The last refuge of the hippies

Trip Start Feb 06, 2005
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Trip End Jul 2005


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Saturday, June 11, 2005

A long term goal of Joe's was to make Mcleod Ganj, a tourist town in the hills above Dharamasala. Not only does it mark the end of the plains, but it's the home of the Dalai Lama in exile as well as the last of the hippies.
They barely exist in the rest of Asia, even Nepal is losing them. Here the old-timers can do what they do best, smoke ganja and talk weird stuff. The new hippies are much the same: they smoke, listen to the same music (never heard so much Bob Dylan in my life), wear the same tie-dye shirts, and dreadlock their hair. The differences are the mp3 players, the email addresses, the digital cameras and the trance music.
We stayed in a little village called Bhagsu, east of busy, noisy Mcleod Ganj. Here the food is excellent, the atmosphere is relaxed and the locals are friendly, which truthfully, is probably because the locals are all Tibetan.
It was here that we sheltered from the rest of India while we organised tickets out of the place. Our original 20 weeks had turned into 3! But we decided to cut our losses and remember our trip as a good one by making Bhagsu the last thing we saw.
There are some very cool things to do in the area. Besides classes in cooking, massage and meditation, the Tibetan government in exile has all its offices here, and with a fair walk through the forest you can get to His Holiness' Department of Medicine and Astrology. Here, with a down payment of U$50 and an 11 month wait, you can get a detailed horoscope.
You can see a movie on a big screen tv. Three days after it came out in cinemas, Star Wars 3 was showing!
You can also visit the new temple, though it's fairly disappointing. Looks more like one of the concrete high schools back home built in the 50s. But Richard Gere's got his photo in the temple cafe! Pierce Brosnan has his in the main pub in Mcleod Ganj. So I guess we were in good company as we whiled away our time between the two.
Anyway when the time came, we tearfully jumped on an overnight bus back to Delhi, where we fought with the bureaucrats in the travel agency all day. Finally, at 5pm I found out that I could get on the plane that night. Even though we weren't able to catch up on any sleep, we were happy as we headed to the airport, away from India.
It was a bit sad though, as after 16 weeks of living in eachothers' pockets, we were going our seperate ways. Joe was heading home, while I continued to stuff around south east Asia. This really is the end of our magical bus journey without a bus. However, i'm going to tack on the last two months of me flying solo anyway.
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