Log Entry 23
The first time I laid eyes on the slopes of the Himalaya and felt its cold, shivering breeze after weeks of tropical heat I felt that we found the real sanctuary. Our long trip to Dharamsala fulfilled every expectation we ever had about the past home of the Tibetan government in exile.
Overview of Dharamsala town in Kangra Valley from the Dhauladhar range Credit: Planemad
We didn't wait for the first shines of the sun to leave our hotel. The rickshaw arrived with us to the train station when the sun decided to wake up so as the thousands of commuters which made our job to buy a ticket even more difficult. Traveling to Dharamsala, which is about 220 kilometers from Amritsar to the north isn't that easy. First you have to take a train which goes about half way and takes two and a half hours and then another three hours of bus ride.
On the way to Dharamsala
Soon after we managed to get the tickets we boarded the train. It was chaotic and since it is a commuter train we ended up travelling on the only one class they had, third class. It wasn't that bad and definitely doable for a few hours, it gave us some insight how people commute in this part of the world. Later on we found in Delhi and Mumbai that this little crowded commuter train was almost empty compared to the ones servicing India's two largest cities. After we got off the train we met a Russian traveler. She was about thirty years old, dusty, obviously on the road for a long while, that is why we surprised when she came over to us and asked whether we can look out for her bag until she visit the toilet. Desperation or just the lack of routine made her leave all her valuable with us, I don't know. She joined us to Dharamsala but for the rest of the trip she was quiet. After about three hours on the scariest bus ride in my life we arrived to our destination. We planned to stay the night here and then continue up north to McLoed Ganj in the morning.
Street of Dharamsala
The weather together with our mood is absolutely great here. Chilled 18 degrees Celsius in the afternoon with obvious signs that it will get much much colder during the night. Dharamsala is small, no crowds and craziness like in Amritsar or other Indian cities we passed so far. Interestingly everyone seemed to chew on "Paan" or as commonly known Betel leaves what turns everyone into a spitting machine. Looking at some of the younger chewers I am pretty sure that there is something else in that Paan apart from Betel leaves as they looked drunk and disoriented. We seen an accident where a guy hit the electric pole with his motorbike, laying on the ground but still conscious. Surely everyone are staring at him, so the other two motorcycles who came from the opposite direction and hit each others while looking at that poor dude on the ground. What happened after shocked both of us. The two guys who just collided started to have a go with the one on the ground and kicking him. We assumed that they both claimed him as the reason for their accident. After this little show we decided to lay flat on our not so clean guesthouse and recharge our batteries for the coming day.