Nepal: Wanderings

Welp, here we go! Finally, I have the time to sit down and finish my tales from Nepal.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was completely on my own. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t nervous about wandering around on my own in a foreign country, but I was determined not to let my fears get the best of me. I decided to go with the flow my last two days, and just do whatever my heart desired.

Tuesday, after a delicious breakfast with Dil, I walked with him about 40 minutes into the heart of Kathmandu. Props to him, he makes the walk every day to and from work. Once we split, I headed to the main road that leads to Kathmandu Durbar Square. From the Thamel bus stop on Thamel Marg, it’s another 20 minute walk or so to get to the square, and the entire road is filled with shops. Colorful thangka paintings, jewelry, and handicrafts line the street and entice you to stop every 10 feet. If you’re looking for a souvenir in Nepal, this is the place to look!




It was still pretty early in the morning, so I was on a mission for coffee once I hit Durbar Square. I had seen on my map that there was a recommended coffee shop, Himalayan Java Coffee, so I stopped in! The coffee shop sits on the 2nd floor of an old building, right across from the old palace, so the view is pretty great. I stayed for about half an hour and watched everyone below getting their blankets and merchandise ready for the day.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is stunning, but sadly experienced a lot of damage from the earthquake in 2015. Everywhere I went in Nepal, you could see evidence of what happened and how they still haven’t recovered fully from it.








One of my favorite sights was Kala Bhairava Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali:
“Kali is the Goddess of Destruction and Dissolution in Hinduism, and she is one of the most popular goddesses in India. Kali is known for destroying ignorance, and she helps those who strive for knowledge of God. Her name means “The Black One” and the city of Calcutta is named in her honor.”
You can learn more about Kali here.
There were people praying, so I stood and admired their rituals. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching people practice their religions here, it’s quite beautiful! I saw the cutest little girl go through the motions of her prayer, and then ring the bells before walking off. S’cute.



Also, side note to anyone wanting to visit Kathmandu Durbar Square: You have to pay to enter (if I remember correctly it was less than $3 USD). Unless you’re me and walk past the ticket box and then ignore people saying hello to you. I didn’t realize I had to pay, so I just waltzed right in. Walking through to backtrack and leave, I was stopped at the other ticket box and felt really bad for not paying. Oops. Don’t be like me, kids.

After Durbar Square, I headed back up the winding streets to find something for lunch. I found a Korean restaurant tucked away and internally jumped for joy at the thought of kimchi. I ended up staying at the restaurant for close to 2 hours using their wifi. The food was delicious and cheap, but holy moly the kimchi was SO spicy! It was good though, and I ate most of it anyway. Living in India has definitely helped me to handle spices better!

After lunch I walked a few streets over to the Garden of Dreams, a huge garden tucked away in the middle of Kathmandu. You can’t see it from the outside, because walls, but it’s a beautiful space to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I think it was 200 NPR ($2) to enter, and then you could also buy wifi if your little heart so desired.

I love gardens, and I really love taking photos of plants. So I did that. Like, for a long time. I have way too many pictures of flowers on my hard drive now.





I definitely considered finding myself a comfy place for a nap, but I was getting bit by mosquitos, so I said namaste to the garden and started on my trek back home, where I chilled for the remainder of the afternoon.

Wednesday was my last full day in Nepal, and I decided to make it a relaxing day. I walked back to Thamel Marg for a mid day traditional Nepali massage appointment at Mandala Studio Yoga and Spa. According to the internet, typical Nepali massage is the golden way to attain longevity using special techniques that aim at lessening bone & lower back pain. Ooooh, aaaah, so relaxing!
Afterward, I had a light lunch at a super chill restaurant and hung out for a couple hours using the wifi (always take advantage of the wifi, people). I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for the rest of the day. I was almost out of money, so my options were limited. Ultimately, I decided to find myself a souvenir, because all I had bought so far was a Nepal sticker. I wanted a thangka painting in Dharamsala, but never could commit, so I decided to try and find one here that I liked. The great thing about handicrafts/art is that there is no shortage of them in places like Nepal and India. If you see something you like, but the owner isn’t willing to barter, you can find virtually the same thing right down the street. Also, pro tip: get off of the main streets. When I visit the shops in the side alleys, I have way better luck getting a good deal.

