here’s some random stuff about McLeod Ganj. some of the stuff i may have already mentioned in previous posts, i cant remember…
the town itself is tiny. ridiculously small. it’s pretty much just two parallel (semi dirt, semi paved and crumbling) streets with two other even smaller streets splitting off from them. pretty much everything in town is on those two main streets. directly in the middle of town, between the two streets is the chorten, or a temple, which has the red prayer wheels that i’ve posted pictures of. other than the temple, pretty much everything on these roads are small shops which come in 6 varieties: hotel, restaurant, internet cafe, grocery shop, craft store, and book store.
the restaurants are all fairly small, and will almost always serve indian, tibetan, and chinese cuisine. usually they’ll specialize in one of these, for instance, the indian food will be delicious, but the chinese food will suck, but almost always, all 3 will be on the menu. the indian food in this town is really good at some places and the same goes for chinese at other places. as for the tibetan… well… unfortunately, i cant say that i like it all that much. most of it is bland, and kind of boring. the one good thing they have are momos which are dumplings similar to potstickers. they have a variety of noodle soups, vegetable gravies, etc… but i havent been impressed by any of these. they also have this weird grain stuff called tsampa which they either roll into little balls, or make porridge out of. the most horrible thing though, is this stuff called butter tea. this “tea” doesnt have any tea leaves in it or anything… instead it’s like 75% water, 25% milk, and a ton of meleted butter. it’s totally disgusting!!
caryn eating tsampa porridge
the internet cafes here are usually really slow, and get even slower when there are a lot of people on line. the craft stores usually sell t-shirts, prayer flags, incense, bags, and the little handheld prayer wheels that the tibetans always walk around with. the book stores will sell pretty much books on buddhism, the dalai lama, spirituality, and stuff like that. other than the main types of places i’ve already mentioned, there are some yoga places, volunteer organizations, massage places, travel agents, and a few “movie theaters”. the theaters are just small buildings with a huge tv that they’ll play dvd’s on. since we havent seen hardly any movies in the last few months, we were really excited about these and saw the Aviator yesterday.
in front of all these shops, the tibetans have all sorts of little stalls set up. the most common stall you’ll see are ones where people sell momos that they fry up on the street, or sometimes these weird sausage-like things. there’s also an outdoor vegetable market, postcard stalls, etc. during the day, these streets will be full of toursists, monks, tibetans, cows, and stray dogs. a lot of the tibetans here wear their traditional clothing. the women wear these dresses that have small stripy aprons on the front. at night it gets pretty dark as there is not much lighting around, and often the power goes out (almost daily) which makes it even darker! also, as you walk down the roads, you constantly have to watch out for taxi vans that drive surprisingly fast given the fact that they are on one lane “roads” that are packed with people. luckily, they have their horn blaring 24/7, so as soon as you hear the horn you know you need to run off the side of the road or get hit.
if you keep walking down one of these two main roads, you’ll get to the Namgyal monastery which is the complex where the dalai lama lives. it’s a really cool place, and as i mentioned before, the trail around it is a wonderful walk…
temple on the path around namgyal
looking in any directoion from town, you’ll see snowy mountains and beautiful valleys. little colorful houses are perched among the hillsides and that’s where most of the tibetans live. down the “highway”, if you can call it that, is the Nechung monastery. this is the monastery i mentioned in my post about the oracle. it’s a small little place, and since i didnt bring my camera on the day of the oracle, caryn and i wandered down there yesterday.
statue of nechung oracle behind a curtain
there’s more to the town, but not really too much more. really small, really chill, scenic, spiritual, and with incredibly nice people.
oh, i just remembered one thing that happened a few days ago. while walking past a grocery store, i saw a big box of fruit loops, so i decided to buy it. as i walked down the road, a little beggar girl ran up to me asking for mony. i shook my head “no”, and then she started pointing at my box of cereal. how could i say no to that? so i started opening the packaging as she held out her little bowl. as i was fiddling w/ the box, she turned her head and yelled something, which apparently meant “COME AND GET IT!!! FOOD’S ON!!”, cause when i looked up again, there was now a large group of people in front of me, all asking for cereal. people had their hands out, and were also holding out the bottoms of their shirts to make bowls out of them. i was totally swarmed by them, and was pouring fruit loops like mad to everyone. by the time i was able to get away, there was less than half of the cereal box left!! it was nice to finally be able to give something to people after saying no so many times!!