Sept 30 Rishikesh

September 30, 2008

Sept 30 Rishikesh
Last night we could see Mother Ganga from our patio – wide, light green, some areas have small rapids, as it winds around broad curves we can enjoy it from many angles. Sometimes wide and smooth, other times choppy and rocky. Some shores are sandy and some are full of huge boulders that have tumbles along with the river. The valley curves and winds and both sides are forested green. Very few buildings – it is a small town.

In the distance we could see many people coming down to bathe and as night fell we saw little lights on the river, floating towards us as people made their offerings and prayers. We could also hear the chanting and singing and drumming from the many temples and ashrams up and down both sides of the valley.

Rishsikesh is a favourite pilgrimage spot. (aside: when we landed in Delhi airport we had to fill out an entrance card and there were about 10 options. Visit family and friends, spiritual schooling, pilgrimage… were some of them. I thought – what a country – so many holy spots, that ‘pilgrimage’ is actually a type of trip purpose you can tick off on your visa card.)

Anyway – being a place where every Indian would like to come in their lifetime, it is fairly busy. SO lots of Indian tourists here, where the Ganges makes its first appearance out of the mountains. Lots of westerners too, but mostly Indians, which keeps the environment more “Indian” and less ‘western’. It turns out that yesterday started a nine day festival honouring Mother Ganga.

We keep waking up early (still adjusting to time change) which is actually REALLY good as it was cool and windy in the early morning. We had an early breakfast – masala tea, and porridge with papaya, banana, pomegranate and mango – yummy!

We took a auto-rickshaw to one of the pedestrian bridges that cross the river, as there are temples, shops and views from both sides along the river right here. We walked across the span of the river – and it is so magnificent, beautiful, – I honestly cannot put into words my experience – tears came to my eyes. And of course we are walking the bridge in line with fabulously colourful women in their saris, ascetics, sadhus, old folks, children, monks etc etc. the early morning was still cool and we had crossed over to the shady side of the valley – so we enjoyed a stroll through the small marketplace and then strolled along a small road, heading north along the east bank of the Ganges. We spotted a little path and took it down – and there She was – the river – coolly flowing past a sandy stretch. We walked down in the sand – it is pure white and sparkly and glittery. I took off my shoes and sat on a perfect rock that allowed me to put my feet in the water. I washed my face and arms, feet cooling in Her waters.

We stayed on that little beach for awhile and we will go back with my empty bottles for some water and some Ziploc baggies for this beautiful sand.

I will bring some water back with me, but I also thought I could bring some to our Hindu friends in Dharamsala. They will really appreciate this – as they may never be able to make the trip here.

My hour is up on the internet service – I will be back at it tomorrow. Tonight we sleep next to the Holy Mother, resting in the peace and tranquility of Her voice. We are relaxed, contented, happy and so grateful to be here! Namaste


Delhi and train to Rishikesh (sept 28 and 29)

September 30, 2008

Sept 28 and 29
Flight to Delhi was great – this time we flew during the day so we got to see our awesome Himalayas and even, as we descended into Delhi, the Baha’i Temple – a pure white lotus flower on the landscape.

And guess who came with our driver to the airport to meet us? You bet! David was there – and easy to spot being about a foot taller than everyone else.

We bumped, honked and smoked our way to ManjKatilla (Tibetan settlement just outside Delhi) and had a meal and lots of catch up time. Very hot 42 degrees and muggy – the kind of weather I can least tolerate………….so, feeling tired and hot – we just took showers and went to bed at 8 pm – got up at 4:30 am for our train to Rishikesh. As we were sitting in the train station in the dark – the activity was pretty high but not intense. I was thinking as we boarded the train – we should have brought more food. I forgot how much David eats! We had some crackers and lots of water and a couple of bananas.

But, not to worry. The best thing was we had specific seats in an AIR CONDITIONED car! Whew! Then we were served hot tea and cookies, and then about an hour later – more hot tea (in a thermos) with vegetable pakora and rice and fruit. The about an hour later we had mango juice. Then we had bottles of ice cold water brought around. In other words, we ate and drank better than any flight we had taken.

David found a door open between train cars and took pictures the whole way. When we stopped at a station and another train was across from us – he chatted with the men and boys hanging out their car. We saw water buffalos, and rice paddies and forests and rivers and lakes. (from the cool interior of our car!)

We also caught up more about our lives since we last saw David in December 2007. He has a really good camera and is enjoying developing his skill and intuition with picture taking. You will probably see his pictures on this site more than ours while he is with us!

A driver from our hotel picked us up from the train station and we had about an hour drive (hot again, and muggy!) and arrived about 2 pm. We took cold showers and crashed on the beds in the AC room for a couple of hours. Then we went up to the roof patio, watched the sun go down and the lights come on in the valley. The wind picked up and it cooled off a bit – we could see the Ganges – however, had to wait a day to go see it, as we were too tired to figure out how to get down there. Our hotel is way up on the valley slope – we could not just walk down………..


planes, trains, automobiles

September 30, 2008

The flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was splendid! we travelled overland for a long long time. we followed the coast all the way up Alakska coast and saw spectacular mountains – including McKinley and glaciers. Then we passed over the Bering Strait – we are so close to Russia and then down along the other ‘coast’ over Japan and down to Hong Kong. Each time we do these long flights they get easier. This one was 14 hours and when we landed we were not totally depleted and exhausted.

However – we did exhaust ourselves touring, walking all over Hong Kong. We went up to famous Victoria Peak and viewed the entire area – although it is muggy and hazy – it is quite incredible how many people can live in such a small space. But like last time – very very clean, friendly. Watched the local women do their morning exercise in the park – using old gym equipment and chatting away. off to Delhi – and to see David!


Packing

September 23, 2008

How to get all this in one bag …


September 23, 2008

Vicki’s brother Steve came by to wish us well (from Seattle) and he is heading to Vietnam in a few weeks as well.


Countdown – 14 days

September 12, 2008

We are working day and night in our preparations for our big trip! yikes – how could there be so much to do?

Our dear friend Wendy is possibly travelling to her guru’s ashram in December – wouldn’t that be awesome to see her in India?

David is joining us from Sept 28 – Oct 23 – what an amazing giftt – to travel and see the world with my son! now if I can just get Juliette and Jeff over………………