Monday, 17 October 2011

Life in McLeod Ganj...

So here we are in McLeod Ganj – having escaped the hectic cities for a while we've found a place that seems to have the perfect combination of lots going on yet plenty of time for rest and relaxation. We're staying at the Kunga Guest House – seemingly a firm favourite for backpackers – in a £3 a night room with the most amazing view that will be our home until the end of October.

Unfortunately when agreeing to a shared bathroom we hadn't realised it was also shared with the restaurant upstairs – a little weird and awkward when you go for a shower and there's a queue of customers waiting outside to use the loo! Even so it's worth it for the room and is in a good part of town. We've been warned not to leave our windows open when we're out as chances are we could return to a monkey in our room...

McLeod has a 3 way mix of Indian people, backpackers and Tibetans who have come here to flee the Chinese occupation and follow in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama, who lives just down the hill. The Tibetan community are well established now and there seems to be a never ending choice of cafés and places to eat. Some fully fledged restaurants, others little tea huts on the side of the road.

Of course wanting to support the local people we're fulfilling our duties and are fully embracing both, spending many an hour sipping Chai and working our way through the large number of restaurants available. It would be rude not to when an evening meal for the both of us costs about £2.

As well as an overwhelming amount of food choices, there are also daily talks, film showings and classes to get involved with. We feel really settled into life here and have made some new friends who are around for a while so have decided to stay for at least the next 2 weeks. John's signed up to a cookery course tomorrow where he'll learn to make Momo's – a type of Tibetan dumpling filled with yummy goodness. I'm hoping he'll bring one back for me to try.

Next week we'll be joining thousands of monks, nuns, Tibetans and tourists to attend a series of lectures given by the Dalai Lama in the main temple. I can't quite believe our luck that it has fallen on the time we are here...what a spiritual time we are having! We're going to try and swat up before hand so we can hopefully at least understand a bit of what's going on, otherwise we'll just take cues from others and smile and nod at the right times.

We're also now teaching 'intermediate' English every day, mainly to Tibetan monks. I'm not really sure how it happened – we popped into a voluntary organisation on our first exploration around town and the next thing we know, we were down to start teaching the next day. We've done two lessons so far – both of which seem to have gone well (from our point of view – fingers crossed the students agree). Unfortunately only 5 turned up for today's class – we found out afterwards it was a special Tibetan spring clean day so most of our students were at home or around town in their marigolds.  We're learning that things chop and change quite quickly around here.

From tomorrow I'll also be doing daily individual conversation classes with a monk named Tsering – I'm guessing just drinking more tea and correcting his pronunciation, which I'm sure my dad will find amusing. Apparently he's pretty high up on the monk ladder so here's hoping for some good karma coming my way!

Finally a couple of things on John's behalf...firstly this incredible camper we saw yesterday - surely someone has to be living in it, it's big enough for a family of 10...

And secondly, he's been completely amazed by the plumbing that goes on around here, and it's not hard to see why.....


  1. Sounds amazing!! So glad you guys are having a good old spiritual time of it. Much love, Nell xx

  2. did you take your monsters with you? If so can you take some pictures of them in nice places for me? I miss you both, looks like you're having a swellegant time, lots of love h xx

  3. Hey guys :-) Thanks for the comments, Helen I'm sorry but the monsters are keeping Roo (the van) company over winter...didn't want to lose them. Miss you too! Hope everything's good? Email me your news soon :-) Lots of lovexxx