Archives for the month of: May, 2016

We welcomed the hot, dry weather back in Dubai and relished the fact that everything was so neat, clean and orderly after India. It was only the prices in Dubai that were hard to digest after most things being so much cheaper in India. We always catch the train from the airport to FGB (First Gulf Bank)which is fast and an easy way to get to that side of town and we then get a taxi to Um Suquiem 2 where Alan lives. Mary his housekeeper let us in as Alan had to fly to Munich that day. He was luckily home two days later and until we left.

We noticed at the mall that there were a lot more Russian sales assistants, some very rude and a couple of very nice ones making up for the rude ones. There were also many Russian tourists in Dubai this time. We found on the whole that the Filipino and Indian staff are much more pleasant.

It is always relaxing going to stay with Alan in Dubai. We have been there now many times and we feel very much at home and enjoy just spending time with him and walking to the beach, having a swim in the crystal clear water and visiting the Mall of the Emirates a couple of times. We had take away Indian and Arabian food so that we could also have a drink at home. No alcohol is served in any of the restaurants only in the big hotels.

We were lucky this time to catch up with Salim, my friend from our Mandarin course in Hangzhou nearly five years ago. We hadn’t seen him for a couple of years and he had flown in from a holiday with his family in Istanbul the day before.

Alan kindly dropped us at the airport with our large amount of luggage on the 9th May for our Qatar flight via Doha to Rome.

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On the 24th April We had the usual 3hour trip down the mountain from Udayagiri to Calicut (Khozikhode) and then a comfortable hour and a half’s flight to Mumbai. We were most impressed with the airport in Mumbai which had many interesting and novel art and sculpture works.

Nidti and her husband Ashraf who have a film production company met us after toing and froing a bit between the domestic and international airports. I had advised them that we would be at the
domestic airport however the powers that be had recently moved all Jet Airways flights to land and take off from the international airport but had not updated that information online.

We spent a lovely evening with them in Andheri where they live on the 11th floor of a 16 floor appartment block. Maharashtra is in drought so with no scheme water at present they have to buy water which a tanker delivers to the appartment building. Nidti made us a delicious dinner with huge tiger prawns and we ate the most delicious Alphonso mangoes for dessert after Nidti stopped on the
way home to buy a box from their favourite seller (one of many mango stalls along the road). We went to a late showing of the new 3D Jungle book film which had incredible animation effects. The
only real character in the movie was Mowgli.

On Monday we went with Nidhi and their driver via the beach suburb of Juhu and over a newish toll highway over the water and along the coast past Chowpatti beach and the bay called the Queen’s
Necklace into the city. It was lovely to revisit the old parts of city with it’s British heritage buildings and interesting shops. We had a wonderful lunch at “Soam” a Gujarati/fusion restaurant with a great variety of snacks and delicious meals. One of their specialties is a sugarcane drink made with lime.

We managed thanks to Nidhi to also get a few jobs done like replacing the wheels on one of our bags and the repair was completed in a couple of hours. We also made a couple of purchases in “Fab India” and “Cottons” and in another lovely bungalow boutique in the leafy suburb of Bandra on the way home.

We stopped for my first coffee in over a month at “Cafe Coffee Day” Andheri and then explored an amazing shop called “Beautiful” which sold everthing from toileteries to crockery and imported packaged foods.

Nidti and her mother in law made us another delicious dinner with pomfret fish and we finished the meal with more delectable mangoes.

After visiting the interesting film production offices of Nidhi and her husband Ashraf and seeing the trailer for the film they shot of the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet, we were dropped by their nice driver at the large Infinity Mall where we did some shopping, got some bargains and had lunch.

It was a productive six hours. An auto rickshaw took us back and we had a well earned rest. We had a wonderful seafood meal and great service later at Pebbles restaurant with the family.
After a very ample breakfast at Indigo restaurant the next day, Nidhi and Ashraf kindly arranged for their driver to take us to the airport for our 1hr 30min flight to Delhi. We were overwhelmed by the their hospitality and hope to be able to reciprocate it when we are eventually back in Perth.

On arrival in Delhi we were kindly picked up by Jyoti’s driver and then had a nice evening with her dining at a good Chinese restaurant. The flight the next morning to Kangra airport near Dharamshala only took another hour and a half. We could see the snowcapped Himalayan ranges in the background.

It was a rough ride up through Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj and past Dharamkot to Heini Village. We had to walk about 10minutes to our guesthouse as there was no road. Patricia our friend from Perth

(whois living in Dharamshala for a year proof reading books for the Tibetan Library) joined us for a meal at the guesthouse and stayed the night. It got quite cold at night after a hot day and the

next morning was also quite cold. We walked with Patricia down the mountain to McLeod Ganj where she showed us the good places to eat. We had a coffee and lunch with her at the Moonpeak cafe before she walked us to the entrance to the Dalai Lama’s temple complex. There was a lot of information at the museum there about Tibet and the struggle for their homeland. We saw where the Dalai Lama lived with an armed guard keeping watch,the temple and the prayer wheels. We also bought a couple of small souvenirs and a very large Yak shawl to keep me warm in the cool mornings and evenings.

A lot of Tibetans work in the small shops and stalls around the town in McLeod Ganj but there are also many Indian shopholders in the towns. The tibetan women wear an attractive wrap around long
dress with a striped apron.

In the evenings and mornings we could hear the clip clop of the mules and donkeys going to work behind the guesthouse. The family were lovely and included us in a birthday party together with

Patricia who had stayed there for many months three years ago. It was lovely being out of the hustle and bustle of town and also to experience life in a small rural village.

It was a fairly steep walk down to Mcleod Ganj to the shops, ATM etc. The Indian ATM machines are the best. You cannot leave your card by mistake as you need to insert it into the machine and then
pull it out to activate the transactions.

We decided to take a trip an hour away with Sandeep to the Kangra Fort which was in the process of being restored. Processions of donkeys and mules took the rocks to the top of the fort where the
workers were busy sorting the rocks. After the climb up and back we went on to “Norublingka” a beautiful centre set in lush gardens which keeps the Tibetan cultural traditions alive. They provide apprenticeships in tradional artforms of painting, applique and metal sculpture. There are more than 300 tibetans working in the centre which also has a nice cafe and a large temple. They have a large giftshop selling their products.

Sunday morning was a lazy one with doing a bit of trip planning before we went down the mountain to McLeod Ganj for lunch at Nick’s cafe. I bought some fresh cheese and some fruit and we caught a taxi back up the mountain. Most of the taxi drivers won’t go all the way up as the road is pretty bad so it was a steep walk up and across to our guesthouse “Jagatram Niwas”.

After breakfast on the balcony the following day we walked down to the Tibetan Library and Administrative complex which took us about an hour and a half (after stopping for coffee) to meet Patricia who lives and works there doing the proofreading for the Tibetan Library. The offices of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile are in part of the complex and also a lovely temple and monastery.

We had a delicious simple lunch sitting outside at the staff cafe.
We taxied back to McLeod Ganj for Rs100 and then after coffee another taxi Rs150 back up the mountain.
The weather for our four days there was beautiful and clear – hot during the day and cooler at night and in the morning. The morning we left the mist had rolled in and we had a nice trip on the
backroads with Bavinder past very green tea plantations down to the airport for our flight back to Delhi.
Ravinder Jyoti’s driver picked us up and we had a nice relaxing evening at home with Jyoti before she kindly arranged for her driver to take us back to the airport the next morning to fly Jet Airways to Dubai.

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