A dusty seven hour bus ride later, we arrive in Dharamsala after dusk, and share a taxi with a couple other backpackers we met en-route. After driving up some of the steepest, windiest roads I’ve ever seen, at one point the four of us need to get out to lighten the load as the car couldn’t make it up a stretch without stalling, we get to McLeod Ganj. Early the next morning we finally get to check out the town we’ve been looking forward to for weeks. With views very similar to northern Nepal, this is the home to thousands of Tibetan refugees, the Tibetan Government-in-exile, and the residence of Tenzin Gyatso – The Dalai Lama, who just happened to be doing on of his very rare public teachings during this time. After signing up and receiving our passes, we spend the next few days eating amazing food, doing a bit of shopping, and hiking up to an awesome waterfall a few kilometers north of town. Other than being caught in a freezing rain storm on the first day of the teaching, the three days at the main temple were great, such an amazing experience to see such a wise and peaceful man in person. As an added bonus, random celebrity sighting on the second day, as Richard Gere passes right by us, and strangely, not a single person, local or foreigner seemed to notice! Enjoying the next couple days relaxing and soaking up the smiles and genuine friendliness of the locals, this is definitely the favorite spot thus far in India. It’s strange, most countries, and their people, seem to always want more, whether its wealth, or on larger terms, taking over other countries. While the Tibetan people seem only to want one simple thing, to be able to go back to their own country, and live in peace without persecution. Without getting into a rant, I”ll pass on what one Tibetan woman said to me in Nepal while we were discussing the situation: “China, Bullshit.”
Though it was sad to leave, time limits exist, so after an incredible week, we hop on another set of buses towards our next destination. Though choosing to do so on the country’s biggest festival of the year makes things interesting.
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