I just love being able to say I've spent three weeks in the past month on the road. It's what I dreamed about two years ago when I was stuck behind a desk in the middle of the night in Melbourne writing stupid stories about, oooh I don't know, the importance of soy in one's diet, just because there was somewhat of an Asian angle to it. Because of course, Asian soy eaters didn't know that already.
So. I have spent three of the last four weeks on the road. Working backwards: Dubai, London, Dharamsala and Manali. The latter two are in Himachal Pradesh, just north of Delhi. The other two destinations are in somewhat of a northwesterly direction from Delhi.
Dharamsala, or more accurately the satellite town of McLeodGanj, is home to the Dalai Lama and many, many Tibetan refugees. I was only there for a night, but liked it enormously. (So clean! No open gutters! Great coffee at the cafe/photo gallery!) Apart from having a rather welcome tourist infrastructure, I had many enjoyable conversations with lovely warm people. I also had my fortune read by a Tibetan fortune teller, based on my birthdate. I am to "be careful" in the mountains, but will have a long and happy life with my "karmic" husband.
Another highlight was discovering a serene little stretch of road, just beyond the main temple:
I walked up and down this on my own a few times. Most of the time I was on my own, and nary a sound to be heard, just the fluttering of prayer flags in the wind, bells chiming and birds singing. At the end was a little cottage with H.H.D.L. carved into the gatepost; but I doubt it was home to the big man of Dharamsala: there was a child's bicycle in the backyard and someone inside was watching Hindi soaps on telly.