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July 7, 2010 (Sent From McLeod Ganj, India)
The short flight from Cincinnati to New York and then 14 hours to New Delhi,
India was cramped and uneventful; one of our better flights. Our bikes and
luggage arrived safely with us which kicks this part of our tour off with
positive news. I find it stressful to land with only one bike or missing one
of our boxes.
We stayed in New Delhi a month which was much
longer than expected but we had to take care of a lot of medical things. The
private hospitals here are excellent. Their patients consist of India’s
growing wealthy class and foreigners. Most of the doctors had spent time
working in other countries, especially the USA and UK. The hospital staff
including the doctors and nurses could speak English well although their
Indian accent threw us some times. Everything looked and smelled like a top
hospital in the USA, that sterile smell is unmistakable.
After watching all this I decided it is much better to be in the hospital when no one in your family is actually sick. Many of the locals were dealing with urgent problems which caused unexpected somber family reunions. No matter what religion or ethnic background all families act the same when faced with this kind of a crisis. In the waiting room we saw an obvious family leader gather everyone together to discuss their situation. This is where the universal human bond of love in ones family is on display. We have seen it all over the world. It is the very thing that makes us all human.
Free public hospitals are available for Indian citizens but the waits are suppose to be huge and the equipment about 10 years old but to most poor Indians this care is very welcome.
One day we walked over to the train station to see what it would take to get our boxed bikes on the train. The station was jammed packed with bodies. Scam artist tried to make us believe the ticket window was closed, broken, or some other lie. They wanted to take us to a place where we would buy an expensive ticket through a travel agent and they would get a percentage of the sale. We were approach by a dozen such scammers before we found the international ticket window and knew it wasn’t closed. I could not imagine all this confusion while we had big bike boxes and gear in tow. We agreed that it would be wiser to buy our train tickets ahead of time, without our luggage in tow.
The next day we read the headlines in the local newspaper “Two die in stampede in New Delhi train station” http://bit.ly/d4DlKe After reading about the seasonal surge in people riding public transportation we decided to hang out in New Delhi a little longer.
Both of us made good use of the extra time. We had filed an extension for our USA and Arizona taxes so Cindie was able to finish and file electronically. Our business taxes are complicated; to say the least. I feel very lucky to have a smart wife who does this for us. Cindie Travis is again awarded the Down the Road Publishing’s employee of the month. She seems to win every month. I had the easier job of preparing our 3rd book to be sold in PDF eBook version. (see http://www.downtheroad.org/Publishing) We are working on versions that can be read on Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad.
But really, all these excuses about keeping us in New Delhi would not have stopped us if we really wanted to leave. The real problem was we did not know where in India we wanted to go first.
We usually take a lot of time to research an area before we land in a new
region or continent but we were so busy publishing our new book and
preparing our bikes/gear that planning our multi-year India and neighbors
trip had to be put off until we were sitting in our New Delhi hotel room.
Here we poured through our guide books trying to figure out where we would
like to go.
Mcloed Ganj and Dharamsala are famous because they are the home of the
exiled Dalai Lama and what is left of the free Tibetan government. We chose
this place because it was pleasant and with the coming monsoon season we
wanted a cool retreat where we can do some hikes in-between rain storms. We
were here a couple days before we found a basic apartment for $160/month and
plan to stay until mid September when we start riding through the Indian
Himalayas towards Nepal.
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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