Frankfurt, Germany | August 21, 2005
Nürnberg, Germany | August 22, 2005
Füssen, Germany | August 25, 2005
Graz, Austria | August 26, 2005
Pliskovica, Slovenija | August 28, 2005
Maribor, Slovenija | August 29, 2005
Ljubljana, Slovenija | August 30, 2005
Zagreb, Croatia | August 31, 2005
Split, Croatia | September 4, 2005
Korčula, Croatia | September 7, 2005
Dubrovnik, Croatia | September 8, 2005
Sofia, Bulgaria | September 10, 2005
Plovdiv, Bulgaria | September 12, 2005
Istanbul, Turkey | September 14, 2005
Selçuk, Turkey | September 20, 2005
Samos, Greece | September 25, 2005
Naxos, Greece | September 27, 2005
Santorini, Greece | September 29, 2005
Crete, Greece | October 3, 2005
Rome, Italy | October 7, 2005
Ales, France | October 10, 2005
Chamonix, France | October 18, 2005
Paris, France | October 21, 2005
Delhi, India | October 27, 2005
Mcleod Ganj, India | October 30, 2005
Rishikesh, India | November 7, 2005
Varanasi, India | November 12, 2005
Agra, India | November 15, 2005
Bharatpur, India | November 17, 2005
Delhi (Paharaganj), India | November 18, 2005
Bangkok, Thailand | November, 20 2005
Chiang Mai, Thailand | November 22, 2005
Pai, Thailand | November 25, 2005
Amed, Bali | November 30, 2005
Canberra, Australia | December 6, 2005
Holidays Point, Australia | December 14, 2005
Port Maquarie, Australia | December 15, 2005
Noosa Heads, Australia | December 18, 2005
Coolangatta, Australia | December 28, 2005
Sydney Airport, Australia | December 30, 2005
Nadi, Fiji | December 31, 2005
Boulder, CO | January 4, 2006

Mcleod Ganj, India

October 30, 2005

We updated the Delhi page -- a few times! We are so happy to be here in McLeod Ganj and in the mountains!

So we made a safe exit from Delhi last night. Caught the overnight train to Pathankot, and took the bus up to Dharmasala this morning. Pretty crazy bus ride, but no one got sick.

It's really nice to be up in the mountains and out of the noise, pollution and crowds of the city. For those who don't know, Dharmasala is where the exhiled Tibetan Government is based and home of the Dalai Lama. There are Tibetan monks all over the place here.

More later when we've settled in a bit more. We'll probably stay here for several days.

November 1, 2005

Finally got some photos uploaded! Connections here aren't the fastest.
We're enjoying our time here. The Hindu holiday of Diwali is going on, so it fun - except when the *very* loud firecrackers go off close by. We're still a little jumpy.

We've been watching movies at the local "movie theatre" which consists of about a dozen chairs and a big screen tv in a small side room. They have all the new releases though. We watched The Corpse Bride the other night, and What The Bleep Do We Know last night. We'll probably go catch the new Wallace & Grommet or Brothers Grimm tonight.

November 1, 2005

We've been gone a long time so we love having some correspondence from home. Picture us day after day scrolling down the web page to see if we have a new message and there is nothing. We are soooo sad and it takes hours for Luke to recover from these daily blows of no messages! (we're hoping that guilt is best motivator here ;) So until futher notice, if we do not get a least 1 message a day, we will keep all of our great photos and questionably valuable blog to ourselves! Love to you all

Luke says:
Thanks everyone for the comments! It's really great, and we promise we'll have more stories and photos to upload tomorrow.

November 5, 2005

We need to get catch everyone up with our time spent here in McLeod Ganj and upper Dharmasala!

We are really enjoying the beauty and peaceful feeling of this place. We are both feeling better and loosing the last of our Delhi induced coughs. This place had many comforts: loads of internet cafes, friendly fellow travelers, a great community of people who are living here (6 months to a year) teaching English and computer skills in the Tibetan community, yummy western and continental food, even little movie theatres that offer comfy chairs and large screen TV?s showing fairly new Hollywood movies and Tibetan movies to raise awareness of the situation that the Tibetan people are facing here and in their home country. Tibetan children are the most BEAUTIFUL children in the world and everyday when they make their way back home in their school uniforms Luke and I go crazy pointing out our favorites to each other! Respectful, we haven?t taken photos of them but we?ll see what we can do. There are cows, dogs, a few monkeys and donkeys wandering the streets here and there. The people selling items along the street are warm and friendly and hardly at all pushy. (Nothing like Turkey!) Maroon and gold robed monks play cricket in the monastery yards, while momo (steamed Tibetan dumpings) and chai street vendors call out to potential customers. After 10 days in India we are getting the hang of looking up for a few seconds to enjoy everything around then down for a quick cow patty scan, up, down, up, down...

