14/10/17 – 17/10/17
We arrived in McLeod Ganj with no accommodation as recommended by Leo and Ingrid (the lovely Argentinians we rated with in Rishikesh). The first place we looked at staying at was expensive AND the walls were covered in mould! We were looking for another place when we were approached by two guys who asked if we were looking for somewhere to stay.
“Just 5 minute walk” they said. 5 minutes was actually more like 12 as we walked down side streets, over roofs and up steps through super secluded areas. Just when we thought they may be leading us to our deaths, we arrived at a lovely guesthouse with an awesome view! The Himalayas were even peaking through (I think).
The room was clean, quiet and had the essentials like a strong flush and half decent shower pressure!
To check us in, Manu needed to copy our passports so we handed them over. A few minutes later he came back in with some herbal tea he had (apparently) hand picked from the Himalayas! It was the yummiest tea we’ve had yet!
The three of us sat and chatted about everything from India to New Zealand to Indian horoscopes to Ayurveda. For those who don’t know, Ayurveda is a way of life that promotes natural medicines and treatments and supposedly enhances longevity. The massage side of it involves a lot of pressure point work.
Well, Manu and his cousin Wiki had actually starting studying Ayurveda in Kerala! Manu has been practicing for 7 years and Wiki for 3. So talking about it somehow turned into an actual mini Ayurveda treatment/assessment for both of us, where Manu worked our pressure points and told us off for eating greasy food and not doing yoga! He was horrified at how tight our feet, legs and back were! 😂
I know, we were both like “WTF is going on?! How did we get to this!?” 😂
We definitely chose the best place to stay because in no time we were both being massaged mended back together! After Manu finished my pressure point massage and had moved onto Danielle, Wiki even gave me a head and neck massage to top it all off!
After a couple of hours of full blown massages, they asked if we wanted to join them for dinner at their favorite Japanese restaurant. Always a fan of some Japanese food, we happily accepted! Glad we did though because as much as we love our curries, we just really needed a break
.. And MY GOD it was some great Japanese! We even risked it for the biscuit and ate raw vegetables!
After dinner we went to watch some live music. The band were friends with old m8 Manu so he showed off his drumming skills for a bit too.
In the morning we did a bit of market shopping and ruthlessly haggled for scarves, jewellery and even postcards! The thing with haggling is that it’s only a short activity because it is so damn tiring! We lasted only a couple of hours then headed off for some reflection at the Dalai Lama’s temple.
Around the courtyard of the temple there were monks meditating on just about every seat. In the first temple we weren’t allowed to take any photos, in the second we were but we didn’t take any anyway. Just another thing you’ll have to see for yourself!
A little pet peeve we both have is when travellers are ignorant. It gives other tourists a bad name! In both temples OBVIOUSLY you should be quiet and respect the space for people who may actually be there to worship or meditate.
We saw SO many people standing right over people who were trying to meditate, talking in stage whispers, being all round disruptive and unaware of the people around them. Don’t be them, please! You just need to be aware of where you are and behave accordingly 🙏
Anyway now that’s been said, we can move on…
Dotted around the temple (and pretty much everywhere else) there are thousands of prayer wheels which are spun clockwise.
After the Dalai Lama temple we also went to another temple which was beautifully painted inside with bright colours!
As we were leaving and finding somewhere to eat, we bumped into old mate Manu who took us to a yummy Korean place for lunch! The food was quite spicy but delicious and plentiful! There was so much that we could hardly finish it – now that’s saying something!
On our last full day Danielle wasn’t feeling so great so I decided to head out on my own to do a hike to see a panoramic view of the Himalayas. About an hour and a half in I got to a waterfall where a school group of literally 50 kids all wanted selfies with me!
I continued on for another hour ish but then I freaked myself out about snakes because I was by myself. When I met up with Danielle while she had lunch at the Korean restaurant, we googled it and it turned out that there weren’t snakes in that area anyway 😭
At least in Himachal Pradesh, there is more of a movement against rubbish and pushing for people to recycle which is awesome! On my way back I saw this huge sign. Good ol’ Dalai Lama!
Together we went for a walk around the temple where there were prayer flags hung all the way along the paths
We also saw some cute baby monkeys playing in the trees! Of course we stayed away from the terrifyingly huge monkeys!
For dinner we went to a Tibetan place and wowee, it was also so amazing! We actually ordered about 4 meals to share between us because it was so good (and cheap!). In the morning before our taxi to Amritsar, we even went there for breakfast and tried pretty much the rest of the menu!
At midday we jumped in the taxi with our masseuse/drummer/guesthouse runner/taxi driver/juice bar owner/rock climber friend Manu and off we went! Little did we know he would be the craziest driver we have encountered so far! Overtaking at random times, beeping like a mental person, and speeding up only to slow down to seconds later! Thankfully we made it safely to Amritsar!