I saw a thangka shop down a small alleyway so I headed in. I was the only person in the shop, so the artist walked with me, showing me all the pieces. When I said I liked something, or wanted something similar, he dug through his endless collection and showed me each piece individually until we found the one. It was so beautiful, and I almost cried because I finally found this one thing that I loved that perfectly summed up my time in Asia every time I looked at it, but it was quite a bit over my budget. It’s no secret that many shops will try to overprice to tourists, but I do like to keep it fair trade. The money I had left, I felt was not enough for the painting, but I went out on a limb and told him that that was all I had. He sat for a moment, and finally after a few awkward seconds, he accepted my offer. Not only that, but he walked into a back room, and came back with a second painting that we was going to throw in for free. He said he could tell I really liked it and wanted me to have it. So, I’m now the owner of two amazing paintings, thanks man.

It looked like quite a lot of rain was rolling in, so I decided to end my day there since I had close to an hour of walking to do to get home. It never poured, but in true monsoon season, my walk back consisted of random rain showers and walking through flooding, muddy roads. I also made a friend, a little girl who was walking home from school. We walked about 20 minutes together, chatting about music and movies, until we had to go our separate ways.


Nepal was an incredible experience. Being my first solo trip, I had a lot of hesitations. I know people worry about safety, but I cannot stress how completely safe I felt there. My biggest fear every day was simply getting lost, but thanks to Google Maps, getting around was easier than ever. When I was confused, people were more than happy to help. Much like India, I couldn’t believe the hospitality of the people there. Like, crashing the party on our first day there…that would never happen in America. Not only did we crash the party, but we were taken on stage, and given food and beverage. Whaaat. Nepal, you are a cool place.

Sadly, while I was in Nepal, the country (along with India and Bangladesh) was being ravaged by some of the worst flooding they had seen in years. Thankfully it never hit my area too hard while I was there, so I was fine, but millions of people have lost their homes. It is estimated that 31 million people in India alone have been affected by the flooding, losing their homes, cattle and livelihood. During my time in India we did witness some small landslides in our area. The day after I left I read of a huge landslide that killed 46 people in Himachal as a result of the monsoons. All of this being said, please consider donating to causes that will help the people of South Asia. They have suffered huge losses, and the damage will affect them for many years. This is going to have a huge impact on food production and access to clean water (which was already limited).




Nepal: Tours and Temples

Coming to Nepal, I had no set plan for what I was going to do or see. Two nights before I arrived in country, I located some nearby temples I wanted to see on google maps, but that was the extent of my planning. There were also things I wanted to see that weren’t within walking distance but could’t justify the cost of a taxi. Thankfully, the vacation gods were watching and brought me Hannah and Patrick. Sunday was their only day in town, so we decided to rent a taxi for the day and see the top sites in Kathmandu!

Our first stop was Boudhanath Stupa, the largest stupa in Nepal. It cost $10 to enter, and it was 100% worth, y’all.


The entire area really bewildered me, actually. The stupa is located off of what was a very busy and loud road. There’s a main gate to get to the area that the stupa is in, and then theres an entrance to the stupa itself (but you walk on the…roof? I honestly have no idea how to explain it). When you enter the main gate, the noise immediately reduces, but once you enter the actual stupa area, the noise literally stops, even though you are still walking outside with no huge walls around you. I feel like I sound really crazy, but I mentioned it to Hannah and we stood for a second and she confirmed soooo if I’m crazy at least I’m not alone. The area around the stupa has shops, restaurants, hotels etc. Smack in the middle of all that is a beautiful buddhist temple.





Turn around from the temple and behold! The entrance to the stupa:





I honestly could have spent half a day at Boudhanath, just sitting and enjoying the day. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and refreshing. One UNESCO World Heritage Site down, bam!

The next stop on our Kathmandu tour was a temple. We found out when we got there that we couldn’t actually go in to the temple and we collectively decided the $15 ticket price wasn’t worth it so…we moved on. Sorry.

Onward! We drove to our furthest stop, about an hour away from where we were staying, to Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The entire ancient city is a UNESCO site, and it’s super cool. It’s like a huge, living museum. Aaaand now I’m going to throw some Wikipedia info at you because honestly it’s getting late and y’all know I’m lazy.

“Bhaktapur was the largest of the three Newar kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley and was the capital of Nepal during the great ‘Malla Kingdom’ until the second half of the 15th century. Bhaktapur has the best-preserved palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artworks.”


