December 4, 2014

The Dalai Lama, His Holiness, The Himalayas, and McLeod Ganj

 The view from our hotel. I miss waking up to this.
 The gangsters of himalayas
I never thought the day would come where I would be 'trekking in the himalayas'.
Tibetan monks
The himalayas is even more beautiful in person. This picture does not do it justice!
Chicken momos. I loved Tibetan food.

McLeod Ganj is where the Tibetan government in exile and the 14th Dalai Lama, his holiness, currently reside. We took a 12 hour over night bus ride there from New Deli. The homes we passed were made of bricks and straws, the washrooms we used on the way was essentially a hole in the ground. At one point it was just 'cleaner' to pee in the bushes on the side of the road. "Oh God, I've turned into one of them." I mumbled, as I squat down hoping that I wasn't in the way of some reptile in the pitch dark farm field. After visually judging people I see urinating on the side of the streets in India for two weeks, I have actually became them.

We were in asshole mode when we got to McLeod Ganj. It's a side effect from being in India cities. When people talked to us, we immediately said NO. No, we don't want a taxi, NO, we don't want what you are selling, NO, we won't give you money. At temples that required us to take off our shoes, we refused to enter unless we can put our shoes in our backpacks or lock them up. On TV, when you get your stuff stolen, you eventually get it back. In India, if you're in luck, the old fat security guard will ask you what type of shoes you lost. And chances are he's asking only because he wished he would have taken those Nike runners for himself. 

But Mcleod Ganj is a completely different. It's calm, it's peaceful, and even the stray animals look healthier and happier. The streets are filled with Tibetan Monks, and Tibetans and Indians coexisting peacefully. After shrugging off a few hellos, we realized that these people were genuine with their 'hello' and unlike others in India, they actually do wish you a 'hello' without wanting something from you.

At a cafe we sat beside two Tibetan Monks. One of the monks was eating pasta and reading on his iPad. "Monks have iPads?!" I thought, "And they eat at restaurants?!"I then thought. At another table we saw a monk talking on his iPhone. They were new-age monks.

"How do monks get that stuff?" I asked the server.
"How do we get most things?" she answered.
"We... buy them?"

I guess I answered my own question.

We wondered around the streets and eventually came across the Bhagsunath Temple. There was what looked like a swimming pool that men were dumping water to. Beside the pool there was a store that offered to dress you like a native for you to take photographs. Across from the pools, there was a building with signs that indicate you must take off your shoes to enter. "Ah, I guess we aren't going in" I said.

"I can watch your shoes for you" an Indian with his kid said to me. He must have understood my shoe dilemma.
"No, it's okay. Thank you." I politely said.
"Please let me watch your shoes for you! You should go see!"

We reluctantly agreed. From there we walked up the stairs, passing the idols onto a large deck where we overlooked men continuously dumping water into the pool. The water in the pool had a dull sheen, and its surface reflected nothing. Wild goats were peacefully walking down the street passing a few monks. Everyone were minding their own business. No one was pestering anyone. There was no sound of car horns or the smell of exhaust. This was when my familiarity of India slipped away, and McLeod Ganj seemed like its own separate world.

The guy watching our shoes was there when we got back down the stairs. I tried to give him some money but he refused to accept it, "I just wanted to show you that it's safe here! You don't have to worry!"

I think that was when I fell in love with McLeod Ganj.

The next morning we got up early and hiked in the Himalayas. Then we stopped by an internet cafe for brunch. The view was of local apartments with Tibetan prayer flags on their ceilings, the background were the Himalaya mountains. As always in these trendy cafes, I asked for the wifi password.

"WHAT THE F-K! WHY IS MY PHONE BILL SO HIGH?!" I said, as I checked my bills.
"Uhm, can you keep it clean? We are at the home of the Dalai Lama... And there's a child behind you." Eric said.

Suddenly I realized that I was sipping on organic tea in a city with people of exile and there I was cursing at my mother-fucking cellphone provider. All I could say was whoops.

Later we visited the Dalai Lama temple and the Tibetan museum. The history and how the Chinese government treated Tibetans is so sad that I couldn't get through the whole museum. I left McLeod Ganj with an appreciation for the Indian government for letting them reside and I had deep respect for the Tibetans. In the market, Eric and and I bought ourselves a Solidarity with Tibet hoodie.

"How much is this?" I asked.
"500 rupees" the Tibetan lady said.
"If we buy two, can you make it 900 rupees?" Eric asked.
"No sorry."
"Reeeeally?" Eric asked again.
"This is for Tibet charity. Set price."
"Wow, haggling with Tibetan charity. You might as well go drown a crate of blind kittens while you're at it." I joked.

We each bought one. We felt that the people in McLeod Ganj treated us with such friendliness we had to give something back, at least show our support.

