Saturday, July 28, 2007


After a couple of epic bus trips, I've made it from the green Kinnaur Valley into the dry Spiti Valley. Each place I stop at seems to be more beautiful than the last.

My first stop was Nako, a town in the transition between the two valleys.

I managed to rent a room with a local family, fantastic except that electricity and water supply were intermittent at best.

I also did some more work on my herding skills. This time it was goats and I was quite pleased with my efforts. I was on a long walk when I ran into a goatherd who insisted on carrying my bag - in return for conversation.

The walk was stunning. Incredible new views lay around each corner but after walking five hours I was hungry, thirsty and exhausted and forced myself to turn around.

I moved on from there to Dhankar - a town towering over the Spiti River with an (almost) 1,000 year old monastery stuck on a rocky outcrop. Dhankar is quite a climb from the road which travels along the bottom of the valley and I was lucky enough to get transport up.

The monastery guesthouse seemed so luxurious (snow views, delicious food and occasional hot water and electricity) that I decided to base myself there and do the rest of the valley in day trips.

It's a little village. The only guesthouse is in the monastery and the guesthouse contains the village's only shop. The monastery is also the only place to get food, which comes only at set times. I've been very content just sitting around watching the light change throughout the day.

The monastery kitchen is a fun place to hang out and I'm guaranteed to get offered a cup of Tibetan salty tea.

I also love watching the goats and sheep get driven down from the hills at the end of the day.

And then watching the locals use various methods of rounding them up. Mostly, it's the grandmas job to lure their own goats into their pens with bits of bread. This girl had a more aggressive approach.

A huge advantage of Dhankar is that there are only a couple of other tourists there each night. I've now split from my little group and a lot of the other tourists around here are particularly annoying. About half the tourists here are from one country and they have a bad reputation. I've witnessed enough unpleasant behaviour to understand why.

So this is where I turn around and head back the way I came, stopping at smaller places along the way. I'm only just over halfway through the holiday but I know the next two weeks are going to go incredibly fast! I should be back in Kinnaur and online again in about five days.


Miriam said...

sounds incredible... thinking..... high on a hill with a lonely goat herd. wouldnt mind some goat herding myself. i noticed your planning to make july india travels a reocurring event. i might need to book in in the near future. i too will carry your bag in exchange for conversation.

Cal said...

What do these tourists do that so annoys you?

PS Got my passport with Indian visa back today. Yay. Though the factories I'm going to visit ain't going to be as scenic as your trip!!

Joe said...

Yep, I will be here again :)

Cal, since you asked:
- Lecturing people jostling at the bus ticket counter and then calling them all bastards
- Proclaiming loudly on a bus that Indians suck up to the English and should be more proud of their national language (not so simple you idiot!)
- Bargaining hard for a day trip in a jeep and not paying any additional after adding 4 extra passengers with luggage. Taking additional money from a Spanish couple in the jeep ('it's your choice') but then collecting less money from fellow countrymen instead of passing the additional amount to the driver.
- Getting a lift from a tractor driver (organised by me) but then not turning up for the return trip and obviously not offering payment

But the thing that has really driven me crazy is the formulaic:
'Where do you come from? How much are you paying for your hotel room? You are getting ripped off!'
It's a developing country you fools! I don't care about sucking out every last rupee, particularly when my room costs the same as a carton of Tesco's Finest strawberries!

Grrr.... in their defence, maybe the ones who have not just spent 3 years doing national service are nicer. The problem is that they don't care where they are, they are just here because it is cheap and they can let loose.

j a s o n said...

Isrealis, is my guess? They seem to annoy most seasoned travellers the most...

I drank all the mint tea Mercer St Cafe has! And strangely hanker for more...

Am under very strict orders not to leave anything this time...the bag I left you is quite big...about 10kgs, hope thats ok with you...its only clothes and two books.

Joe said...

Jason that's no worries at all. I'll hardly be taking anything and I need to leave room to load up on supplies in HK for bringing to the UK :)

j a s o n said...

Ta very much! I somehow had 30Kg, and the lady was kind enough to let me through!

Is everyone putting in orders from HK??? Or is it you loading up on cooking ingredients?

How have you been holding up with your diet in India? We were all wondering if it was easy or hard for you.

j a s o n said...

My travels are so very mundane compared to this Joe!!!

Fantastic, some excellent photos, they really take you there.

What an experience it must have been!