Unfortunately, Bhaktapur suffered a great deal of damage from the 2015 earthquake. They are working on restoring and rebuilding, but the evidence of such a tragedy is all around you when you walk through the city. Regardless, it was incredible to walk through it’s streets. We wandered around for a couple of hours, exploring alleys and temples.







For lunch we stopped at a local restaurant and had one of our favorite foods here, momos. Ugh, momos are so good, I honestly could eat them every day. Bonus that momos are super cheap, usually costing about $1 for a plate.

After lunch, we had a little more time before we needed to be home, so we decided to stop at Swayambhunath Stupa, aka Monkey Temple.


We didn’t spend a huge amount of time here, but it was definitely worth the visit. It’s actually free, but you can buy an optional $2 ticket to help support it, which we obviously did. Climb what feels like 500 steps and you are welcomed with a lovely stupa, prayer wheels and flags, and a killer view of Kathmandu.



And monkeys. Of course there are monkeys.


Monday I decided to take it easy. Hannah and Patrick continued on their journey to trek the Himalayas, and I went back to sleep after breakfast (priorities). After catching up on some much needed sleep, I ventured out on my own to grab food and check out Amideva Buddha Park. It’s actually right next to Swayambunath, and it wasn’t originally on my list of things to see but when I saw it as we drove past Sunday, I knew I needed to go see it. So, I walked for 40 minutes, in the heat of the day, down the dusty Kathmandu roads. Everyone here wears masks because of the dust and I so wish I had one. I’m pretty sure my lungs are 70% dust now.


Amideva is home to the largest buddha statue in Nepal. It’s free to see, and absolutely gorgeous in person. I just really can’t get over how beautiful everything is here. I mean really, my pictures don’t do anything justice. Everyone add Nepal to your list of places to go, you won’t regret it.






I found refuge from the sun and hung out for about an hour. I had a pretty great conversation with a 10 year old, watched the monkeys, did a little people watching, and of course was the subject of many pictures by locals. Another typical day in Asia! After all the excitement, I decided it was time for a late lunch and then the trek back home. I wanted to eat at a local spot, but I was so hungry that I went to the first place I found. After a satisfying meal of chicken momos and mushroom soup, I walked back home, washed up, and took a really glorious nap. By my standards, it was a perfect day!

Two days in, and Nepal has captured my heart!


Briana Takes on Asia: Nepal!

Namaste friends!

Today I said goodbye to India, the most magical country I have ever experienced, and said hello to beautiful Nepal! I have so much to tell y’all about India, but it will be in due time. I purposefully put the blog on hold for a bit, so I could experience India as it is without the thought and worry of blogging everything. I feel like I was able to be all there

So, Nepal! It’s a 5 day vacation for me! I have wanted to visit Nepal for quite some time now and being in India gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. Lucky for me, my boss is amazing and agreed I should have this chance to explore on my own. 

I landed in Nepal close to 1 PM, and my adventure started in the airport. I had a to do list before I could enter the country. The first task was to exchange my Indian Rupees for US Dollars so I could pay for my Visa. I tried to exchange in the Delhi airport, but the attendant told me to wait until I was in Nepal because he would have to charge me 400 rupees to exchange (a little inconvenient but I definitely appreciated the consideration?). I went directly to the cash exchange in the Nepal airport, to be told that they wouldn’t take my Indian rupees, but I could use my card at the next desk. So I scoot over to the next, where the man tried to tell me I couldn’t use a visa. He questioned why I am from US and didn’t have USD, which is when I informed him that I haven’t been home in months. Finally, he took my visa! So, visa receipt, check!

I actually had no idea what to do next, and after questioning a few people, discovered that I skipped a step and was supposed to fill out the application at a kiosk. Once again, I scooted over to where I was supposed to be, and mostly confusedly filled out an application for a visa. 

Finally, the last thing to fill out was an immigration form. Done and done. I walked up to the counter after watching the attendant turn away multiple people for not having all the documents they needed, and prepared to be told that I missed yet another step. To my luck, I had it all, so in to Nepal I went!

I met with my driver and was greeted by two other travelers staying in the same AirBnB, just my luck! Funny enough, Hannah and Patrick are traveling in the opposite direction as me. They are 2 weeks into their 5 months of travel. They came from China and will next be in India, and continuing west. Meanwhile, I’m coming from India and will be flying East to my final destination once this week is done. 

We settled in, had our afternoon tea, and decided to go do a little exploring before dinner. 