After the Chinese military took over Tibet, the Chinese government force Tibetans to speak, read and write in Chinese and heavily discourage them to use their own language. The Chinese government use some of Tibetan's most sacred ground for dumping their chemical waste and chemical testing, and their sacred temples as military storage. They also punish anyone who practice their religion and torture those who have a photo of the Dalai Lama.

Even though I am not Tibetan, this hurt my feelings. Whether you believe in someone's religion or agree with their way of life, everyone deserve to be happy and to live the life they want as long as they aren't disrupting anyone else. Who is to say that one way of life is more right than the other? If someone is peacefully practicing their religion, what gives you the moral right to stop them? But I guess some only care about power and control, and somehow can sleep peacefully at night knowing they are slowly wiping out a nation that have never showed any violence or militarily resistance to anyone. The world is cruel and unfair indeed.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What an amazing experience and these photos are simply breathtaking!! Thank you so much for sharing...such a history in that part of the world!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Amazing photos dear!

  5. Wow, McLeod Ganj sounds very interesting, and I never knew there was such mistreatment in Tibet on the part of the Chinese government!

    But McLeod Ganj does sound like a better place to spend time than India!

  6. This is such an interesting read, thank you for sharing!

    x Karen

  7. Really great photos, your outfit is lovely as well :)

  8. A fascinating story with some great photos. I am following your blog with interest and will visit again.

  9. This is incredible! What an awesome experience to be able to have!!!!!!! Your pictures are gorgeous!

  10. The Dalai Lama visited my friend's college and from what she told me, he's a really cool dude! I'm so jealous! I was visiting her during my Fall Break, but had to go back for school and just missed the Dalai Lama. Anyways, the Himalayas look amazing and I really want to visit! And the gangsters of the Himalayas crack me up :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  11. This looks really cool! I love your pants! I'm wearing some similar ones right now! Asia has the best patterned pants!
    Melanie @

  12. That city must be really interesting and friendly. What a nice gesture of the Indian who suggested to watch your shoes for you! I would offer money as you did, but sometime we have to think about that not everything is money. I really liked your reaction for the monks with the i-things, haha. Beautiful photos and the story is an interesting read!

  13. "Who is to say that one way of life is more right than the other? If someone is peacefully practicing their religion, what gives you the moral right to stop them?"
    this. Thanks , great article.

  14. Your photos are absolutely beautiful, and I loved reading about your experience. I want to visit myself now!

  15. i looove your outfit! so good. and these photos are gorgeous!

  16. wow those pictures are so beautiful! it looks like such a great adventure and I hope I can travel and see those gorgeous landscapes in person as well! Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog, I’m following you on Bloglovin and G+, I hope you can follow me back to stay in touch.


  17. My gosh, what an incredible place. These photos are magical and the post is awesome. My heart warmed a little when I read the part about the kid that wanted to watch your shoes (did think he was going to steal them, and then felt very bad about it...)!

  18. Wow, what an amazing place to visit and experience to have!! I would love to experience it for myself someday. I loved reading about the history and your time there and your pictures are stunning. Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Human beings are indeed a cruel lot, dear Julie...but it sounds like you found a little corner of the world where that might not be the case. Most of us could probably learn a thing or two from the Tibetan people; and I can imagine that you must feel very lucky to have visited McLeod Ganj. Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful photos.

  20. Fantastic photos! I want to see more of this part of the world.

  21. Well, if I ever make it over to India, I know what part I want to visit!
    It really is sad how mistreated the Tibetans are - we are so unaware of that part of the world and their struggle. I'd have to agree - if someone is peacefully living their way of life, what kind of example are you setting if you belligerently barge in and force them to change their ways? Certainly not a better way of life!

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  22. wow, this is absolutely incredible. i've always wanted to go to the himalayas, that must have been the trip of a lifetime, and your photos are breathtaking!

  23. I've actually known about how the mainland Chinese have treated the Tibetans for a while. It's sad, but it's just the way things are. When a country comes into contact with another, there's always this sense of can we conquer? Like the Native Americans and the British in the USA. Now there aren't that many Native Americans in the USA because the British, and the Americans decided to wipe out a lot of them. It's sad, but it's what people do.

    If there was any way for us to stop the genocide and just have peace that would ideal.

  24. Wow! The place, the sceneries, your outfit all combined together look perfect. It's nice to wake up every morning with that view.

    Have a great day! :)


  25. You totally make me wanna visit all those places!

    Check out my latest OUTFIT POST
    XoXo Venoma
    Venoma Fashion Freak

  26. Such a beautiful place to visit! I can't believe the shoes were still there. It's nice to know there are people like that. The second I get out of asshole mode, I run I to one and regret it. But I also regret it when I'm in AH mood and run I to someone genuinely nice.

  27. so sad. lmaa @ the where did they get ipad's and cellphone's from. glad the boy & his dad watched your shoes. Nice to see genuine people.

  28. Beautiful sights and breathtaking photos! You make me want to visit Tibet so bad now!


  29. You are too cute, I love the fur and the pics are awesome.