A Travellerspoint blog

Nalanda

We had a bit of a sleep in and lazed around the hotel room until almost 8which was nice after the big day we had yesterday.after breakfast we were back on the dreaded bus for a trip to ragjir hill and nalanda monostary.there was some sort of miscommunication as we went straight to nalanda and instead of it taking 1 hr it took 3 we have no idea why we keep believing narbu lol...seriously though he is great fun and me,kat and kim have really bonded with him.
There was a bit of excitement when we spotted one of the workers trying to get a cobra out of the grass, he ended up getting it, bashing it on the head and flciking it -was her excitng!
Nalanda was interesting but not really our thing, kim and i ditched the group so that kim could buy some bracelets for jade, we told narbu we were going and to keep it a secret and then dodged and weaved Indiana Jones style to get out the gates, I couldn't stop laughing the whole time.
Once again kim and i were asked if we could be in photos we decided it must be because they can tell we are awesome, either that or they can tell we are silly enough to do anything.
My favourite thing about India is talking to the locals they are so lovely and happy to have a chat, when they find out you are from Australia they want to talk about cricket which is a bit of a worry for me as I don't know much about cricket. One guy today told me Alan border is the best and i said my husband thinks the same. While I was waiting for kim to buy her bracelets I said oh it is hot I could do with a fan and this guy said come, come and led me into his shop where he had the ceiling fan on! He was so pleased with himself and it certainly made me happy as it is quite hot here..reminds me of cairns in autumn. There were a lot of beggars at nalanda and many of them were children, they were very cute and you really would love to buy them a treat but you just can't as you would be swamped by a crowd and it is not good to encourage them. This one little girl had the greatest smile and was very persistant and i was smiling at her and saying no no and she saw the bus coming to get us and so with a big smile she said to me oh here is your bus goodbye lol really wish I could have given her something :(
We didn't get to stop at ragjir hill which is a shame as we took too long at nalanda am really over being on a bus and am happy we won't see one now until the last two days of the trip.
We had dinner at the hotel and after dinner norbu too, us for a walk around the block to buy some sweets which were very yummy, bodhgaya is not as safe as Dharamshala so we will probably only explore it during the day.
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Posted by sonya13 09:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

Getting to Bodhgaya

There is nothing guaranteed more to bond you with fellow travellers than a 15 hour bus trip! The trip from Dharamshala to New Delhi was much the same as the first bus trip except for the fact that we decided to have more fun with it, this was mostly thanks to a great chick we have met on this tour called Kat,she has a great spirit,a cheeky nature and had us in fits of laughter the whole trip well for the first 12hours after that you are running on hysteria. Still India is endlessly fascinating and it was great to get to know some of the group better, we told stories listened to music, napped and in between had a couple of breaks at some very funky roadside places. We got to know our tour guide Norbu a bit better too and he is loads fo fun and a great source of information, I think he likes to hang with us because we have a laugh and give him cheek..oh and we usually have snacks :-)
By the time we got to our hotel I was so tired I was shaking and i had vertigo from being on the bus and we were hungry so we noticed the hotel had their little cafe open with a buffet and so just headed in and loaded up a plate only to be shocked by the bill 1000 Rupees now keep in mind this is only about $18 Australian but in India this is soooo expensive, lesson learned ask how much first and try not to eat at hotels as they are more expensive.
After dinner I just crashed this was the most tired I had been since coming to India and we had to be up at 6.30 to catch a flight to Patna.
We woke up a bit before the alarm, I could have gone back to sleep but that couldn't happen so off we went to brekky and then back in the bus for the tri to airport. To get into the airport you need to have your passport and plane ticket for that day, so the only people in the airport are travellers. Kim and i got some more cash out from the ATM and went to the toilet where an attendant opened the cubicle door, flushed the toilet and wiped the seat - yes I tipped her as it was the cleanest tlilet I had been in since arriving.
To get through security ylunhave to put all your bags through the screening like Australia but you then go to a different line, one for ladies and one for gents where you go into a cubicle and a female security guard does the wand thing. On the plane we are all seated all over the place and i end up sitting next two Indian ladies in full sari's who were lovely. The flight is only a 2 hour flight but they fed us, gave us ice cream and a cup of tea! Fastest flight I have ever been on which is good as the 1 1/2 hr bus trip ended up being 5 hrs lol
On the way we took a detour and saw the mighty Ganges we had to walk about 500m to get there and they obviously don't get a lot of westerners as we had quite a crowd joining us and they all wanted to take photos of us with them on their mobile phones, we felt like rock stars although they were a bit shocked when. I asked them for 10 rupees for the photo until I told them I was joking :-) the walk was quite confronting as the smell was horrendous and we were side steppkng human faeces and god knows what else.
The Ganges is truly awe inspiring even with all the rubbish and filth on the banks and i am grateful we got to see it.
We finally arrived at bodhgaya at about 6.30 and put our bags away and headed done for a delicious dinner. We are staying at a Guesthouse that is run by Tibetans and it is primitive but fairly comfortable we are for the rest of the trip. The photos below are frlm the road trip...
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Posted by sonya13 08:25 Archived in India Comments (0)