Nepal has already blown me away by its beauty. Of course, we’re surrounded by mountains and the Himalayas hide behind the clouds, much like Dharamsala. We walked past lush, green rice fields and spoke with the local children as we made our way through the winding streets. We found our way to the main road with a goal of finding some delish food. You don’t have to look too far, though.

We saw the dumplings this woman was making and immediately decided we needed them in our life. I got a plate full of veggie dumplings and some kind of soup for less than $1. I may or may not become a regular at this place during my stay here! 

We continued our wandering, and found The Party Palace. I was immediate intrigued. Really I just wanted to see what The Party Palace actually is. We walked into the gate while the people at the door stared at us and I was totally ready for them to turn us away because it looked like a wedding or something was going on. But oh no, instead, they smiled and insisted we come in to see what’s going on. 

We shuffled in to find all these beautifully dressed women and girls in their saris and music blasting. The men summoned over some nice ladies, and insisted we dance with them. I mean, while in Nepal, right? So, up to the stage we went, where we tried to imitate their lovely dance moves. We partied it up until more and more ladies joined us. Of course, I threw in my own dance moves and cracked up the ladies and people watching. 

They showered us with love and food. We found out they were literally celebrating women and all they do. It was a super dope women’s appreciation party! 

We had to get back home, so we said our goodbyes and went on our way. We easily found our way to the main road, but getting home proved to be a challenge. Despite all of us having maps downloaded on our phone, we could not for the life of us find the road, which apparently is not on the map *facepalm*. On top of that, it started pouring, and the roads were already getting a bit flood-ish. It took us about 40 minutes, but we finally found home again!

I also found this cool door, so I documented it for you all:

We had dinner with Dil and his family, which was so worth. They prepared us a traditional Nepali meal and it was so goooood! I have grown to love and appreciate Indian food, but it was nice to have a delicious and mild meal for once, ha! Before dinner, Dil’s family went out of their way to make us tea to warm us up from the rain. After dinner, Dil made us lemongrass tea with lemongrass from his garden. It’s tea heaven here!

That’s all for now. I’m mega tired, so I’m going to pass out. Tomorrow we will be doing a Kathmandu tour, and then Hannah and Patrick continue on their journey Monday. I’m excited to experience everything Kathmandu has to offer! It’s been one day, but the hospitality here is blowing me away. Everywhere I travel, I can’t believe how kind people are. The world is amazing, and the people of the world are equally amazing. Everyone should experience this, it will change your entire outlook on life ❤️

Peace out!


Dharamsala: Week 2 Recap

July 10th-July 16th

My second week in Dharamsala seemed to fly by! Here’s some highlights from the week:

Monday and Tuesday I spent at a local daycare with two of our volunteers, Phi and Elizabeth. As usual, the children stole my heart immediately. The class ranged from 2 to 12, and while it was a bit hectic at times, we successfully came up with activities that they could all participate in. Typically, the daycares don’t have the older kids, but they are out of school and will go to the daycares when they hear there are volunteers. They love interacting with us and getting a chance to learn about new things! We whipped out the bubbles the last 20 minutes of our day as a treat for the kids and they went crazy over them. Seeing the joy in the kids’ faces is always my “life is so good” trigger.






Wednesday I visited Harmony Through Education, a special needs school that Bela helped start. It wasn’t a totally typical day, as the children were preparing for their annual function that they would be having to raise funds for the school. I got a quick tour of the school, and then I joined my two teen volunteers as we watched some of the kids practice their dances for the function. After that was done, we spent the rest of our day wrapping gifts that the kids would get after the function was finished. We wrapped up right as lunch was starting, so I helped feed one of the kids while we were waiting to be picked up.


Wednesday afternoon we visited two different temples: one Sikh and one Hindu. They were great, I really love the temples here. Everyone is always so welcoming and they even invited us to join them for lunch. My favorite was the Hindu temple, Aghanjar Mahadev. It’s nestled in the mountains, right next to quite an impressive raging river (because monsoon season).








Thursday we visited Kangra Fort. Of course, Thursday was the first day that week that it hadn’t rained and it was blazing hot, so climbing the fort was extra fun. In any event, the views at the top made the climb worth it. I love Dharamsala and could spend my whole life here happily, but damn these hills killin’ me.






Friday morning, at exactly 3 AM, I woke up feeling like I was being stabbed in the head. I also felt a little sick, but shrugged it off and eventually fell back asleep. Friday I woke up and couldn’t even stand without feeling nauseous. I spent the next two days in bed recovering from a mystery illness that fell upon our entire house. Yay!

