11/5/2010 | Delhi , India

Diwali in Old Delhi

Markets of Old Delhi on the morning of Diwali

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I had connected with a fellow Moorpark-ian, Gene, who was now an ex-pat teaching at an international school in Delhi.  In a “small world” encounter, he had been at Moorpark High the same time as me (though a year ahead), later he took a class on South Asian history from my […]

11/1/2010 to 11/4/2010 | Delhi , India

Tughlaqabad to Nizamuddin a Tour of 14th Century Delhi

Sunset, Tughlaqabad

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With my flight back to the states a day away I had finished my requisite Christmas shopping.  Despite shopping 2 months before Christmas I had managed to get the holiday shopping experiences anyway, as I had unknowingly scheduled my flight on the Indian holiday of Diwali.  In retrospect this unintentional scheduling […]

10/30/2010 to 10/31/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Chamba

Sui Mata Shrine, Chamba

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My final stop in the Chamba Valley, before I headed back to Delhi, was the regional capital of the same name.  Set down in the valley its setting isn’t as impressive as Bharmour’s, but like Bharmour it has an array of impressive temples dating from the 10th to 19th centuries.  The […]

10/27/2010 to 10/29/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Manimahesh: Another Kailash

Manimahesh Kailash

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I had come to the Chamba Valley with the intention of trekking to Manimahesh Lake, a lake holy to Hindus set in the high Himalayas at 4,080 m (13,390 ft), and dominated by Manimahesh Kailash.  I was hoping to add this Kailash to my Kailash collection, which now included the grand daddy of […]

10/25/2010 to 10/26/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Bharmour and the Chamba Valley

6th century Manimahesh Temple, Bharmour

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After 3 years and 9 months to the day on the road in Asia, I had decided to return home to visit my family in California for a few months over Christmas.  I cashed in my remaining frequent flyer miles, and booked my first international flight since I had landed in […]

10/14/2010 to 10/16/2010 | India , Nagaland

Dancing in Shiyong

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Before the long journey back to Delhi, I stuck around in Shiyong to see the inauguration of a new community center built with the help of the Assam Rifles, unit of the Indian Army.   Anxious to boost their image in the region the Assam Rifles had built the community center as […]

10/8/2010 to 10/13/2010 | India , Nagaland

Sunrise at Chingphoi

Chingphoi, Nagaland

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After a bit of rest, and rice beer,* back in Shiyong, Phejin, her sister Bonglih, and I paid a visit to the nearby village of Chingphoi about 3 hours walk away.  In Chingphoi we stayed with another relative of Phjin’s in their traditional bamboo built house.  Perched out on a spur […]

10/5/2010 to 10/7/2010 | India , Nagaland

Shianghawamsa, Nagaland: Life in a Konyak village

Konyak man with traditional tattoos, Shianghawamsa, Nagaland

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One of the reasons I had returned to Nagaland was to visit some of the more remote villages along the Nagaland-Myanmar (Burma) border.  One of Phejin’s cousins had married a man from Shianghawamsa, a relatively remote village close to this northeastern border.  We accompanied the cousin’s sister, still living in Shiyong, […]

9/29/2010 to 10/4/2010 | India , Nagaland

October Skies in Shiyong

View of Shyiong, Nagaland

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I parted ways with Tam, Kip, and Jen hiding out in Shillong while I got a new Nagaland permit, before returning to for more explorations of Konyak country.  It was my third/forth time in Nagaland, depending if you count my permit run to and from Shillong as a new visit or […]

9/1/2010 to 9/15/2010 | India , Nagaland

Harvest Time in Shiyong

Heading back out to the fields after lunch, rice harvest, Shiyong

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Back in Delhi I arranged a Nagaland permit for Tam, Kip, and I as well as another of Phejin’s friends, Jen, a pointless bit of bureaucratic nonsense that would thankfully be abolished in 2011.  I met up with my friends Tam and Kip on the excruciatingly long and inevitably delayed 2 […]

8/30/2010 | India , Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu: Been there done that

Jammu

I spent a day in Jammu and that was about enough, after the cool climate of Ladakh and Kashmir the heat of Jammu was a shock to the system.  My mood was not improved by the overpriced lodging in the city, and I spent longer than I would have liked trekking through […]

8/27/2010 to 8/29/2010 | India , Jammu & Kashmir

To Srinagar: A City Under Siege

Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir

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With Tam and Kip’s departure by air that left me the sole guest remaining at the Tsavo Guesthouse.  I was well looked after by Zangmo and Angchu but most of the restaurants and shops in Leh had closed early for the season due to the exodus of tourists following the flash […]

8/19/2010 to 8/21/2010 | India , Ladakh

Turtuk: Eden on the Pakistani border

Turtuk a Balti village in the Shyok River Valley, on the Pakistan border

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Tam and Kip had given up on a road exit from Ladakh and booked flights to Delhi.  There departure date left them time for one last trip in Ladakh.  We managed to hook up with a brother and sister from Britian and an Israeli girl to share a jeep to the […]

8/15/2010 to 8/16/2010 | India , Ladakh

Zingchen to Stok

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One of the reasons Tam and especially Kip had come to Ladakh was to do some trekking in the high mountains.  The rains that brought such havoc on Leh had also washed away many trails and had swollen rivers to the point that they were impassable, not to mention the logistical nightmare […]

8/14/2010 | India , Ladakh

Stakna to Matho

Stakna Gompa

By the 14th of August the tourists in Leh had thinned out dramatically with most taking flights out town.  The roads to Manali and Srinagar were still closed but the roads to some nearby villages especially to the south had opened and bus services had begun again.  Having been stuck in Leh […]

