Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{ Hangin' in Heaven...or just the Himalayas! }

First weekend adventure on our own! 
A beautiful little hillside town in the Western Himalayas. 
It was gorgeous.
heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
seriously, incredible!!!
Literally heaven on earth.  
No words can adequately describe this beautiful place!

We started our adventure at the Old Delhi train station.
I'll just say that I was quite (unpleasantly) surprised by the train station. 
After walking up and down about 8 sets of loooong stairs,
and returning to the place we started,
we settled at our platform.
Platform 5.

This is the Old Delhi station. It's hard to adequately depict the scene through such a small lens. But there are no words to describe the station. Yes, it was filthy. But there was so much emotion attached to this tiny building as well. I'll just say it's impossible to describe.

Yes, most of what you see is trash. 

After a long walk to the other end of the platform (where we thought we would need to get on for our -2AC class), the train arrived, and we realized we were on the sleeper (traditional Indian train stereotype with everyone hanging out the doors of the train!) end of the platform - we needed to be on the exact opposite end of the train! Of course as first-time travelers in India, we didn't know how long we had and we booked it to the other end of the platform, shoving ourselves through the hoards of people trying to get on their car. Well, we made it! Very safely, thank goodness. And we were pleasantly surprised by the conditions of the train - air-conditioning (expected but it worked well!), clean blankets and a sheet and pillow, a pleasant stranger in our 4-person berth, etc. It was awesome! The only sad thing, I stayed on the top bunk and at one point, my iPod touch dropped off and the screen must have shattered inside - it's broken :/ C'est la vie! The train was quite the adventure! And it was only just beginning...

We were so happy to be on the air-conditioned train and out of the heat, we had to document! And we loved the train :) It was Katie and Sarah's first train ride!

That's a french fry, no worries! We felt like we should be in a '50s movie or something! The train was stylin'! 
Jhalf (Just havin' a little fun!) in India 

We got off the train at 4:30 am and saw this brilliant moon - it was amazing! And reminded me of someone special :)

And as we drove an hour up the mountain to Kasauli (we had arranged for a taxi previously), we watched the most gorgeous sunrise!

I told you.

This is our hotel road. We stayed at the Kasauli Regency - we would totally recommend it!
First views of Kasauli didn't disappoint. 

Hammock in the hotel - it was very nice. We could get used to this!

First views of the Himalayas (or hills of the Himalayas rather) - AMAZING!!!

Our breakfast table :)

Bread omelets! 

The beautiful city of Garkhal!

Typical Indian truck - I love it!

Tibetan men.

Indian men working their day away by chiseling at stone. This is their quarry.
Kind of feels like we're going back in time, don't you think? 

This is me.

I could totally live there!

The train station with the toy train (shown above) in Dharampur. We wanted to ride it but we got there a little late...
After a crazy morning of driving around on the mountain side, we stopped at a beautiful, very old (like 400+ years) Hindu temple. It was an awesome experience.

Yes, I went to the bathroom in there.

Just chillin' at the temple with Sarah.

Giving parashad (gifts) to the Gods!

And then we did a little dance there in the temple!

Our "dear friend" bracelets!

The beginning of our "flower wrangling" hehe we were drying them and saving them in my Book of Mormon. It was at this point that we decided we had to stop calling the Book of Mormon our "BOM" because it could be misinterpreted!
It was fun to have some relaxation time to just walk around the city. We met lots of beautiful-soul people. I love the Indians - they're so friendly. 

These guys were on their way up to the temple.

At this point, we got pretty serious about our "flower wrangling!" India is so diverse - I love the many different flowers you can find here. 

Sarah had to "wrangle" in the flowers with her camera bag strap.

We were having some trouble with this one so a nice Indian guy came and helped us - he made it look too easy! 
The cute Indian kids on their way home from the convent school - back down the mountain!

ADVENTURE - we rode a crazy Indian bus down the mountain! Talk about bummmmmpy. This boy that you can see in the left side of the picture, yeah he was cute. And he spent the entire ride listening to loud, cheesy love songs from the '90s. hahaha. Mae my day!

