India
India

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414 travelers at this place:

  • Day289

    Record-breaking Spiti

    June 14 in India

    Isn’t it on the dice that the spectacular location of the Spiti Valley could make some good advertisement to attract tourists?
    Of course it is and that’s what the tourism department of Himachal Pradesh does (and the local population chuckles about): They claim to have the highest bridge in Asia, the highest village in the world, the highest city in the world, the highest post office in the world, the highest rooftop café in the world and so on...

    It works, the tourists are coming, but most of it isn’t the truth and altitude indications on the signposts are always doubtful. We trust our GPS, our maps and enjoy our time, record yes or no :)
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  • Day294

    Pin Valley

    June 19 in India

    Coming to Kaza, which is the headquarter of Lahaul and Spiti, felt a bit like entering back into civilization, we could choose from menus in the various restaurants, there were hotels, guesthouses and souvenir shops, a fruit and vegetable market. But still, power outages came frequent and there was no mobile network. At least two places have set up a wifi, which worked a little between 2 and 3 am when the town was sleeping. It was the first time after 10 days that we could send and receive messages and unfortunately there was not only good news: Silke’s Grandma had died already a week ago... :(

    To mourn and to make other thoughts come, we decided to leave Kaza again. Therefore we had to get an ‘Inner Line Permit’ for an upcoming stretch of 28km. A typical, nerve-racking Indian bureaucracy act with many pass-photos and lots of paperworks followed. There’s only one road, thus every foreigner has to undergo this useless process. The official reason is that we would get as close as a stone’s throw from the Tibetan border...however, it is what it is.

    We cycled into the Pin Valley which we also call ‘Windy Valley’ since we went in and out due to heavy gusty winds. The winds occasionally pushed us to a standstill but the valley is beautiful and still a bit off the beaten track, overall a worthy detour. It’s a side valley formed by the Pin River which merges with the Spiti River.

    As we entered, there was a transformation from the stone desert to acres of greenery and green mountains. There’s a chain of lovely villages and (not muddy) Mud is the last one and a dead end apart from a few hiking paths.

    People are so hospitable there (they tried hard to enable us watching the Germany match against Mexico, which didn’t work...and we’re quite happy about now) that we decided to stay longer. We enjoyed the peace of this place, went for a nice walk and enjoyed tons of ‘Tibetan pizza’ (which is actually just a sandwich of two simple chapatis with some veggies and cheese in between, fried in a pan, but delicious!).
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  • Day299

    Preservation efforts

    June 24 in India

    Tabo became famous after its thousand-year-long anniversary in 1996 wherefore tens of thousands pilgrimaged to the old monastery. It has the most impressive temple we‘ve ever seen, built from mud and so old, but with well-preserved, beautiful mural paintings, stucco and terrifying wooden figures coming out of the walls. It’s almost dark inside, there’s only a little opening in the middle of the roof where some sunrays may enter and any other light (cameras as well) is strictly prohibited to protect the artworks. The lighting conditions create a mystical, even terrifying atmosphere which made us taking every footstep with a lot of care, and humility.

    The cute village Mane manages to keep tourism at a low level and maintains its traditions. It is certainly not harmful that it is hidden by the surrounding mountains on a higher plateau and invisible from the road. There is only one homestay, which is still a true, non-commercialized homestay where the family was around us or we were around them, eating together in their living room. And their were so many kids, strikingly curious kids, super excited to see us foreigners, keen to help us with our stuff when we arrived and always around - great fun!

    We’re so thankful to all the road workers continuously maintaining the road. Conditions are still bad though, but without their efforts the roads would become impassable within a few days. Some stretches are so dangerous, meaning the landslide or shooting stone areas where those poor people permanently clear the way, risking their own lives and making it possible for us to cycle here (the poorest of them even live along the road in tiny tin shacks). Thank you!
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  • Day312

    Bye bye, Himachal!

    July 7 in India

    And there it was, finally: Rain! What a weird feeling to cycle through the rain again, but we actually enjoyed it that the rainy season eventually had caught us - although some showers from overtaking trucks were a bit too much of the wet element.

    We found a nice family running a guesthouse in a quiet, hilly area near Chail. When they proudly showed us the surroundings of their home, we could feel that they care a lot about the environment and their health.
    They produce their own organic food in some small fields and in a greenhouse, like
    peas, pumpkin, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pepper, onions, chilies, potatoes, beetroot, apple, apricot - two cows give fresh milk every day... And with these fresh ingredients they prepared some of the most delicious meals we had in India, thus we had to extend our stay there :)

    There were two birthdays in the big family, so we also got to know other members - we’re so happy about this authentic familial experience towards the end of our journey, thanks a lot Param!

