North India (2016)

Ladakh & Kashmir | Manali & Varanasi

          WHERE : North Indian Himalaya, Kashmir Valley, Varanasi             
           WHEN : July - September 2016 
      OBJECTIVE : Royal Enfield Tour, Work (!) 
       DISTANCE : 2,000 kilometers / 1,243 miles
 CLASSIFICATION : Wheels (Motorcycle), Walks


Taking a Break, Nomad-style

I had been traveling for eighteen months non-stop. Hard. Turkey, Morocco, Mongolia, Rajasthan; multiple destinations within Nepal. My annual efforts to find a more permanent Nepali visa situation had led only to disappointment. The best option was (literally) indentured servitude to a fancy boarding school in Pokhara which has the cash to hire workers but demands doe-eyed, naïve volunteers to pay for the privilege instead. No thanks.

Instead of beating my head further against that familiar wall, I decided to use the resources I had–excellent Chinese and Indian Visas. I decided to work my way back to the USA for a holiday visit, first by way of India (3 months), then China (2 months).

This travelogue collects the Indian segments of that journey.

I had no real plan before my arrival, other than to start in the Himalaya, where I could live on the cheap and avoid the worst of the monsoon rains and summer heat. This is how it all came to pass:

  • Ladakh and Kashmir by Royal Enfield–a classic motorcycle route on some of the world’s highest roads. This would be a motorized repeat of my bicycle tour from three years prior.
  • An extended work-stay in Manali. I needed time to work through the huge to-do list that had accumulated around The Transglobalist.
  • A visit to Varanasi, India’s oldest and holiest city. I had been told that Banaras is India in its most distilled form. Love it or hate it, this is apparently the place to experience India most overtly and directly. I still have too much of the country to discover to opine on the accuracy of that view, but I can say Varanasi is in-your-face and chaotic. Place me firmly in the “love it” category.

And so it goes with India in general; it’s not for everyone. But for those that can open their minds and hearts to a different way of being and seeing, its riches are boundless.

Om shanti,
October 4th, 2016

Migrant Zanskari Boy

Every year, migrant families from throughout Ladakah, Kashmir, and Nepal travel to the high Himalaya to provide services for the seasonal workers and tourists who flood the region. This boy is from the remote Zanskar Valley area, staying with his parents at a temporary dhaba (inexpensive restaurant-hotel combinations) in Sarchu, a makeshift settlement about halfway between BaralachaLa and Lachulangla passes.


Images from the Road

Stories from the Road