As soon as the first monk appeared, his saffron robes brightly reflecting the early morning light, the people on the street shifted into action. As the faithful assembled on the sidewalk, readying their wicker baskets filled with sticky rice for the monks, we tourists started jockeying for the best camera angles. It is time for the tak bat, the daily procession of monks seeking alms from the people through the streets of the city. Luang Prabang (I’ll call it “LP” for short) has many active Buddhist temples, and for many years, the monks have taken to the street in this manner to collect alms – in the form of food – from the townspeople. Continue reading
I noticed the calm as soon as we got out of the taxi. Even though it was after 10:00 in the morning, there was almost no traffic on the street. We split the cab fare with Lucy and Glenn, an Australian couple we met at the border, said our farewells, and we picked up our packs and started walking. A few motorbikes and tuk-tuks would putter by, and a few more foreigners were sitting in the sidewalk cafes drinking coffee while pouring over Lonely Planet guides. Peace reigned over all. It was hard to believe we had just arrived in Vientiane (pronounced VEE-en-chan), the capital of Laos and its largest city. Continue reading
There’s not too much undiscovered country left in Thailand. It’s well known that the days of cheap beach holidays in southern Thailand are pretty much over. Sure, it’s cheap by comparison a beach holiday in a lot of places. But sticking to a modest budget and avoiding the well-beaten tourist path in southern Thailand was going to be a big challenge. Continue reading
So sorry to keep you hanging.
Last time we chatted, Kara and I were in India and we were floundering. We were trying to decide what the heck to do. Keep pressing forward with the plan, despite being sick and tired, or scuttle the plan and head to Thailand. It wasn’t easy, but ultimately we decided to abandon India and head to Thailand. Continue reading
When the insanity of India gets to be too much, there are plenty of activities away from all that. Some people do yoga, study Ayurvedic massage, or take meditation classes. We do cooking classes. So, our class at Noble Cooking School in Udaipur turned out to be one of our favorite activities in India. Our instructor took us through 12 different dishes — way more than we could eat at the end of class! And we learned skills for life, like making chapattis (as Kara is doing in the photo). Hopefully, we’ll be able to pull off some delicious curry when we get back home.
Amritsar is a site of pilgrimage for many Indians. The city of just over a million people is the home of the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. Sikhs come here to make offerings and prayers and to bathe in the holy waters surrounding the temple. But Amritsar is also a place of political pilgrimage. Only an hour’s drive from India’s only land entry point into Pakistan, thousands of people visit the border at sunset each day to watch the ostentatious display of military pageantry that occurs when the border closes for the day. So, we went to Amritsar to see what all this was about. Continue reading
I have been trying for two weeks now to write a post about what it is like to be an American, childless, interracial couple traveling independently in India. India is a very strange place. It is truly a different world. I’m sure that Indian people think the same thing when they come to the U.S. Kara and I have now traveled in 20 countries, all of them different. In each one, after a day or two, we were able to figure out what was going on and get comfortable. Some places, like most of Europe, aren’t that different from home. Others, like Syria and Mozambique, hardly see any Americans. Continue reading