Final Notes and Lessons from My Trip to India

On my second last day in Delhi, I decided to visit Gandhi Memorial Museum on my own. However, it was an unfortunate day for me. After coming out from Race Course station, I took the wrong turn and couldn’t find the museum after walking for long time under the hot sun. I was almost dehydrated when I walked back to metro station. Then I bought water and continued my journey based on the direction given by metro staff. At the museum, I tried to capture photos with my camera and realized that I left the battery in my hotel! Oh no, I was carrying the bulky camera under the sun for so long and now I couldn’t use it. So I just make use of my phone to capture a couple of photos. From the texts in the museum, I learned that Gandhi cared a lot for the poor and for India. Albert Einstein praised him too. I really admire him. Continue reading “Final Notes and Lessons from My Trip to India”

Farewell to Elena, Exploring Red Fort, Bahai Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, Akshardham, Great India Place

After our chaotic leg in Varanasi, we made our way back to Delhi again for one last time. From the airport, we weighed the pros and cons of taking prepaid cab and meter cab,  and eventually decided to take meter cab. We ended up paying Rs 760 taxi fare, plus Rs 80 parking fee, which I thought was expensive. I would suggest visitors to take prepaid cab instead. In Majnu ka Tilla, we checked-in into hotel, ate and hung around Majnu ka Tilla for the rest of the day.

On the next day, which is Elena’s last day in Delhi, we went to Rama Krishna Asharam Marg for last minute souvenirs shopping. We had lunch at Connaught Place before going back to our hotel. At night, after our dinner, Elena did her final packing and bid farewell to me. Tenzin sent her to airport.

The next morning, I woke up and felt lost. I didn’t have any plan for the day and I was all alone in Delhi. Continue reading “Farewell to Elena, Exploring Red Fort, Bahai Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, Akshardham, Great India Place”

Varanasi: Banaras University, Shree Vishwanath Temple, Durga Mandir, Bharat Mata Mandir, Walking Along Ghats and Ganges River, Boat Tour

Varanasi was a chaotic leg of our trip, full of unexpected incidents and difficult people. Firstly, our train from Agra to Varanasi arrived 7 hours late at Varanasi. The original arrival time was 10am, but it arrived at 5pm. There goes 1 day of our total 2 days in Varanasi. Secondly, we didn’t choose prepaid rickshaw (cost Rs 75 in 2011), but choose independent rickshaw instead to save Rs 5, he offered us Rs 70. We told him we wanted to find accommodation in Assi Ghat, and he brought us to MKP Guesthouse (we found out the next day that MKP Guesthouse is actually near Shivala Ghat and I felt cheated by the rickshaw driver). The rate of the room was Rs 350 per night, we felt it was reasonable so we took it.

Just after we expressed our interest to stay there, the guesthouse owner demanded full-payment. It was a foreign concept for us, usually we pay upon check-out. We responded that we do not anticipate about paying in full when we check in, so we don’t have enough cash. The guesthouse owner said that his nephew can accompany us to the money changer. We complied with their request anyway. Continue reading “Varanasi: Banaras University, Shree Vishwanath Temple, Durga Mandir, Bharat Mata Mandir, Walking Along Ghats and Ganges River, Boat Tour”

New Delhi to Agra, Visit Agra Fort and Taj Mahal in One Day

We woke up at 3am in the morning, and rushed out from the hotel at 4am. Tenzin was our cab driver. Our train from Delhi to Agra was scheduled to depart at 5.25am, but it was delayed by 15 mins. Delay is quite common in India, and 15 mins is considered a short delay. We arrived at Agra at 9am. Outside the train station, there were many rickshaws. We walked to the prepaid taxi booth, and paid Rs 650 for a full day, non AC, taxi with a driver and a guide. After having breakfast at Hotel Maya, we went for our first destination: Agra Fort. We bought a combined ticket of Agra Fort and Taj Mahal for Rs 1000. Agra Fort is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was built in red sandstone, on the bank of Yamuna River. White marbles were further added later on. Agra Fort is not far from  Taj Mahal, it is even possible to see Taj Mahal from Agra Fort. Continue reading “New Delhi to Agra, Visit Agra Fort and Taj Mahal in One Day”