Norbulingka

Today kim and I decided to go the long way to breakfast and nearly got lost, after a walk that would rival mt baldy and asking three different people including two monks we found our favourite little cafe and ordered breakfast. We then headed back to the hotel and got ready to go to Norbulingka Norbulingka Institute We were lucky enough to be travelling with Jan who has a strong relationship with the organisation and so we had a lovely welcome and a personalised tour of all the facilities. When we arrived we were given a cuppa and a piece of cake in the most beautiful and peaceful setting, such a sharp contrast to the rest of India which is very noisy and busy. We then proceeded to have a tour of the place. The institute was created to preserve Tibetan art and culture and they hand make everything on the premises while providing employment to many refugees. They are a self sufficient organisation and the items they create are exquisite but very expensive for India. Having said that having seen first hand the level of detail that goes into the items they are worth every cent! After viewing the different workshops and the beautiful Buddhist temple we had a traditional Tibetan lunch which was absolutely delicious. We then went shopping where I bought a few things but didn't make a decision on whether to purchase a thangka which are around $900 we have been told by Jan we can order one and pay it off and she will arrange to get it to Australia but it is a big purchase and I am not sure I can justify it at this stage.
When we got back we visited a massage shop and booked appointments for a massage that night witht this funny little man called mahinder kapoor and went to dinner at a very cute little Tibetan place where the food was once again huge and delicious.
The massage was amazing I feel fantastic and very tired so the blog is short and sweet will let the photos tell the story.
On the way to the institute we passed the dalai lama in his car and he is going to bless my Mandala bracelet and little buddah s feel very blessed and happy :-)
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Posted by sonya13 17:50 Archived in India Comments (0)

Free Day

sunny 23 °C

I took a sleeping pill last night so woke up feeling great after a slow start we went down for our final breakfast at our favoruite cafe outside the Dalai lama's palace. We got a photo of our new friend Dolma who also gave us her email address and asked us to add her on Facebook. While sitting at the cafe we were captivated by the little baby monks these very cute boys in their robes and a young Tibetan guy sitting at the next table struck up a conversation with us about Tibet and how he came over here, it was lovely talking to a local and we were very impressed when he told us he had met the Dalai lama a few times. After breakfast we went shopping and we shopped for about two hours getting gifts and exploring all the different items available, everything is sooo cheap and so we bought quite a bit of stuff. We were a bit worried about getting it all home so we decided to post some of it back.
Now that was an adventure all on its own! To post something in India you need to get the item hand sewn in a calico bag, which is then sealed in strategic places with wax. This was easy and cheap, the guy then tells us we need to get two photocopies of our passport and fill out a form. So we go back to the hotel and get two copies of our passport and head back to the post office and ask for the customs form only to be told the guy that sews the bags has the forms, so back to the guy who sews the bags who the tells us he only has one form left so can we get a copy! Back to the hotel we go and get a copy of the form and wait in line at the post office to post the parcel...so after an hour and about $60 later we have posted our stuff back, it should be home in a week ... fingers crossed.
After the post office debacle we have lunch at Jimmy's which has a rooftop where you can dine which was great fun and once again we bonded with the waiter.. it is a gift haha..I had the best dessert I have ever had in my life a Banofee pie!
After lunch we went back to the hotel to meet up with the group and head to a meditation centre which is 10 mins up the road, we had made friends with a taxi driver named Ahmed who saw us and waved us over and off we went. The meditation centre was soooo peaceful..there were people all over meditating and reading and sleeping in the sun... what a great place, I could see myself spending a week there just chiling. Venerable Namdag did a short teaching and a 5 minute meditation before we headed back to the hotel. It was a love afternoon. Kim and I went and had another look around d and did a little more shopping and I spotted some little meditation cushions for 150 rupees so we went to buy them and the shopkeeper puts his finger on my forehead and said "you are teacher" freaked me out a bit, he then started talking about 67 and how my beauty comes from my mother and I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say but it was pretty cool :-) IMG_2232.jpgIMG_2235.jpg
We were heading back to the hotel when I spotted some converse shoes and though oooh they might be cheap and went to buy some but the Tibetan shookeeper said he was sorry but he was closing because he had to get ready for candlelight vigil as two Tibetans had immoliated themselves this afternoon, I was shocked at how sad this made me, I have really grown to love and respect the Tibetan people over the past week and I took this news personally. We watched the parade of candles go past as the Tibetans sang and kim and I went down to the ceremony and were very moved by the story.
We left the ceremony as I was supposees to do an online test for uni but gave that up as a bad joke as it was just too hard, it was only worth 20% so I will just have to hope the rest of my assessments will be enough :/
We then packed our bags ready for the next leg of our journey and am hoping for another good nights sleep for the 14 hr bus ride tomorrow!
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Posted by sonya13 09:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