Friday night we had a special guest at the house


Hello there pretty lady


Finally, after two days of laying in bed, living off of toast, I felt semi normal. I ventured out with Phi and Lainey to McLeod Ganj for some shopping. Bonus Jonas: We found an Italian restaurant. India, I’m obsessed with you, but I’ve decided I’m not obsessed with your food. I needed a break and Nick’s Italian Restaurant gave me just that.



On the way home from McLeod, as we were descending the mountain, we saw a woman walking the first pug we had seen in India and we all collectively freaked out. Our taxi driver (my fave taxi driver), Rompi, pulled over. We thought he was just humoring us and letting us stare at the cute little doggo, but suddenly he points to it and says “thats mine.” AHHHHHHH

So, without further ado, Rompi’s happy puggo:


I ran up and immediately started petting it. Phi walked up a moment later and started to reach down to pet it, but then stopped and asked “is it okay? Is it friendly?” and the woman replied “no.” Just as she said it, the pug started barking at Phi. So…1) I have no self control and also should have asked but 2) I’m convinced now I’m a dog whisperer soooooo



Triund Trek: A Love/Hate Story

July 9th

Let me tell you about an incredibly fun/miserable thing I did. Is that even possible? Yes, apparently it is. So there’s this thing called hiking. I’m sure you have heard of it. You walk, for fun, up mountains, through forests, across rivers, etc etc. Why would anyone do this when naps are a thing? I don’t know, but for some reason everywhere I go I feel inticed to participate in this activity. 

So, prior to coming to India I had read about Triund Trek, which of course takes place in the mighty Himalayan mountains. “It will be fun” they said. “Anyone can do it” they said. 

I found a willing victim to participate with me and Sunday morning we were off bright and early! We took a taxi up to Guna Devi Temple, just beyond McLeod Ganj. We were told it would take 4 hours to go up, and 2-3 hours to get back down. I won’t say “sounds easy enough” because let’s get real, 4 hours of walking up a mountain sounds horrible to me. But, I was determined to make it to the top and have bragging rights of hiking the Himalayas. 

We were not even 20 minutes in when we needed our first break. We both had a hard time breathing due to the altitude. That plus my broken body made things difficult from the very beginning. I think we both started to realize this was going to be more difficult than we thought, and I was lowkey wondering if it would be acceptable to give up yet. I mean, we already had a nice view?

Guys, I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this hike was. In retrospect, the first 45 minutes was nothing compared to the rest. It began as a lush forest. It’s what I imagine the Pacific Northwest looks like, and Phi agreed. The trees were beautiful and the plants were so green! Then it got crazy. We reached a point where the trail disappeared at times. We climbed boulders, walked through rivers, scaled the edge of mountains, crossed paths with cows, horses, goats, and monkeys, and trekked through rain and mud, all up a steep incline. For over 3 and a half hours. We didn’t even know where the path was at some points and kind of just guessed. It’s a miracle we even made it to the top with my sense of direction, honestly. 

As you can imagine, I wore out very easily. Thankfully, Phi was awesome and let me take a break every 10 minutes. The hike was beautiful though, despite my misery. Every turn you made led you to a more incredible view. There were parts that we felt like we were straight out of Lord of the Rings, trekking to Mordor. We made some friends along the way. We crossed paths with a group of guys who were having their own personal photoshoot all the way up and we were cracking up watching them. We would get ahead of them, but then take a break and they would pass us, and so on. We wondered who would win our unofficial race (it was them by the way). 

I’m really thankful that I had Phi there, because she’s the only reason I kept going. I wanted to give up so bad. At one point, when I thought my legs wouldn’t carry me another step, I almost told her to continue and I would wait. Just as I was about to speak, she encouraged me to keep going, so I did. Neither of us knew how much longer we had left. It seemed no matter how far we climbed, the top was never in sight. We would ask people we passed how much longer, but got answers ranging anywhere between 4 more hours to 30 minutes (we got 30 minutes a lot and they were all liars). 

But, finally, we reached the top. We did it. We competed Triund Trek. 

And it was foggy so there was no incredible view. 

