Apart from the Golden Temple, Amritsar is much like any other Indian city: loud, dirty, smelly, colorful and crowded. There’s not much to see in the city proper, but most visitors opt to pay the 100 Rupee fee for a round-trip shared taxi ride to the Pakistani border where one can watch the flag lowering and retreat ceremony, which occurs daily at 5PM when the border closes. This silly show of pomp and circumstance makes for some fun-filled, pre-dinner entertainment, but its origins are (almost) as interesting than the yelling, fast walking and high-kicking themselves. Continue Reading →
One of the most exciting things about travelling is not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night. When you’re on the road, everything you need fits in your pack. If you’re super prepared (unlike me) you may even carry a sleeping bag, opening up a whole world of interesting sleeping possibilities. In my year in Asia, I’ve slept in some pretty interesting places, usually because I show up late or unprepared in an unknown city (something that can be avoided if you prefer to use online booking websites).
I left Rishikesh on a night train en route to Amritsar, a Punjabi town close to the Pakistan border. The sleeper class berth was cold and noisy. I was surrounded on all sides by champion snorers and I don’t think I got more than an hour’s worth of sleep. Needless to say, when the train arrived at the station, I was in a daze. We found an auto rickshaw driver and asked him to take us to the Golden Temple, the world’s largest Sikh temple (Gurdwara), home to the Sikh holy book the Adi Granth, and the town’s largest tourist draw. Continue Reading →
As every long term traveler knows, sometimes, it’s time to slow down. Imagine you’re on a year-long, round-the-world adventure and you only spend 4 or 5 days in every place you stop—you rush from sight to sight, booking your bus/train/plane out of town just as soon as you arrive. At a pace like this, anyone, even the most intrepid of travelers, will drop from exhaustion (both physical and emotional) after only a few months. Continue Reading →
Diwali is the biggest festival in India. It is referred to by westerners as the festival of lights, though, if you ask an Indian, they are more likely to say the festival of light (no s), which signifies the triumph of Good over Evil. During Diwali, Hindus pray to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the god of wisdom, to guide their lives. Continue Reading →
It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived in India, and I’ve spent almost the whole time in Rishikesh. Rishikesh is an easy place to get caught up. It’s called the Yoga capital of the world and students flock from every part of the globe to study here: Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki, Ayurveda, Indian Music, Hindi. It seems that everyone is here to learn something, and those who aren’t are still trying to make or be something. The positive productive energy of the city is palpable. It seems that everyone you meet is smiling. Continue Reading →
The population of Nepal is made up mainly of people who define themselves as Hindus or Buddhists. Hindus are generally from the lower-lying areas in the lesser Himalayan foothills, whereas Buddhists commonly live higher in the mountains, closer to Tibet. In the Kathmandu valley, however, everyone gets moshed together along with minorities of Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs. The valley is home to some of the holiest religious sights in the country. Continue Reading →
The end of our trek coincided with the beginning of the Dashain festivities in Nepal. Dashain is the largest Nepali festival of the year–a Hindu celebration of the goddess Durga’s defeat of the evil demon Mahishasura. The story goes that, a long time ago, an evil demon terrorized both the land of the gods and the people of the earth and wreaked havoc, killing farmers and livestock, and spilling blood wherever he went. Try as they might, the people could not defeat the demon. Many gods and goddesses who tried were also thwarted. It was only after a 10-day battle that the goddess Durga was able to slay the demon. Continue Reading →
The Poon Hill trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. With only one week (or less) it offers views on the whole Annapurna range as well as Daulighiri, Tukuche and Machupuchare peaks. With that said, it’s easy to understand why this part of our trek was the most highly trafficked.