Then, we had one of the most amazing Indian meals of our lives!

Indian complete with Naan, mushroom matar, jeer rice, fresh onions, and of course some fries to finish it off! ;) 

I loved watching these little kids play "hopscotch" in the dirt road by their house!
We headed into the village of Kasauli for the evening. 

Here is the beautiful Catholic Christ Church in the center of town. It is an ex-British Cantonment so there are all kinds of reminders of the British Raj. 

This is the Pine Mall - surrounded in pines. And great shopping!

The monkeys got so close to us here!
Then, we hiked up to Sunset point to watch the well... sunset! Little did we know, we were walking above a beautiful pillow of clouds. We sat and watched the sunset behind a beautiful, feathery blanket of fluffy clouds! 
It was in the top 5 sunsets I have ever seen.

Look at that!!!
We spent the evening back at our hotel at their rooftop restaurant and bar called, The Hangout. It was majestic! We bought us some mocktails - the cinderella, fruit punch, and the special (mango...yum! not). An Indian guitarist came and played for us (we got to hear Hotel California :) That was a nice!) and we met the most beautiful Indian family.

Our cocktails!

This adorable little girl walked up to me and asked me where we were from. We said "America" and her response, "See you in America! I'm going to be at NASA." Let's just say, her dad is a well-established doctor here just outside of Delhi! 
This was the most beautiful little family! It was soooo refreshing to see such a loving, gentle family. You can definitely see the stark contrast between the divided social classes. And the way they live and treat one another. It was evident that Dr. Sharma (the father's name) deeply loved his wife, he held his sleeping son in his arms all night, and they all had the sweetest spirit about them. Even better, we're meeting up with them for dinner here in Delhi sometime! 

Saturday evening ended way too fast! We felt like we were in a dream. We spent Sunday morning at the market and walking around the beautiful town of Kasauli. Some of the best purchases - wool scarves (for cheap!), wool socks, a North Face jacket for $10, etc. I'm not much of a shopper but I love Indian markets!

We found this Tibetan woman making baby booties - so cute! I wish I had bought some. 

There are SO many monkeys around here. But especially in the mountains. Here's the story behind this next picture: there was a bunch of beautiful monkeys sitting up on a roof, I went to stand by them to get a picture and a huge monkey (maybe the daddy?) came out of nowhere and pounced on me, and I almost died. The end.

So here I stand, using my newly-bought banana to point at him (there in the sunlight, the big monkey is hard to see) and take a picture. Memorable moment to say the least! At least I won't have a newspaper article talking about the "dumb American that died from a vicious monkey!"

A Nepali guard/forest ranger

Here we are as we finished our last day in Kasauli.
A blonde, a brunette, and a red head go to heaven :)
Note to Katie - don't wear GREEN. Bugs are attracted to green, especially big buzzing bee-like bugs. NO green. I guess you looked like a plant ;) 
It was the most amazing weekend here in India!
The train ride home was slightly uneventful. It was shorter and we went in a chair car because we weren't traveling during the night. I enjoyed hearing Shania Twain "From this Moment" played aloud a couple of times. American music can be very comforting in a less comfortable Indian environment (haha).

At some of the train stops, Indians would get on and sell cheap street food or pre-made sandwiches. That was our dinner and it was actually quite good! Except for the "exhausted" ice cream - it literally tasted like exhaust fumes (the little bit we ate). The worst part was that with the food sellers, also came the beggars. This younger boy came on and crawled on the floor, no shirt on, tapping people's knees in hopes for some money. It breaks my heart everytime I see something like this. 

We arrived home safely at about 11:30 pm. We took a cab from the train station. Customer service here is amazing - the cab company, Meru cabs, is so legit. You call and order a cab, they're there on time, come and find you, and take you very safely to your location. I love it. 

And I always love the feeling of coming "home." 
What a great weekend!

To see more amazing pictures from my trip to Kasauli,

No comments:

Post a Comment