Final Thoughts, Incredible India

 

Touring Sikkim

I had to see India for myself, and am glad I did, but it was a challenge. There were moments of awe like seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time, and moments of being utterly fed up with the incessant honking of car/jeep horns from Darjeeling to McLeod Ganj. Why take on the heat, unsanitary conditions, noise, and unscrupulous hustlers? To savor authentic Indian curries, enjoy the friendly offers of chai, see more of the Himalaya, and the spot where the Buddha became enlightened.

And while it might not be my next destination after this trip, the draw of exploring Goa, Bombay, Pushkar, Udapur, the deserts of Rajhastan, and the high-altitude plateau of Buddhist Ladakh (to say the least) will remain with me.

Darjeeling

Highlights –

  • the views on the share jeep ride to Darjeeling
  • drinking Darjeeling tea in Darjeeling
  • views of Mt. Kanchenjunga
  • riding the Himalayan Toy Train
  • seeing a snow leopard
  • hanging out with Natalie, Cameron and Sarah
  • share jeep ride to Gangtok, Sikkim
  • visiting Tsomgo Lake and riding a yak
  • 3-day tour of north Sikkim
  • first overnight train ride in India
  • sitting under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya
  • staying at the Tibetan Monastery
  • visiting Sarnath
  • walking along Varanasi‘s ghats at sunset
  • seeing and walking around the Taj Mahal
  • touring Agra Fort with Laura and Dan
  • watching kites being flown from the rooftops in Agra at sunset
  • arriving in McLeod Ganj

Hot, hot Varanasi

  • listening to a teaching by H.H. the Dalai Lama and seeing his eyes, smile, and wave up close and personal
  • reuniting with Steve and Marie
  • meeting Anastasia, Olga, Ron, Fred, and Ian
  • Tibetan cooking classes
  • 4-day camping trek to 4,320-meter Indrahar Pass
  • trying Tibetan massage and acupuncture
  • open mic nights at Khana Nirvana
  • attending the public audience with the 17th Karmapa
  • getting my first shave with a straight razor at a barber shop
  • celebrating Steve’s 27th birthday at Carpe Diem
  • walking around Amritsar‘s Golden Temple
  • witnessing the India-Pakistan border ceremony
  • early morning auto rickshaw rides to the train station (Bodhgaya, Amritsar)
  • visiting Jama Masjid (mosque), Gandhi Memorial, and War Memorial in Delhi
  • metered rickshaws¬†
  • meeting Neil and his family
  • watching the live Euro 2008 final at Regent’s Blues
  • dining at world-renowned Bukhara
  • the air-conditioning at Delhi’s airport
  • the sunsets

Fun at Agra Fort

Lowlights –

  • overpaying for the majority of rickshaw and taxi rides
  • the constant need to ignore touts and hustlers (less of an issue in the Buddhist/mountain regions)
  • the crazy (scary) 20km jeep ride on the second night of the north Sikkim tour
  • coming face to face with the poor beggars, especially the children, disabled, and women carrying babies
  • the heat, especially in Bodhgaya and Varanasi
  • the necessary bed rest for the few days after my trek
  • my first failure to complete a dare (rooftop train ride)

Spices for sale

Eating –

CHAI, chai, chai!!!!, darjeeling/ginger/mint teas, paneer butter masala, malai kofta, butter naan, rice, momo’s, eggs, scrambled/omelets/hard-boiled and toast, banana porridge

Playing with perspective in Agra

# of Nights Couchsurfing –

0

Displaying the Tibetan flag atop Indrahar Pass

Average Cost Per Day –

$43 (the lowest for me in any country so far)

Bird's eye view of a Delhi intersection

Comments

    • says

      Thailand is fantastic. The islands and beaches I’ve seen so far are as beautiful as the magazine photos I had taped to my refrigerator at home. And I feel like I earned this all much more because of the time I spent in Nepal and India. Getting to Thailand, I felt a great sense of accomplishment actually. :)

    • says

      Thailand is fantastic. The islands and beaches I’ve seen so far are as beautiful as the magazine photos I had taped to my refrigerator at home. And I feel like I earned this all much more because of the time I spent in Nepal and India. Getting to Thailand, I felt a great sense of accomplishment actually. :)

  1. Rod Miller says

    Did you get sick in India?

    Great Pictures! I only see eight. Is there a place where we can see all of them?

  2. Rod Miller says

    Did you get sick in India?

    Great Pictures! I only see eight. Is there a place where we can see all of them?

  3. says

    I’m very excited about Thailand… whether it will live up to the hype of the magazines that you’re speaking about…

    Sorry to see India go though, despite the hassles you had there you had some AMAZING experiences. I’ll definately keep it on my ‘to travel’ list.

  4. says

    I’m very excited about Thailand… whether it will live up to the hype of the magazines that you’re speaking about…

    Sorry to see India go though, despite the hassles you had there you had some AMAZING experiences. I’ll definately keep it on my ‘to travel’ list.

  5. Pallavi says

    If you ever plan to go to India again…dont miss Ladakh…especially the Zanskar valley..n be sure to hire the local Zanskari guides…dont go to the tour operators in Manali or Leh..they always overcharge…n take away the source of Income from Zanskari men..Manali to Leh road trip is another high point….

  6. Pallavi says

    If you ever plan to go to India again…dont miss Ladakh…especially the Zanskar valley..n be sure to hire the local Zanskari guides…dont go to the tour operators in Manali or Leh..they always overcharge…n take away the source of Income from Zanskari men..Manali to Leh road trip is another high point….

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