Here is a little background courtesy of our Lonely Planet guidebook. McLeod Ganj, at an elevation of 1770 m, is the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the residence if His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. It was established in 1850 as a British garrison and was an important administrative center until an earthquake in 1905 forced the British back down into the valley. It was a backwater stop until 1960 when the Dalai Lama, then 25, and his entourage claimed asylum here following the Chinese invasion of Tibet. The name, McLeod Ganj, comes from David McLeod, a lieutenant governor of the Indian state of Punjab, and the Hindi word for market (ganj).

One afternoon we visited the Tsuglagkhang complex, a short, 5 minute walk from our guest house. This complex comprises the official residence of the Dalai Lama, Namagyal Gompa (temple), museum, bookshop and the Tsuglagkhang itself.

The Tsuglagkhang, or central chapel, is the exiles? equivalent to the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. It is the most important monument in McLeod Ganj. It is a modest structure that houses 3 magnificent images including a 3m high, gilt statue of the Sakayamuni Buddha. To the left of this (facing Tibet) are the statues of Chenresig the Tibetan deity of compassion, of whom the Dalai Lama is considered a reincarnation and to the right of the gilt Buddha sits Guru Rinpoche, the Indian scholar who introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century.

Next to the Tsuglagkhang is the Kalachakra Temple, built in 1992, which houses a stunning mural of the Kalachakra (Tibetan Wheel of Time) mandala. Sand mandalas are created here on specific days of the Tibetan calendar. (My Mom and Maurer Aunts ? remember the sand mandala we saw together at the Boulder Library when you were out for our wedding?)

Though the Dalai Lama was at his home while we are here, he is not giving a public audience this week so we will unfortunately miss the opportunity to see him speak on this visit.

The Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa is a beautiful little Gompa at the bottom of the steep hill; behind our guesthouse. The main dukhang (prayer hall) houses an image of Sakyamuni and 2 enormous goat-skin drums. There are pillows on the floor and beautifully painted wooden beams along the ceiling. It is bright and colorful and really pleasant to be in.

There is a beautiful 2km walk from McLeod Ganj to the much smaller village of Bhagsu. Bhagsu has a Shiva temple (built in the 16th century) and a waterfall further up from the village. In the village center, next to the Shiva shrine, are cool springs and a public pool, though only boys and young men seem to be enjoying the water while the women sit around the edges looking disinterested in their beautiful and brightly colored saris.

Luke and I continued our hike up the path to the waterfall. Our fellow footpath travelers were especially friendly! As we began our walk, a group of young boys (ages 9-12 (?)) came up to us both and each of them shook our hands and said ?hello? to us about 5x each and then one boy with a camera around his neck asked us something about a picture, we thought he was offering to take our picture with his instamatic camera to sell to us, so we said, ?No, thanks. We have our own camera.? About 2 yards later up the path, a man with a group of girls stops Luke and I and asks us if he can take OUR picture with the girls. We had heard that some Indians like to get photos taken with light-skinned foreigners but we hadn?t run into any opportunities to strike a pose until now! The man then called to the young boy, who had first approached us with his camera and he came running back. Luke and I huddled up with the 3 shy, sari clad girls and smiled for the camera. All the up the path people are saying hello and asking us where we are from. Young, Indian men were very excited to say hello and shake our hands. We meet up with some teenage boys, about 5 of them, and they walked with us for a bit and asked us some questions about ourselves. They were funny and acting a bit nervous and excited about meeting us. We get separated from the boys and a bit later, Luke and I were sitting on the rocks at the first pool under the waterfall. I was snapping some shots of Luke and the waterfall and then I saw the same teenage boys again, they were coming to sit on the rocks too. After a minute, I realize that all them are now sitting around me. I look up and there are now no other women on the rocks besides me. Well, even though I don?t feel any threat from them, my female survival sense does NOT like this ratio of men:me so I stand up and Luke and I go to walk to the top of the waterfall. At the top there was a group of brightly dressed women and children washing clothes and rugs in the high pools of the waterfall. It was such a beautiful scene with the green of the trees, the prayer flags blowing in the wind and women laughing and working together. We took a million pictures of them. At the top of the waterfall there is an outdoor tea (chai) garden called the Shiva Caf?. It is a great little place which is over-grown with flowers and trees, brightly painted slate rocks leaned on every wall, spring water running through it?s center and more prayer flags sending more prayers to the heavens with their every flap in the mountain breeze. We stayed up here for a while, enjoying the pleasant and colorful spot as well some of the colorful characters sharing the cafe with us.