But no worries. We bought ourselves a drink and some snacks, found a spot on the grass to sit, and enjoyed a break. While we were buying our drink, we saw you could order food and we decided maggi (ramen) actually sounded amazing in the damp, cool weather. We headed back to the shop, found a spot inside, and posted up with our maggi until it was time to leave. We got there just in time too, because shortly after it started to pour, but we stayed nice and dry. As we were leaving, the sky cleared up a little and we were able to fit in a nice photo before the fog rolled back in. 

The hike back down was not so pleasant. In true monsoon-season-fashion, it was a downpour all the way down. Thankfully we had ponchos, so we stayed relatively dry, but the path became super slippery and dangerous. It was at this moment that we both started to question our decision to do this. 

We were supposed to be back at the bottom at 3 PM for our taxi. Due to the rain, we had to go super slow. At 5:30 we finally made it to our taxi. Phi was my encouragement getting up the mountain, and I became her encouragement going down. I could tell she was hurting, and miserable, and it was raining, and just not a great situation. 

So, 9.5 hours of walking up and down a mountain. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I’m glad I did it. Living with chronic pain and fatigue, there was a time that I thought I would never be able to do this, but here I am. Climbing Mt. Afadjato was a huge accomplishment for me last year, and I’m happy I can now add Triund to my list. 

I’ve been thinking about doing a hike when I get to Nepal, so I guess I’ve just gone crazy at this point. 

Dharamsala: Land of the Himalayas

July 3rd:

Finally, after an exciting, albeit exhausting weekend of travel, me and my group of teens made it to Dharamsala! We almost didn’t make it at all, actually. We left promptly at 8:30 AM and were met with the crazy Delhi traffic you always hear about and hope you never have to experience. We made it to the airport at 10:00, 40 minutes prior to our plane departing. I have never been so stressed out in my life. It would not have been I big deal if it were just me, but for the first time I was responsible for getting a group of volunteers to their final destination, after having already been delayed. I thought I was going to have a panic attack while we were standing in security because the man scanning bags kept casually getting up to walk around. I finally managed to flag down another employee and showed him our ticket (at this point we had about 20 minutes). They sped up a little but it was still frustratingly slow. Oh well, we made it to our plane just in time, and super bonus that my carry on actually fit in the overhead! 1 hour later we safely landed in Dharamsala.

The rest of the week is a bit of an exhausting blur. Jet lag got the best of me and I feel like I’m still adjusting to the time difference. Tuesday we had a great evening celebrating 4th of July. The staff cooked us a proper American dinner consisting of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and corn on the cobb! They also brought us the most epic sparklers ever and we found great joy in lighting as much on fire as we could handle, all while singing our national anthem. Our groups from Australia and Canada watched on with support but also slight confusion.

Wednesday began the first day of placement for me! I spent the week with my teen volunteers working with children from a migrant community. The community consists of about 10 families who have traveled from Rajasthan for work. They live in what is essentially a tent community for the majority of the year, but do go back to their villages during holiday. The school takes place down the street at a temple where the children are grouped by age and learn English, math, and other basic skills (dance parties are also a frequent occurrence). Just within my first week, I’ve noticed something about India that I had never experienced: the value of education. The children here are incredibly eager to learn as much as they can. It’s such a stark contrast from the attitude I’ve seen back home, where school is sometimes seen as a nuisance. They are technically on holiday due to monsoon season, but look forward to coming to “CCS School” every day to learn from the volunteers. We were taken to their village on Friday and I cannot even begin to tell you how hospitable these families were to us. It’s quite amazing to see these people that have so little, but are content with what they have. They all invited us to see inside their homes and offered us tea and places to sit. The children loved showing us where they stay! When they leave, they literally pack up everything they own, tents and all, and move back to their village until it’s time to come back.



This is Anil, my favorite little boy. He’s a bit of troublemaker at times, but gosh darn it he’s adorable and has a smile that will melt your heart.



The cultural activities for the week did not disappoint! Tuesday we visited Jagori Rural Charitable Trust, a local NGO that works to empower women in India, and also educate the public on organic farming and reversing the damage we have done to Mother Earth. We had a lovely talk with the head of the organization and she educated us on the struggles women face in India. I think I left slightly more feminist than when I came in but I don’t hate it? I’m also a little obsessed with the compound they have set up. It’s filled with adorable homes, plants, and flowers! It’s impossible to not feel like you’re one with nature there.

