The Dalai Lama was busy.
I didn’t like the atmosphere in McLeod Ganj, which now makes sence as I heard about the situation in Tibet.
So I got out of there quickly but not before hiking up to Triund where you get a brilliant view of the snow-capped mountains.
I arrived in Chandigarh late in the afternoon. A strange city, designed by French architect Le Corbusier, straight lanes, good coffee(!) and no cows on the street. But many fancy cars and bikes.
While I tried finding a hotel I met Saira, A 19-year old modern Indian girl with who I ended up spending some time. She helped me find a place to stay, invited me to her home, dressed me up and took me out to trendy bars and clubs where we ‘hang out’ with her DJ-friends and talked about boys. As you do.
Again I was surprised, even though she and her friends do everything we do. They find it perfectly normal that at 21 (for girls) and 26 (for boys), They will get married to someone their parents will choose.
Also in Chandigarh you find the Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden. Full of weird statues little alleyways, big swings, Indian tourists wanting to take pics of me, and one guy called Sean with who I ended up spending the next two weeks.
As Sean jumped on a bus I took my bike to Rishekesh, the ‘yoga-capital of the world’. And the place the beatles spend a few months in an ashram in the 60’s.
So one morning I dragged myself out of bed early to give it a go. Couldn’t help feeling just a bit silly tying myself in a knot and falling over while others seemed very ‘Om Shanti’ indeed.
We, Vanessa (USA) Charlie (UK) Sean (USA) and me, also had a go at rafting. Now THAT was fun! Rafting on the Ganges river and having a guide telling you; “next rapid is called ‘Bodysurf’ guess what that means…” So there we all jumped overboard and indeed bodysurfed, feet first, down the Ganges. Couldn’t help swallowing about half a liter in the process. But got through relatively unscattered unlike the others who came out with either a mysterious rash, leech on the tongue or just feeling sick…
Days where spend wondering from cafe to cafe, playing backgammon, eating ‘Hello to the queens’ (a brilliant ice-cream, cookie, banana, chocolatesauce-dessert..) and drinking coffee.
We did celebrate St. Patricksday in style, even though no one was actually Irish, Charlie did do a very convincing accent. Because Rishekesh is holy we drove out 20km to find a bottleshop and had to bribe a policemen into coming in with us to get a fair price. But it turned out just like most paddys days in Derry 😉
As the festival of Holi was coming up we moved to Hardiwar, another holy city. In the evening down at the Ganges there’s hundreds of pilgrims putting offerings of flower baskets and candles down the river.
Holi, or ‘festival of colours’ is celebrated at the beginning of spring and people throw water and paint over each other.
We found out after coming down a cable car. As we walked through the streets people on balconies threw water balloons and paint on us. Safely back at the hotel we joined some others on our balcony and did exactly the same to all passers-by. That was great fun!
A little less funny I thought it was when we walked around the next morning and became a main-target. It’s the tradition someone put some paint on your face and wishes you happy Holi. But gangs of boys and men see it as a change to grab you and just touch woman… A bit uncomfortable and I was happy not to be there by myself.
Before I had to get back to Nepal we decided to visit the Corbett national park, where apparently you can see tigers.
The first time I rode the bike with 2 people and full luggage a whole day. It’s different. Good fun though! The road that I choose and looked very good on the map, wasn’t really a road at all but a lot off sand and rocks…
But great, and very different scenery. beautiful forest, or jungle even. And more fun being with two people singing ‘country roads’ then alone… 😀
So there we were on a proper safari, including a car, a driver and binoculars. Going around on a park road that dubbed as bus route between two towns. Together with about 20 other jeeps… Funny enough we didn’t spot a tiger, although we did find some footprints and scratchmarks on trees. Many deer and birds as well…
The day came to head for Nepal again. Sean returned to Rishikesh and I was on my own again.
I had no clue, ignorant as I am, about the upcoming elections and the trouble involved.
First thing I noticed where the flags on every car, bus, bike and bicycle passing. Then, coming down a mountain into town I stumbled upon a roadblock. First I figured there must have been an accident, but after getting off the bike for closer inspection it just seemed like thousands of people standing on the road with busses, trucks and cars unable to pass. So I climbed back on the bike and with my thumb on the horn made myself a way through the crowds. Later I heard it was a ‘Banda’ or Maoist roadblock…. And it’s not uncommon for them to set fire to vehicles passing their roadblock.
Only a few days ago some trucks with ‘election materials’ where stopped and found full of guns coming from India.
The elections themself start the 10th. The whole country is gonna shut down, schools closed, roads blocked and borders shut…
There is about 67 parties and 601 people will get elected to write the constitution…. when that’s done they will choose a parliament.
The Maoist, who already killed 3 opponents and keep beating people up and burning down houses, have as slogan;
“IF WE WIN, THE GUNS LOOSE. IF WE LOOSE, THE GUNS WIN…”
It promises to be an interesting time here in Nepal.
My plan was to ride to Kathmandu tomorrow. My bike thinks about that differently.
So she’s at the mechanic getting some much-needed care, and hopefully she’ll be good to go the 31st.
So we will be in time for my parents who arrive on the 1st of April! Together with friends they’re coming over for 3 weeks. If you like to know their side of the story check it out on