On our way back down, Luke helped me over a rough spot in the path and I jumped down and he caught me. I gave him a big hug and a smooch on the check as thanks and then we heard cheering from across the river. There are 10-15 men, who are bathing in their undies, cheering for Luke! He gave them a big wave and a thumbs-up and they went crazy with cheers and thumbs-up back to him. Indians love romance and having seen Luke get a hug and kiss for his gentleman-like actions is just enough to get them cheering! As we move on down the path, one of the young men from before runs up to us with his camera, out of breath, he asks Luke if he can ?have snap with her?. ?Please Sir, please don?t mind. Please no mind. Please sir.? We happily agree and Luke takes the picture of this young man and me smiling for the camera. It was all a bit strange and innocently funny. It seems this is what they had been trying to get up the nerve to ask us this whole time but had been too shy.

That evening, once back in McLeod Ganj, we had another Hindu family ask to take a picture with both of us. Later, I was getting some shots of the prayer wheels in the evening light when I looked up from the camera because someone was standing REALLY close to me. It was a pretty, middle-aged woman wearing a leaf green sari and trying to squeeze up next to me for a photo! I looked over to the other side of the street and there was a little girl looking a bit nervous and an old woman, with owl-like eyes through her thick glasses, trying to fire the camera but having a difficult time. I started laughing and then just went a stood next to the lady and waited for the flash to go off. Luke and I felt all the photos were the least we could do since we have been snapping photos of everyone who would stand still over the last few months. We can understand the appeal of something so different from ourselves though it feels funny that WE are so different for them. Perhaps they just thought we are funny looking!!

We leave tomorrow for Rishikesh. This is the city where the Ganges leaves the Himalayas and will hopefully prove to be as enjoyable at McLeod Ganj.

From: Amy Fulgham (Miller)

so glad you guys are safe. i didn't realized you were there til I just happened to look at your website today. best wishes and enjoy the mountains. love, Amy

From: mcfly

just because we aren't talking doesn't mean we aren't listening! thanks a ton for the blog. way too awesome. we miss you guys but it feels like we are with you through your blog. i check it daily! xoxo

From: pops

The shots of Mcleod Ganj area make it look like it is actually cold up there, in contrast to Delhi, where temps must have been in the mid-thirties. What's the elevation of the town? And will you be getting any higher?

From: krista

i've been sharing your site with friends. i hope you don't mind. i think everyone's jealous. :)

From: Maria

Hey Guys! Just checked this out the other day for the first time after I got a postcard, Wow, What a trip! Glad your both doing well. Great picts!

From: obie

looks like the guilt trip worked. look at all those fine comments. surely you are feeling the love now.

From: mum

do we count in your personal messages? or do we need to post here? I check on you nearly every day and love every moment of it so from now on I'll tell you so......I loved the one of Nichole rolling the prayer wheels and my favorite in Delhi was Luke in front of your Hotel and the cow, motorcycle, and nice car....what contrasts.....

From: Luke and Nichole

Thanks guys - getting messages is so great! We feel the love. Keep 'em coming and we'll reward you with a bunch of picture uploads! (first guilt, now bribery)

From: Pa

Hey, we are rewarded....Nice shots...what's the elevation of Mcleod Ganj?...have you been able to get out of town as well as looking around the town. The air looks a lot nicer up there, but scary down below.....

From: clarice

Check your site everyday,and of course I'd worry if there was no posting from you. Photos are wonderful for this armchair traveler.

From: ruthie, maria's mom in maine

hi luke and nichole, maria has shared your beautiful photos with me, so i just wanted to say thanks --what a lovely thing for you guys to do. hope you continue to have a wonder-ful vacation , and continue to share it with us "stay-at-homes". i especially like the prayer flags photos.

From: mcfly

guys: just got an email from jonny copp and he was in the same area as you just shortly before the bombs went off last week. he had what sounded like a harrowing adventure on his climb. i'll forward his email on to you. small world. xoxo

From: krista

so excited to see all of the new text! i love waking up in the morning and reading your new stories. the blinged out trucks are awesome.

From: pops

Great new update on you time in Mcleod Ganj, and awesome pics......wonder how the Ganjes mouth will compare. We watched the same new moon as we lingered over dinner in an outdoor cafe here in Canberra

From: mum

those trucks are fabulous!!! Kansas needs a few of those. Nichole, your telling of events on your hike to and from about the requests for photos reminded me of the time in Mexico when Luke was 1 year old with that white hair and everyone wanted to touch him. I later found out that they considered it would bring them good luck to touch a child with "golden" hair. And also a few years ago in China when people wanted their picture taken with Giff, probably because of all the hair on his face. We do look as different to them as they to us...... thanks for sharing your adventure that day in such delightful detail.

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