8/12/2010 | India , Ladakh

Spituk: The New Rimpoche

New Rimpoche eating an apricot at his chairing ceremony, Spituk Monastery

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The day of the flash flood in Leh was supposed to be a day of celebration, it was the day that a young lama the 20th Bakula Rimpoche, Thupstan Ngwang Norbu  would be brought from his birth place in the Nubra Valley to his monastery at Spituk (near Leh) for the […]

8/6/2010 | India , Ladakh

The Flood: Leh 8/6/2010

A ruined house after the flash flood in Leh, August 6 2010

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I remember thinking these houses are not made for this kind of rain.  The flat roofed traditional mud brick construction of many of the houses in arid Ladakh provides excellent insulation against the extremes of hot and cold but is less effective against the force of water.   The rain pounded ferociously […]

7/29/2010 to 8/5/2010 | India , Ladakh

Leh the quiet before the storm

Gonkang Gompa, Leh

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I first met Zangmo and Angchu when my Latvian friend Santa took me to one of the family style dinners held nightly at their Tsavo guesthouse when I was in Leh last year. I was impressed with the warm family atmosphere created by the Ladakhi couple in their guesthouse.  When I […]

7/24/2010 to 7/28/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Monsoon Wedding in Manali

Wedding at the Hadimba (Dhungri) Temple, Manali

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I’ve been through Manali often but I’ve never spent much time in the place.  I’m usually on my way up to Ladakh or Spiti anxious to reach my destination.  Malali has never really attracted me much though it’s a very popular destination for both Indian tourists and western backpackers.  Indians are […]

7/21/2010 to 7/24/2010 | Delhi , India

Still Rebuilding Delhi

Widening Main Bazaar, Paharganj, before the Common Wealth Games

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By the time I finally left Nepal, 4 months after I had arrived, the subcontinent was in the midst of the monsoon.  I have generally managed to avoid traveling much in the Indian monsoon.  A time when city streets are flooded with overflowing sewage, cloths never dry, mold thrives, and mosquitoes […]

4/12/2010 to 7/20/2010 | Nepal

Kathmandu and the Buddha’s Birthday

Bodhnath during Buddha Jayanti celebration of the Buddha's birth

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When Sarah left I moved out of Thamel (the tourist ghetto of Kathmandu) to visit my friend Kili in the “suburbs” of Kathmandu.  Kili had a bad accident shortly after I had left Nepal last fall, leaving him paralyzed from the waste down.  It was hard to see this man who […]

4/9/2010 to 4/11/2010 | Nepal

Kathmandu Again

Bodhnath, Kathmandu

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I like Kathmandu.  Its certainly one of the cities I enjoy most on the subcontinent.  It’s got beautiful old buildings, Buddhist and Hindu temples, bustling markets, and upscale shopping malls.  If you’re looking for other foreigners to swap stories over a few drinks there is no shortage of bars and restaurants […]

4/2/2010 to 4/8/2010 | Nepal

Langtang: a bus ride from hell & a trek to heaven

Sunset at Kyanjin Gompa

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Sarah had wanted to do some trekking in the Nepal Himalaya.  Given the limited amount of time I decided to take her to Langtang, which in my opinion is one of the best short treks in Nepal.  In at as little as three days from Kathmandu you can be at the […]

3/29/2010 | India , Uttar Pradesh

A Day in Varanasi

Varanasi

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With the exception of Delhi, which is “the Rome” of Northern India where all roads or in this case rail lines lead, Varanasi is the Indian city that I’ve been back to most often.  Ironic since it took me until my third trip to India to finally visit this most sacred […]

3/26/2010 to 3/28/2010 | Bihar , India

Back to Bodhgaya

Sri Lankan pilgrims, Bodhgaya

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I smiled politely on the outside but I cringed beneath the facade of my face as a couple of my fellow train compartment companions struggled to close the heavy brass bracelet I had just been given around my wrist.  Sarah looked on with amusement from the bench opposite me.  The 3 […]

3/23/2010 to 3/25/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Return to Haridwar: Even more Kumbh Mela

Naga Sadhu smoking charis, Kumbh Mela, Haridwar

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(warning above galleries contain some nudity, not the good kind)

I didn’t expect to return to Haridwar but having been thoroughly impressed by the atmosphere surrounding the Kumbh Mela.  It was something I thought any visitor to India should see given the opportunity.  So before working our way towards Nepal, via […]

3/22/2010 | Delhi , India

Sunset at Humayan’s Tomb

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I’ve passed through Delhi countless times during my past few years on the Indian subcontinent.  Most of the time I use my stopovers as opportunities to fill up on nihari, kebabs, and Biryani in the maze of streets that surrounds the Jama Masjid in old Delhi.  It’s kind of a rarity when […]

3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part IX: Death of a Sadhu

The bag containing the body of a dead Sadhu sinks in the Gaga.

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As I walked along side one of the channels of the Ganges that ran through the camps on the Eastern edge of Haridwar I noticed a small group of Sadhus gathered by the river.  Some were chanting others just stood watching.  I would find out after the small crowd dispersed that […]

3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part VIII: A Sadhu Lunch

Sadhus at lunch, Kumbh Mela, Haridwar

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A stream a Sadhus passed by me as I sat resting in the afternoon sun, immediately curious as to where all these holy men were headed, I jumped to my feet and followed.  It turned out I had stumbled upon a lunch that was being put on for a particular Akhara […]

3/16/2010 to 3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part VII: Life in the camps

Kumbh Mela, Haridwar

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The wide flood plain that harbors several channels of the Ganges on the eastern edge of Haridwar sprouts into a tent city during the Kumbh Mela.   Temporary Ashrams, Naga Sadhu camps, and tented accommodation for pilgrims from various states cover the barren plains in a patchwork of canvas and color.  I […]