    And then we absolutely wanted to pitch our tent one last time, and there was only one night left before our train to Delhi would leave from Kalka. Actually, we’ve developed quite a sense to make out possible camping areas on our maps during the last months - but this time we were wrong: Aiming at a hilly area near Solan, still marked as a forest on the maps, we were surprised how fast this village must have been exploded and eaten up the greens. It was so crowded, difficult to cross, so much construction going on, but we didn’t give up. Just before dawn we found a spot in the curve of a steep serpentine, apparently only used by pedestrians, and we were so glad! Even the view was quite nice from there though.

    The roads became busier next day, the traffic gradually increased and soon, we found ourselves back in dusty, bustling India again: Bye bye Himachal Pradesh...

    In the evening we reached the train station in Kalka which is equipped with a parcel office and, surprisingly, a dorm room. While the helpful guys in the office took care of our bikes we could even find some sleep till the departure of our train in the morning - we’re coming to like the Indian railway system more and more :)
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  • Day315

    There is the ‘Delhi Gate’ in between New Delhi and Old Delhi, but the cities merged and blurred into each other. The contrasts we encountered between poor and rich, between messy and neat, between dirty and clean, between shocking and acceptable, between noisy and calm, between sordid and modern, and so on, were so sharp that they became indescribable for us. You need to see it, hear it, smell it, feel it. This incredible city is predicted to become the largest metropolitan on earth in 2030, with almost 40(!) million people living there, in a single city, that’s half the German population! We’ll not try to write about what we experienced there, our three days there were intense whereat the unbearable heat and humidity were just side effects.

    Delhi is surely not the right place to reflect our journey of more than 10 months, 12440km on the roads, 125 nights in our beloved tent - although we tried to find words while we enjoyed a combination of our most beloved Indian dishes in a quiet rooftop restaurant above the bustling main bazaar. Time is flying fast, but traveling should never be about quickness.

    Therefore, we find it suitable what Tim Winton once wrote about long-distance cyclists:
    ‘When I see cyclists grinding away at the roadside, their swags and billies strapped behind them as they pump and shine along the highway’s perilous edge, I find myself embarrassed to be moving so fast. We’re each traveling through the same landscape, these mad bastards and I, but surely their experience is deeper, more authentic. They must absorb things I miss entirely.’

    We absorbed a lot and we’re very thankful that we could take the chance to discover the world by bicycle for such a long time. We’re thankful that our circumstances of life allowed us to do so, for many many people on earth this is unthinkable or impossible. We’re thankful for so much humanity, we’re thankful to the fascinating and inspiring people and fellows we met everywhere, we’re thankful to the welcoming countries we could visit and we’re thankful to the wonders that nature has created.

    Now, we’re looking forward to come home, to spend time with our families and friends and to whatever the future may bring. So far, we know that Silke is going to look for a job in northern Germany (and suffer from wanderlust soon) and that Hauke is going to continue cycling for a while (he left his bike and most luggage in Delhi).

    See you soon!

    Silke & Hauke
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  • Day291

    Ki Gompa

    June 16 in India

    The prayer halls and homes of the monks were built on top of each other around a little hill, creating a Buddhistic fortress where about 300 monks of all ages live nowadays. It is rich in history and we were so fond of the atmosphere that we decided to stay overnight, which is possible for a small contribution.

    It was our first night in a monastery and we could experience a bit of the monks‘ daily life. A very nice Lama took care of us, prepared some basic meals, even a midnight tea, and tried to answer our questions. We slept at the top of the hill what allowed us to watch the young monks doing their prayers or monk discussions on the roofs below. Just search for some videos of monk discussions and you’ll agree that this is an interesting technique :)

    There were some other travelers we had a great time with, sharing stories and enjoying the fantastic views and the tangible stars at night. Sometimes visits to the most remarkable places make you meeting the most remarkable people...
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  • Day304

    Staying high

    June 29 in India

    The number of military posts increased and we knew that we were as close as never before to Tibet (goosebumps!), but all we could see were mighty snowy peaks on the other side of the Spiti...and one ahead which we weren’t aware of but had to climb. Luckily we met two friendly Indians who pulled us half the way up till we saw a nice spot to pitch our tent. They simply attached our bikes to their motorbikes with ropes - what an amazing idea, and what a relaxed ride!

    At the back of our minds there was a subtle disgust against the heat down in the plains, and some fear of the chaos we expected of Delhi...but we knew that we had to go there in about 2 weeks. Thus, we tried to spend as much time as possible as high up in the mountains as possible these days.

    We found Nako and Kalpa to be great places to do this and spend a lot of time there, took some days off from cycling, relaxed, went for walks through the orchards, talked to the locals and enjoyed spectacular views of the holy Shiva Peak (Kinnur Kailash at 6050m).

