I’m still not feeling 100%, but I am feeling way better than yesterday. The events of the past couple of days have prevented me from really blogging (just a few notes posted from my mobile). Roughly though, here is what happened:
I decided to take the scenic Kangra Valley “toy train” from Pathankot to get to Dharamsala (and Mcleodganj, a few km up the road). It was fairly scenic, but quite crowded and pretty uncomfortable after 6 hours on wooden slats. I did meet a lovely woman named Juliette, and we decided to share accommodation in Mcleodganj. I am glad I took the train but wouldn’t bother with it again, it wasn’t all that.
Once we arrived in Kangra, it was a mad scramble to make it to the local bus stand to take us to Dharamsala. In fact, we had to take a local bus, change to a bus to take us to Dharamsala, then take a shared taxi from Dharamsala to Mcleodganj, where all the action is (so to speak).
Upon arrival in Mcleodganj, my jaw dropped. Although this was out of season, I haven’t seen so many western backpacker type tourists anywhere else in India (even more than Varkala). They were all appropriately dressed in shawls, sandals with socks and Tibetan hippie wear, so that people would know that they were serious spirit seekers and friends of His Holiness.
Juliette and I took about an hour to finally land some decent accommodation. We were lucky that a guy grabbed us to show us his new guesthouse. New hotels and guesthouses (those not yet in Lonely Planet) are a terrific deal if you can find them. The prices are well below market as they are unknown and trying to make a name for themselves. Our place was the first we saw that was clean and didn’t reek of mildew (it is pretty wet up here after all). We have a nice, quiet room and a great view. And the entire place is 200 rupees a night (about 5 bucks).
Then yesterday I went with Juliette to attend a 2 day meditation course at the Tushita Meditation Center. The course was terrific, taught by a wonderful Dutch woman named Hedwig (I swear. Or something close to that. She pronounced it Heedweeccchhh.) Unfortunately, I started to feel the horrible effects of food poisoning around 3 in the afternoon, and by 6pm I was almost dead. I headed back to my room and this morning (at 6am) just wasn’t feeling up to attending day 2. But I highly recommend the course for anyone interested.