Dharmasala and the bus rides from hell

After Rishikesh, I took a 12 hour bus ride to Dharmasala which arrived at 2am. The bus was a local bus that would stop at every other village and had these sit-up-straight-only seats. The last 2 hours of the trip, where I could hardly stay awake, was of course riddled with constant sharp turns and bumpy roads, as the bus ascended in elevation. When I arrived, a fellow bus passenger offered to drop me off at the main part of the town where there would be lodging, but would have to go look for someplace that was open. I was exhausted and decided to pitch my tent there outside the bus station for a few hours and head out in search of lodging later. The plan worked out well and soon arrived in my hotel with this lovely view.

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The Dalai Lama’s residence and the headquarters of  Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile) are in Dharamsala.

I wanted to come here to have a look at the Dalai Lama’s residence and to be in the midst of a Tibetan community.

I wasn’t able to see the Dalai Lama’s residence, but I did head over to the Dalai Lama Temple Complex. Being in this sacred place with hundreds of practicing monks was incredible. To add to that, the air was cool and the views from the temple were beautiful.

In the complex is a Tibetan museum that talks mostly of oppressed Tibet today and the atrocities committed toward the Tibetans since the Chinese invasion. Its really sad.

The next day, I had a look around the city.

After Dharmasala, I headed for my first destination in Nepal. It was a grueling 48 hours of bus travel with multiple bus transfers. The bus stops were frequent and unnecessary, who wants to eat at 1am and then again at 3:30am? On the first night bus, the driver was blasting music the entire ride, as if to keep himself awake.

The scenery changed dramatically after crossing into Nepal. I hired an old man on a bike to transport me across the border.

Eventually, I made it to my first destination Lumbini, only after having first falsely mistaken a previous city for Lumbini, and getting checked into a hotel, washing up (I was so dirty), discovering from a conversation down the road as I was walking this was not Lumbini, trying and failing at a hotel refund, and getting back on another bus that would indeed take me to Lumbini.

I want to make mention of the extreme poverty I witnessed during the long bus rides. Some of the images I saw will be burned into my memory forever. Its heart breaking to see people living in these situations.

 

 

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