    By the way, when we described the local agriculture and the accurate fields, we forgot to mention the huge apple orchards and clever irrigation channels they’ve built. However, the farmers are talking about the climate change they are suffering from. There has been a lack of snow in the increasingly warmer winters since a few years, causing a lack of water in the summers and shrinking glaciers. The Himalayas are the area where the recent drinking water problems of India start...
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  • Day307

    Part of the game

    July 2 in India

    We were already about to come to the end of our journey and then it yet happened: Our first accident. A cow blocked our side of the road when a car came from the front. While we were overtaking the cow, it happened that one of Silke’s front panniers got tangled up in one of Hauke’s so that Silke fell down with her bike. As we enjoyed lots of rapid downhills these days, we were going quite fast. But luckily, nothing serious happened, light abrasions on knee and hip, one swollen knee - and a genuine, red, smarting racing cyclists' road burn around one elbow. After the shock went away, the pain came up, we treated the wounds and continued cycling.

    Along the road, we occasionally saw ropeways going up to some villages high above which are only accessible by steep footpaths with many stairs. The government supplies these remote villages by sending up baskets full of foodstuff - those poor people living up there in their oases of peace should not lack Coca Cola and other convenient food, of course...

    Back down below 1000m, the heat took away our motivation to continue cycling and when we faced our last, unavoidable ascent up to almost 3000m, some laziness sneaked in: We stopped a pickup and hitchhiked up to the hill station Narkanda. This allowed us to stay there for a couple of days in a refreshing climate and to explore the dense, surrounding pine forest by foot :)
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  • Day192

    Jaisalmer

    November 14, 2017 in India

    We caught a very early train to Jaisalmer and managed to get in a sleeper car so were able to relax in relative comfort for most of the 6 hour trip. The last time we were in India we spent many, many days and nights traveling on India Rail, so it was a very familiar experience.
    Jaisalmer is a much smaller town than Jodphur and even closer to the Pakistan border. We spent an afternoon exploring a military museum that helped us to better understand the history of the Indian military and some of the border wars they’ve successfully fought with Pakistan and China (including some insane conditions high in the Himalayas). They have a huge border to protect and pour incredible resources into this effort. The military presence is everywhere in this part of India and we saw very large convoys of tanks and patrolling jets while visiting this area.
    The dominant feature in the town is a beautiful hilltop fort. Built in the 12th century, it’s one of the oldest occupied walled cities in the world. We had a great guide who spent a day showing us around the Fort and part of the new town. The fact that people still live within the city walls somehow makes it easier to imagine how life may have been several hundred years ago. People here are very proud of their heritage, and rightfully so. The city is truly spectacular and the detail and beauty of the sandstone carved buildings surpasses anything we've seen elsewhere in India.
    People here have been incredibly warm and friendly. One night after returning to our hotel after enjoying dinner at a rooftop restaurant, we had a knock on our door. It turns out that Christy had left her iphone at the restaurant and the manager had ridden his motor bike through the city to return it to us, despite it being worth many months of most people’s salary here in India.
    We’d considered doing a multi-day camel trek through the Thar desert, but in the end decided for a shorter trip of a few hours. Phew, within minutes of getting on our camels we both realized that camels are not particularly comfortable to ride AND they are enormous and a little terrifying. In any case, we very much enjoyed a few hours with the camels, seeing the Thar desert and enjoying sunset over the dunes.
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  • Day253

    Namasté India!

    May 9 in India

    Crossing the border into overpopulated India was quite easy. The first days of cycling were characterized by smooth roads, intense heat, bad air quality, chaotic city traffic, disgusting smell of burning piles of trash, cows and pigs crossing the road. And to be honest, the only thing that whetted our appetite was the amazing food and the beginning of the mango season :) But it became better and better...more impressions will follow.

    By the way, we’re in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh now, at the place where the Daila Lama lives, going to do a meditation course and will be back online in 10 days.

    See you soon :)
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of India, Indien, India, Indië, ህንድ, الهند, ভারত, Hindistan, Һиндостан, Індыя, Индия, भारत, Ɛndujamana, རྒྱ་གར་, Indija, Índia, Indiya, Indie, Инди, Hindıstan, ހިންދުސްތާން, རྒྱ་གར, India nutome, Ινδία, Hindujo, هند, Enndo, Intia, Inde, Ende, Yndia, An India, Na h-Innseachan, ભારત, Yn Injey, ʻInia, הודו, Indiska, End, Հնդկաստան, ꑴꄗ, Indland, ᐃᓐᑎᐊ, インド, xingu'e, ინდოეთი, ឥណ្ឌា, ಭಾರತ, 인도, ہِندوستان, Inndije, ھیندستان, Eynda, Buyindi, Índɛ, ອິນເດຍ, Indy, Inia, Индија, ഇന്ത്യ, Энэтхэг, Hindia, Indja, အိန္ဒိယ, Indiyān, Innia, Înde, Indii, ଭାରତ, ਭਾਰਤ, Ubuhindi, Ìndia, Ênnde, ඉන්දියාව, Hindiya, Indi, இந்தியா, భారత దేశం, Ҳиндустон, อินเดีย, ʻInitia, Hindstan, ’Inītia, ھىندىستان, Індія, انڈیا, Ҳиндистон, Ấn Độ, 印度, אינדיע, Orílẹ́ède India, i-India

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