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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Travel
  
  
  
 
Himalaya journey and series by Webmaster on 18 December 2003 5:50pm
 
Hello everyone,

As Michael and the crew are currently trekking around the Himalaya, we thought it would be great to hear your views on the region.

This is the place to tell any stories you may have about travelling in the Himalaya, or discuss with others the natural, religious, commercial, etc. benefits of the region.

We look forward to hearing from all of you...

Cheers,
Webmaster
 
Re: Himalaya journey and series by Godfather on 23 December 2003 1:18am
 

Just the Himalayas?.

I've been a little confused as it sounds like Michael was also in the Hindu Kush,and Karakorum ranges for this new series. I wont blather on about stories,because it would be endless. But i have to say that that particular part of Asia really gets top marks for the friendliness, variety, and sheer bizareness of it all. A fantastic range.

I especially like Pakistan. As Michael will no doubt show in his new series, the people of the NWFP and the northern areas, are some of the friendliest people you can meet in the world. Noble,proud,yet delightfully soft spoken, considerate, and honest people indeed. I have never been cheated in Pakistan. I have felt like a welcome guest on all occasions. The mountain ranges are untouched and you can trek and never see another person for days. The cultural identity and traditions are thick with uniqueness and Islam intertwined with every social action that occurs. I honestly cannot count how many cups of complimentary sweet green tea i've drunk in little shops in Pakistan, as a gift. Great travel destination, a real eye opener which destroys most of the stereotypes in the west about the region, and a real feeling of adventure to go with it. Gets tops marks from me.

As for India, if we want to stick to Himalayan parts only for India,then my favourite states are Kashmir,Ladakh,and Himachel Pradesh. Kashmir although ravaged by problems, is a wonderful place to visit and chill out amongst the serene lakes and English lake district type terrain. Mostly nice people (but with a keen business sense i should add). Ladakh is the mini Tibet,and now that i've since visited the "actual" Tibet, i can agree with those who says that Ladakh possesses more of the Tibetan "stereotypes" than even Tibet itself does thesedays. A jewel in the crown of India, being right at the northermost tip.

Nepal is simply stunning and a great place to travel in. Friendly but cheeky people. Adventure with a little comfort thrown in now and again. Gentle folk. Great trekking. Wonderful Garam Chai. Unfortunately, it's still facing problems due to both Maoists, and the events of Sept11th which cut their tourist industry down to about 20% of it's normal rate. If Osama Bin Laden is "supposedly" fighting for the downtrodden, then he's not thought this out well and has made many enemies in Nepal as his actions have put 1000's of people into poverty, that previously relied on tourism.

Tibet is a wonderful experience no matter how restricted it can be at times. Certainly not the friendliest people (an eye opener that goes against the stereotypes of cute smiling and grinning monks bowing and being submissive). At times, the ethnic people can be downright nasty,childish, and manipulative. Yet, at other times they posess a childlike curiosity and stoicism. I remember a monastery festival i attended at Drepung monastery outside Lhasa. One of the most profound days of my life. A massive Thangka (Buddhist religious tapestry) was hung from a cliff side near the monastery. Growl tones of Tibetan monk's mantra recitals filled the air. Two monks wearing the bizzare shoe horn yellow hats appeared as dots at the corner of the thangka and began blowing those huge tibetan horns. I was overwhelmed by something and burst into tears at the spectacle of it all. Crying for nearly 20 minutes for no "apparent" reason. The incense thick in the air, the prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, the crowds of devotees, the mantras repeatedly echoing round the cliff side. A friend told me later that throughout this, many Tibetans were around me and asking about my well being and if there was anything they could do. Amazing. A day that i will never forget i guess.

Afghanistan is a spot i took the opportunity to visit this year too, while it is open (for the time being). A wonderful trip. Tough but gentle softly spoken people. The Hindu Kush range of mountains which cross into Northwest pakistan, home to villages and tribal traditions centuries old. Honour, respect, and hospitality being the things they hold dear the most. A place stuck in a time warp of tribal traditions and central asian culture. A place not to be missed if you are in the region, for sure.
 
Re: Himalaya journey and series by Helen on 23 December 2003 4:56pm
 
I had a once in a lifetime chance to witness the creation and dismantling of a sand mandala. It happened at the University of CT 2 years ago-- and I found myself crying "for no apparent reason" too. It is just so intense, so beautiful... The tibetan monks then lead a procession to Mirror Lake and dropped the sand into the water as a blessing for the ducks and fish that reside there.
During the time the monks were at UConn, a lot of students and UConn community residents hung prayer flags around their dorms and homes...It was a wonderful sight!
I was very grateful to have witnessed such a ritual so close to home...I am working up the courage (and saving some pennies) to venture out and see these places for myself...I just love reading other people's experiences... Thanks, Godfather...
Helen
 



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