Back in New Delhi, Visiting National Zoological Park

There was an argument between the driver and passengers of the bus that I rode from McLeod Ganj to New Delhi. They were arguing in Indian language, probably Hindi. We did not understand the language but we understand that the passengers were complaining that they had paid for deluxe bus, which comes with air conditioner, but there was no air conditioner. The driver said something like the air conditioner wasn’t working, then the passengers were demanding for refund. After few rounds of arguing and yelling, eventually the driver turned on the AC and continued driving. We were just like: Wow. This is definitely a really interesting encounter for me. As the bus drove on, we continued our sleep as well. Our bus arrived at Delhi at 6.30am, it only took 12 hours compared to our 13-hour journey from Delhi to McLeod Ganj.

The first thing we did after arriving at Majnu Ka Tilla is to check in Hotel Ga-Khyil, the same hotel that we stayed in during our first day in Delhi. After checking in, we felt extremely hungry, we asked the hotel receptionist how to go to the nearest McDonald’s. Continue reading “Back in New Delhi, Visiting National Zoological Park”

Last Day in McLeod Ganj

The day has finally come. The day we left a small town that has touched our heart and soul in so many ways. We have been a part of a wonderful community in McLeod Ganj. We volunteered, we made friends, we listened to and shared stories, we learned what we like to do, we tasted freedom, we were surrounded by snow capped mountains, we saw Dalai Lama, we had the time of our lives. But all things come and go. We had to move on.

We had final breakfast in Carpe Diem. Elena went for her last conversation class with Sangmo, while I finished up my packing and souvenirs shopping. We had final lunch at Jimmy’s together with Rabsel. We told Rabsel of our plan after McLeod Ganj. I also told him that I would spend a week alone in New Delhi after Elena fly back home; I asked him if he knows anyone in town that can accompany me because I’m rather scared to explore New Delhi on my own. Continue reading “Last Day in McLeod Ganj”

Visit to Sangmo’s House, Exploring Dharamkot and Bhagsu Waterfall

On a fine Saturday, I was introduced by Elena to her conversation buddy, Sangmo. Sangmo is a Tibetan nun who is eager to learn English. Elena converses with Sangmo daily, except Sunday. The three of us had lunch at Nick’s. Then we walked to Sangmo’s house. Her house was a simple 1 room house, with a few modern electrical appliances like rice cooker and stove. No fridge, no TV, no fan though. I was so humbled by how simplicity can bring so much happiness in one’s life. She’s the happy-go-lucky type of woman. I promised to send her postcards when I’m back in Singapore. Continue reading “Visit to Sangmo’s House, Exploring Dharamkot and Bhagsu Waterfall”

The Routine, The Circling of Namgyal Monastery, The Plan for Traveling to Other Part of India

By the eighth day in McLeod Ganj, we have pretty much come to a routine. Most of the time, we eat breakfast at Snow Lion. After breakfast, I would go to Tushita Meditation Centre for daily guided meditation, and Elena would have 1-to-1 conversation with a nun (assigned by LHA). We would then meet for lunch. After which, I would continue with my daily volunteering for computer class at LHA, while Elena does her own thing. In the late afternoon and night, we would find some activity to do, or simply just rest. It felt great to have a routine! Continue reading “The Routine, The Circling of Namgyal Monastery, The Plan for Traveling to Other Part of India”

Daily Meditation at Tushita Meditation Centre, Sick Second Time

Two days after my visit to Tibetan Delek Hospital and consuming the medicine, I felt better and stronger. I decided I’m ready to take on more activities. I’ve been hearing from people that there is free daily meditation class in the morning. Thus, after breakfast, I set off to Tushita Meditation Centre. Continue reading “Daily Meditation at Tushita Meditation Centre, Sick Second Time”

Dalai Lama’s Teaching, Tour Around Dharamsala, Falling Sick

We were pretty lucky. We were in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, when Dalai Lama was scheduled to be teaching there. We were not aware initially and we learned about it from people that we met. If you are interested to attend Dalai Lama’s teaching, check his schedule from his official website. Continue reading “Dalai Lama’s Teaching, Tour Around Dharamsala, Falling Sick”