Wednesday we visited Norbulingka Institute, which is a Tibetan temple/cultural museum/Tibetan art center. I loved this place and wish I could have stayed for days. Not only did we learn a bit about Buddhism/Tibet’s culture, but we got to see the various art forms they practice there. Wood carving, wood painting, and thangka painting are just a few things they do there. The art work is so intricate and incredible, it’s truly something you have to see in person! Of course, we also got to visit the temple, and of course it was breathtaking.







Thursday we had a special guest in the house. While I was in Delhi I had the pleasure of seeing a performance of traditional dance, taught by a guru who is a friend of Bela and Monu. Unfortunately, her name escapes me, but her and her granddaughter flew to Dharamsala to give us an in depth class about the dance style and the meaning behind it. At the end of the class we got to practice a short stretch routine that is used and holy cow my legs were actually sore for days. These women have an incredible amount of body strength and control to do these dances.

Friday was the day I had been looking forward to all week: a trip to Dalai Lama’s temple! As some of my family knows, I’m weirdly fascinated with the Dalai Lama and while I have accepted I probably will never see him in person, his temple will be sufficient for now. Quite literally tucked away in McLeod Ganj, his temple overlooks the Himalayas and as soon as you walk in you feel at peace. We got to see a couple different temple rooms, but they were all essentially the same. Also, I touched the Dalai Lama’s seat. I asked Neha 3 times if it was okay and she said yes…so I did it. I also spun a giant prayer wheel, along with all the smaller prayer wheels surrounding the temple, so I’m feeling pretty englightened, you know?





So that’s it, folks! That’s my first week in Dharamsala. India has quickly captured my heart in a way that no other country has, and I’m very excited to explore more of the culture and the people here!




Namaste India!

July 1st

Well, well, well. The time has finally arrived! I can’t believe I’m way over here, on the other side of the planet! The journey getting here was long, and getting over a cold made it unbearable at times, but I made it!
My first flight was overnight from Peru to Houston. Of course, I couldn’t sleep, so I spent the night watching an array of movies (thanks, United). I had a bit of a hectic layover in Houston with baggage confusion, but 5 hours later I boarded my plane for Toronto. I had hoped to get a nap in, but our tiny plane hit some major turbulence and I don’t know how anyone sleeps when your plane is shaking all over the place (low-key thought I was going to die)?? Finally, after another 5 hour layover in Toronto, I boarded my last flight! This flight was the big one: about 14.5 hours on the plane total. I prepared for the worst when 1 hour in my legs became super restless. Nooooo! Thankfully, my exhaustion finally caught up to me and I managed to fall asleep, and by the time I woke up my legs were feeling better. Yaaaay! Shockingly, I slept for over half of the flight!

I made it through the Delhi airport and met with my driver and one of the teen volunteers. We walked outside and that was the moment I realized I wasn’t in Peru anymore because THE HEAT. OMG. If I didn’t believe in karma before, I do now. I spent a lot of days in Peru talking about how cold I was, and how I couldn’t wait to feel heat again but waaaiiittt maybe this is too much?? I’ll keep you updated on this when I make it back to Delhi.

I found out shortly after landing that 3 of my volunteers were delayed and wouldn’t be arriving in Delhi that night. I was going to spend an extra day there to accompany them to Dharamsala on Monday, which meant I had a whole day in Delhi! I figured I would just hang out at the flat all day, but to my surprise Jaggi arranged a day of sightseeing for me! So, in full jet-lag mode, I hopped in my taxi and was on my way!

My first stop was the Lotus Temple. I had seen pictures of it and had it on my list of places to see, but it exceeded my expectations once I got to see it in person.


Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures of the inside, so that’s all you get. Sorry pals.

Next stop was Humayun’s Tomb. I spent a considerable amount of time here because there was so much to see! Even in the rain, the building looks incredible!







*so I totally had the rest of this blog typed up with photos and all but I lost it to a horrible internet connection. Sooo the rest is a condensed version of what I originally said bc it’s 1:30 AM and I want to sleep 😅*

Next was india Gate! Oooh aaahh

Afterward I had lunch and headed back for a nap. Around 6 I got a call from Bela’s husband inviting me to a traditional Indian dance performance and how can you say no to that?

They have been training most of their life by a guru. The girl on the right is the granddaughter and will one day become a guru herself. Each movement, hand gesture, and facial expression has a meaning and tells a story. It was mesmerizing to watch!

Finally, it was time to pick up my remaining teen volunteers. We made it back to the flat around midnight and sleep came pretty quickly for most of us! The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Dharamsala but that’s to be continued.