Sunday, October 5, 2008

Peace Out, Manali

Well we're just about ready to leave Manali. Tomorrow will be our final day. I think we will take the bus in the evening, but we've yet to decide. Then we'll be reaching beautiful Dharamsala!

For those of you who didn't know, the Dalai Lama held public teachings in Dharamasla from September 30 to October 4, which we strongly considered attending. We were going to take the train straight from Rishikesh, but all the tickets were sold out. We decided it wouldn't be worth it to sit amongst thousands of other pilgrims, likely a few blocks away and around the corner from the Dalai Lama himself, so we didn't look into any other method of getting to the city. Of course there was also the fear of there not being enough guest houses for everyone!

Anyway, back to beautiful Manali. The most lovely place we've been yet. Everything is just wonderful here. The people are very nice and relaxed, the climate is perfect, the hotels are cheap. We actually changed our hotel from the Sunshine Guest House to the Paradise Guest House in Old Manali. It's a great place to stay. The water is hot, the room is clean, the owners are friendly, and it's only Rs. 200 a night (approximately $5 Canadian).

We were eager to go see the sulphur hot springs across the river at the town of Vashisht just outside of Manali, but upon arriving we were grimly disappointed. We had visions of a beautiful little pool in a cave or something similar, but we were greeted by a grungy little box in the ground in the middle of the town. We let the water pour on to our hands, but we refused to dip our entire bodies in that cess pool.

Besides Vashsisht, we've visited a couple temples, including the place where Manu (aka Noah who owned a really big ark) meditated after saving humanity and all kinds of other creatures. It was all right.

More interesting was the Hadimba temple where vicious animal sacrifices are given for three days every year in May. Tons of skulls of the animals are attached to the outside of the temple. Strangely enough, we didn't get to see the inside of the temple. Why, you ask? WELL!!! They were filming a Bollywood moving out front!! It was pretty funny to watch the actors poke their eyes to facilitate crying.

We stayed around to watch a few downtrodden scenes before heading out to be greeted by furry yaks and rabbits. Steph was actually swarmed by four or five ladies each with rabbits in their hands asking if she would like a photo with them (for money, of course). Little did they know, all Steph wanted was to be surrounded by the incredibly furry creatures and was completely satisfied by the swarm.

Besides all that action, we've just been chilling and eating delicious foods, a topic I prefer to leave to Stephanie.

Oh and before I go, I suppose I should mention that Manali is the Cannabis Capital of India. It's growing everywhere! It has quite a pleasant smell. Many of the locals sell charas (although it is illegal), which is basically hashish. Someone told me they make it by rubbing their hands on the plants the rolling the crystals they get from them into the charas. Cool, eh?

So we're sad to leave Manali, but we're hoping Dharamsala will be just as nice. We'll be doing a 10-day meditation course at the Tushita Meditation Center, in complete silence. To read more about the course we're taking, see Introduction to Buddhism.

See ya


Steph-Joy said...

So there's this game I play in my head every time one of you makes a new post to try and guess who is writing before you use the other's name or I get to the end where it says who posted it. I think I've gotten quite good at it - you each have very distinct voices.

bob said...

In the early 1960s I had an excellent high-school English teacher who had an influential aura of calm and understanding, who (I later discovered) went on Buddhist retreats. In retrospect, it was not surprising. He introduced me and a few of my friends with similar interests to the practice of yoga, and then to Buddhism through a book I have kept all my life: Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Angarika Govinda (a German Buddhist who studied in Tibet and settled in India). I did not become a Buddhist but have always felt a kinship to that way of life in the world. And, regretfully, I never kept up yoga even though I knew it was good. All of which is to say, I'm glad you guys are doing what you're doing. Peace and love Steph, Dad. And peace and love Pete, Bob.

Mike said...

manali rules