Friday, September 24, 2010

Green, Greener, Sikkim

As well as wet, wetter, Sikkim.

Last few days I was experiencing Sikkim, really tiny part of India's Himalayas squeezed between Nepal and Bhutan. Almost 80% of population here are Nepalis that were brought by British in 19th century, the minority of the population are the Bhutias (come from Tibet in 14th century) and Lepchas (come first, probably from Far East). According to my local guidebook, official languages of the province are: Nepali, English, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo, Magar, Rai, Gurung, Sherpa, Tamang, Newari, Sunuwar. I wonder if there is any one that knows all official languages of this small province... Unfortunately only part of the Sikkim is open for tourist, it is very difficult or even impossible to explore North of Sikkim.

Rainbow umbrella in wet Sikkim.
For the first four day trek I joined Wiet and Koen. We wanted to explore 'tourist' restricted areas, so we needed to organize a local guide. The day before we started I decided to buy my first ever umbrella. My first choice was not very good... umbrella got completely ruined after first opening. So I went for my second possibility - rainbow umbrella. And this time it was an excellent choice. The first day of our trek we experienced rain for most of the time. For 6-7h we were hiking almost constantly in rain. Initially I wanted to wear my rain jacket, but it was so warm, and so humid that I was getting wetter more from the sweat than from the rain.... so for whole day I was hiking with rainbow umbrella trying to convince sun to come out. The biggest problem I had with my hiking shoes that got leaking and were "drinking water" like crazy. At the end of the day my shoes triple their weight!!! Despite of the rain, for the whole time of our trek the dog Rodos, which was very similar to my parents dogs, was accompany us. We hiked through a jungle, crossed four big rivers and many small and big waterfalls.

Taj Yoga

Taj Yoga
After few days travel I arrived to Rishikesh, which is claimed to be 'Capital of Yoga' ever since Beatles came here in '60s. Here I met Aneta, my old friend from university and she convinced me to try Yoga for the first time . I have to say I like it to certain extend and I hope I will try it more in future.

Wondering around Rishikesh we come across the ultra beautiful waterfall under which one could swim. The scenery was almost like from the paradise maybe except.... to refreshing temperature of the water. No photo of this scenery, since I did not have my camera with me that time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Surfing the Himalayas from Leh to Manali

Lift at the back of army car.

From Leh I wanted to go South to Manali. After the floods the road was open but it was much longer than the old road, since the floods destroyed 20 km of the old road. There was detour which make the road much longer and much more bumpy.
This would mean two days for 12h/a day in a "roller-coaster" bus (instead 16h by the old road). I almost decided to go by this bus but on the way to buy a ticket I met Maciek from Poland. We immediately agreed to try to hitchhike together to Manali, preferably on the big lorry - TATA next morning, which would be a bit slower than the bus, but would be more comfortable and I would have for sure more space for my long legs.

Dall on our shoes.

Next morning we met shortly after the sun rise and tried to go in the direction of Manali. Unfortunately none of the big trucks was going in this direction. I guess the the quality of the detour did not allow the big lorry to go this road. But nevertheless we decided to go and with 4 different cars: with Tibetan Monk, bus, with solders, on the lorry full of sand (which was like surfing in Himalayas),

Missing road.
we managed to get to Upshi to the place where the detour to Manali starts. Than we changed our plans and decided that it is much nicer to hike around the old, destroyed road to Manali than to drive so many additional hours in the bus. So from Upshi we departured in direction to Rumtse (around 31km). The road was very beautiful and for the first 5 km we were lucky to get a lift with the army truck which was bringing the food for the road workers. Well... they did not manage to get all the food, since quite a bit of dall, which was in a simple bowl end up at the floor and our shoes because the road was really bumpy. The work on the repair of the road was in

This was luckily not our TATA.
progress, and if in India someone says that there is no 20km of the road, this literally mean there is no 20km of the road. In our case in the place where there supposed to be a road there was a river. So the way involved quite a bit of climbing around the non-existing road, over the river. Luckily at the end of the day we manage to reach Rumtse.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Julley, Julley, Julley

After quite a few weeks I am finally leaving Ladakh. Julley is the key word in Ladakhi language, which serves the most of the purpose word for hello, goodbye, and thank you. So Julley Ladakh, but especially Julley to all Ladakhi and Tibetan people that I come across on my way.

Tomorrow I will try to get to Manali by the Roller coaster - road, which can take 2 or 3 days.

Smell of Tibet

My monastry map.

Around Leh I visited quite a few monasteries. For the last trip I received from the local guide a hand drawn and very detailed map of the most interesting monasteries West of Leh as well suggestion about the best home stay in every village. Every monastery was located in the distance of one day hike from each other.

The second night of the trek I stayed in Mangyue with the family that was taking care about the very monastery and they had keys to some additional monastery rooms which are usually not available for tourists.

Books, very old books.
In one of the rooms I came across amazing collection of old books. This was the first time that I was exposed so closely too old books. I could smell their age, I could fell them with every of my senses. I really imagine that Tibet has to smell a bit similar. I hope I will manage to visit Tibet one day.