Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More

Tiger’s Nest

In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew on a tiger's back to Tiger's Nest.   Today, Tiger's Nest is a monastery perched on a cliff, 3000 feet above the valley floor. We left our farmhouse at 6:30 in the morning for the short drive, up 1000 feet to the start of the trail that we followed up the cliff.   The hike has four stages: first is a thousand foot, steep climb from about 8000 feet up to 9300 feet. The goal of the first stage is the tea house where you can take a break. It was cloudy and drizzley when we set out. You can take a horse…
More

Outdoor Activities

Saturday Today, we started out with a quick walk around a rural weekend market. Much smaller than the market we saw last Sunday in Thimpu, much less organized, and more interesting. Then we continued with a hike that included a 500 foot elevation gain to (wait for it...) a monastery! It was sprinkling when we set out, then humid, probably about 70 degrees. When we got to the top, we were treated to a panoramic view of the river valley and the surrounding mountains. The sky cleared and the air dried out for the walk down to the river.   Back on the river, we piled into a rubber raft…
More

Yaks and Snowy Mountains

This morning, we left Phobjikha and drove 3-1/2 hours  to Punakha. As we climbed out of the Phobjikha valley, we encountered a yak herder. It was a woman who, as we walked down the hillside, was herding the yaks by throwing stones and yelling. We walked down to her little tent which was made out of blue tarps and yak hair fabric.   She and her husband, who was off on the other side of a tall hill fetching drinking water, are part time nomads. Her mother and her kids live in a permanent home, while the middle generation herds the yaks. She milked a mother yak, who had a…
More

Bhutanese Monastery

This morning we visited a Buddhist monastery. Tibetan Buddhism is pretty complicated and bureaucratic, with lots of hierarchy and rules that likely originated in ancient Tibetan society rather than Buddha's teachings.  The main building is very impressive, several stories tall, lots of hand-carved and brightly painted woodwork. The monks live in little rooms surrounding the main structure. Tenzin stopped two 10 year old novices and chatted with them and we asked them questions. One lives in Thimpu and visits his family when they get time off. The other was pretty much abandoned by his messed up family.  https://youtu.be/emy4i3FvQ3I Then we went inside, climbed two steep ladder/staircases, and got to see…
More

The Road to Phobjikha

Yesterday, we drove 7+ hours, over a 10000 foot pass then down to a valley at 4000 feet, then back up over another 11,000 foot pass to the Phobjikha valley at 9700 feet.  Along the way, we stopped and went into a little settlement of shanties where road workers live. Tenzin chatted with an old woman in her tiny living room. Her walls were papered with newspaper to keep the wind out. It was extremely primitive, makeshift housing while the men were out building the road. A couple of hours later, we stopped at a little town and went shopping for vegetables in a roadside market with vendors in little…
More

Home Hosted Dinner

Okay, so all Bhutanese food does not suck.   Tonight, we, along with fellow travelers Anna from Chicago and Angela from California, were picked up at the hotel by Jigme, a middle aged fellow wearing the Bhutanese garb of a bathrobe tied at the waist, black knee socks and western dress shoes. He drove us 20 minutes or so to their house at the edge of town where we meet his wife Soam and their 18 year old daughter Noam.    They welcomed us and we sat down in the living room to appetizers of toasted red rice, fried lentils and regular old potato chips.   Soam is a housewife…
More

Thimphu

After we landed in Bhutan Sunday, Tenzin and Gembo, the driver, took us on a winding drive through two river valleys to Thimpu, Bhutan's capital. Bhutan has about 800,000 people, over 100,000 live in Thimpu. The city is growing like crazy, with lots of construction. All buildings have to be in traditional style on the outside, but they look like any other construction site on the inside. Although today, Maria pointed out one that was still mostly a skeleton, but had its roofline decorated in the Tibetan/Bhutanese style.   After we got here, Tenzin took us on a walk around the neighborhood. At 7000 feet, the air is fresh and…
More

Along the Himalayas to Bhutan

Up at 3:15 this morning to meet the group for a 4:30am departure from the hotel.   Through the Indian version of silly security then sit and wait for our 7:30 flight. When we asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane, she told us they were all taken, but we could get aisle and center on the left. Better than nothing, we said sure. When we boarded, no one was sitting in the window seat, but he came eventually and asked if we wanted to move over and sit on the window. Turns out, he was in a group of 20 and wanted to move…
More

Been There, Done That

Today, we visited government buildings, the most worthless thing to see on any tour. The British were bad, but left all this nice stuff. There were some colorful birds on the lawns. Then we stopped in a park where Gandhi was cremated. New Delhi is surprisingly clean and organized. Traffic moves fairly smoothly, if a bit crazily. The smokey, animal manure smell of the past is gone. All public transport vehicles are powered by natural gas or electricity, including the tuktuks. There are hardly any beggars. The new (10 years old) metro system is clean and fast, although the fare paying system, in the typical Indian manner, is overly complex.…
More

Hamayun, Dargha and Sikhs

Thursday morning, we moved to THE Park hotel where we'll meet our group on Friday. It's a modern five star hotel that is fraying around the edges. Also full of businessmen doing their futile things and drinking $100 per shot Scotch on expense account. The A/C works really well, but the place doesn't have any ambiance at all.   We did meet Somnath, our India trip leader who chatted with us for a while. We were still on our own as the rest of the group was arriving later in the day. Somnath suggested we visit Hamayun's tomb, which was near the Nizamuddin Durgha that we wanted to see. Som suggested we…
More

Taj Mahal!

Wednesday morning, we were up at 4:15 to get ready for a 5:15 taxi (that's a long time to get ready, you say? We need to stretch and shake out the joints and muscles in addition to having breakfast and tea). Of course, the taxi did not show up on time. We had the security guard call the driver and guide him through the final turns to our obscure location and we were off. The train station was only 20 minutes away, 10 to get to the intersection in front of the station and another 10 to get through the crush of cars, trucks, bicycles, motos, tuktuks, handcarts all trying…
More

First Day in Delhi

After 2 long flights and 10 time zones, we arrived in New Delhi just past midnight on Tuesday, on a journey that started Sunday. After collecting our luggage and passing through immigration, which included a silly, malfunctioning fingerprint reader, we exited into a chaotic hubub of people waiting for passengers. One guy had a sign with Maria's name on it, so that part worked! We had arranged a ride from the airport with our AirBnB. The guy took us on the 45 minute drive to the apartment in the center of New Delhi. Third floor and mercifully, air conditioned. We conked out.   Up at 6:45 to get into Old…
More