise

What is also so cool up here are the prices, we are paying 2 euros for our room and it´s huge and really nice. Well apart of this one MASSIV spider which was haunting our room today until we brought it outside. It was huge!!! Apart of that, chilling at Guddu’s and taking another cooking class as 6, at Rita´s, an Indian woman up here who offered to cook with us, this time I even convinced Yassin. We asked her to cook our favourite Indian dishes in her home. Really looking forward to that.

Guddu´s chilled out lounge Well we didn’t plan to stay in Dharamkot, but it is simply the most chilled place I have ever been to, especially at Guddu’s. People here in the north, especially in the mountains, are just so nice and relaxed, you eat good food, and you never have to walk further then 20m for anything. Just nice. Then in 2 days we will attend a teaching of the Dalai Lama, amazing stuff. Moreover, Andres is just such a nice person, crazy about football obviously, and it´s top to have him around and chill with him. I think that my accent got really bad by the way. Because the Indians speak with their funny Indian accent and I realized that they understand you better if you put on that accent, so both Yassin and I are imitating it, even when speaking to each other!

Well hope you are all fine guys, and we are just chilling here, trying to make some experiences with meditation, yoga and invading Guddu’s house.



One Response to The Himalayan Refuge of the Tibetans

  1. [...] in a little town. I have had the very best experiences on my travels in very small, unknown towns (Dharamkot in the Himalayas, Xing Ping in China, Muang Sing in Laos or Santa Fe in Panama). The fewer tourists a town gets, the [...]

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