In the debris of Bali

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Bali

Interesting to know…

Bali is the only Hindu island in Indonesia. When the Islam came in 15-th century all the aristocracy and the priesthood of Java came here and established their Hindu bastion. The religion has remained unchanged for 500 years but the differences to Hinduism in India are obvious. Here the religion is mixed with local animistic beliefs and rituals and thus has been formed a specific, local form of Hinduism. For example people are not vegetarians and they even eat veal. People don’t put the typical red dot on their foreheads (sindur) except when they visit the temple and stick rice beans between their brows. Only one god, who represents the infinity, is acknowledged (Achintya) and the other: Vishnu, Shiva and the rest are just his manifestations.

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Ayutthaya – the ancient capital of the Siam Kingdom, ghosts and Chinese ship-wreck survivors, heavenly life on secluded beaches

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Buddha’s head intertwined in Banyan tree branches

18.01

A man in uniform takes us to the main highway connecting Chiang Rai with Bangkok. He is so overexcited he took hitchhikers that he is all the time chuckling and telling us the names of all the towns we were passing by. After 70 km we finally reach the long expected highway which will lead us to the beaches of the south. The mountains, tribes and small secluded roads are behind our back. Continue reading

Bodhgaya – under the tree of enlightenment, Kolkata – clean but boring, first train experiences in India

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Victoria Memorial

23.10
MAP Varanasi_BoodhgayaWe head to Bodhgaya, Bihar State hitchhiking. This again is a place of great importance to Buddhist community. The distance we have to pass is 200 km. and we are not sure we will be able to reach the city today. I really want us to succeed because today is my birthday and I want it to be filled with the energy of the place as the whole year ahead.

We cross all the ghats on foot and we reach a bridge over Ganga. We catch a shared rickshaw to Mughal Sarai – a small town close to which the highway to Kolkata passes by. From there we decide to catch another one because walking in the dust and the noise is not pleasant. Continue reading

Strange, surreal days at Rishikesh: the yoga capital of the world, close encounters with wild elephants and tigers, Swami Ji – the guru who eats three times a year

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Sunset over Ganga River

14 – 24.09

We stay one more night at the Gurdwara and then we relocate at the area where the ashrams and the temples are and where many pilgrims live. First we find a small ashram where they told us we can stay for free, but on the next day when we go there again, this time with our rucksacks, the superintendent says it is not possible. The foreigners here usually pay a room at the bigger, more commercial ashrams or are not let to sleep inside. We start to wonder what to do and think of sleeping under the trees as the Sadhu people do here when we see an old building that looks like an ashram. We go inside and ask whether we can stay. In the small room there are few Sadhu and a foreigner. Continue reading

India with manners, how we couldn’t pass 50 km. with a truck for 7 hours, apples and pears – the luxury fruits

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Road in the Himalayas

06.09

Nako is the last village on the road with Tibetan architecture. We start hitchhiking in the afternoon, but there are almost no cars passing by. After walking for 40 minutes on a steep, bending road a jeep takes us. It is for only 15 minutes of driving, but here this is serious distance for us. After that we start waiting and waiting and an hour and a half later the first empty car comes our way. Luckily they take us for quite a long distance. Continue reading

The long truck ride in the mountains of Kashmir, the good nun and the transition from Tibetan Buddhism to Islam

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01.08

It is really hard for us, but we manage to walk for three whole hours and reach the Phugtal monastery. In total we have walked for 12 hours, but it is totally worth it. Right before the monastery there are wine red cliffs and the region is very beautiful. The monastery itself is built in the cliffs and the temple complex is in a giant cave. It belongs to the “Yellow hats” sect – Gelugpa and is really impressive. Dates back to 14-th century. Continue reading

Mystic rituals at amazing monasteries, golden Buddha statues, secret magical temples and sleeping on the swampy wet ground before Sisir La Pass

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Views from Kashmir

14.07

After some intense cooking and a freezing bath in the river (it is absolutely necessary to wash oneself even in the cold water – 4-5 degrees Celsius (39-40 Fahrenheit) where I almost got hypothermic) we are ready to start hitchhiking. We go to see the monastery for one last time and we find a room with some very old writings on the wall which up to now was always closed. Continue reading