Tenzin Palmo

The nunnery

sunny 23 °C

There was a massive storm here last night with huge claps of thunder and lightning and when we woke up we saw that it had snowed quite heavily in the mountains. We also figured out why we could hear every noise from the street in our hotel room, one of our windows is missing the glass!! It does have a screen though so hopefully that is enough to keep animals out especially the monkeys who are apparently quite destructive here. Our guide norbu who is just lovely was telling us a story about a monkey in Delhi who snatched a baby and carried it up to the power lines and was throwing it to anther monkey back and forth! Can you imagine!! I asked if the baby was OK and he said yes he ended up with a fractured arm as when they dropped it there was such a large crowd below trying to rescue it they managed to catch him. Crazy place this India.
We had breakfast at our new local hangout and then headed to the temple to meditate which I actually managed to do, it was very brisk this morning and you ciukd feel the snow in the air. On the way back from the temple we spotted this groovy little stationary shop and kim and I went a bit crazy buying some very cool bits and pieces. I then spotted a beautiful quilted rug with elephants on it and decided I needd to own it, after a bit if bartering I managed to get him to sell it to me for 2000 rupees which is about $35
We then rushed back to the hotel as it was getting close to 10am and that is when we were heading to the Dongyu Gatsal Long nunnery which is run by the venerable Tenzin Palamo. We piled into a tourist car which is just a fancy name for a taxi and headed to the nunnery which is about 1.5 hr drive away, the trip was just as crazy as the bus trip but by this stage we are used to the mental way indians drive! We stopped for lunch on the way and kim and I learned that snack food in India means a small meal and not to order spring rolls as they literally make them from scratch. Jan our tour leader told us that they may have even ran down the the road to buy the ingredients to feed us.
We then get to the nunnery where we met with project co-ordintator who was lovely and welcoming. We had brought along a huge pile of biscuits and cake to share with the nuns who ranged in age from 10 - 40. We had also brought a kata along with a donation for the nunnery to be given to tenzin palm I and to be blessed by her. I was very excited to meet this lady as she was the reason I explored Buddhism in the first place. I had read her book a few years ago and it had inspired me to look further into the religion and I couldn't quite believe I was here meeting her, I would not be here in India if it weren't fo her it was definately a goose bump moment. After meeting with tenzin palamo and listening to her talk about the nunnery (which is stunning and beautiful and very well organised) she also told us about her oush to get nuns in the Tibetan tradition ordained behind novice and it just made me realise that no matter how noble the religion there are still flaws and sexism exists everywhere. There will be a meeting tomorrow where they will be discussing whether to allow this to happen so everyone cross fingers or say a prayer that it will be done!
After the talk with tenzin we head to a building where all the nuns are chanting the Tibetan scripts, it was breathtaking and the room was gorgeous, we sat and listened while they served us coffee and biscuits and cake (although kim and I missed out on cake and biscuits). The lttle 10.year old nuns were adorable, cheeky and funny. Ten
in had told us that she preferred the nuns to be at least 12 years old but depending on the circumstances they take the younger ones. Some of these nuns go into retreat for 3 years or even a lifetime...it is a whole new world. I found the whole experience incredily moving and inspiring and it has motivated me to explore this religion even further
We then drove back to the hotel, and we go through a festival with fireworks where the Hindus are re-enactng the killing of some demons, there is never a dull moment in this country. We were very lucky to have norbu in our car and so he answered all our questions and told us stories like the one about the monkey. When we got back found a restaurant and had something to eat and just chilled, I had to promise to bring back my coke bottle the next day though,lol
Tomorrow we head to the Norbulingka institute which is dedicated to preserving Tibetan art and culture so that should be interesting :-)
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kim Tomorrow we are heading to

Posted by sonya13 09:43 Archived in India Comments (0)

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