Water dribbled onto my head, waking me up in the middle of the night. Startled, I looked around and quickly realized that it was raining. I rolled over and wrapped my tarp around my body, figuring I could tough it out. Then a flash of lightning lit up the sky, followed by a loud thunderclap. Several other tents glowed as their occupants scrambled to put on their flys while wearing their headlamps...… Read More »
Katie and I had an amazing month of trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Along with the gorgeous scenery and the extreme physical challenge of hiking to the 5416-meter Thorung Pass, the people were the highlight of our trek. Those who lived along the trail were extremely friendly, as were the other trekkers we met. And among them were today's guests, Martijn and Manon. We made some time a few days after finishing our trek to record a podcast and reminisce our month in the mountains.
The Dalai Lama spoke for an hour; his message was mostly about creating peace on Earth. He seemed to be winding down his time on this planet – he made it clear that he was from the twentieth century and now it was time for the twenty-first century folks to take over. He was humble, too. At one point he said that if he thought of himself as the Dalai Lama, he felt lonely. But if he thought of himself as a human, then he had seven billion others to share this life experience with. He spoke in English for this whole hour. During his speech, monks walked through the crowd, passing out bread rolls and pouring cups of yak milk tea. It was savory, not sweet, but still delicious, and a nice gesture.
Yangshuo, in northeastern Guangxi Province, is a part of China that everyone should see. Magnificent gumdrop hills dot the landscape. You can climb to the top of some of these peaks for great views of the region. This is also where many traditional Chinese artists gain their inspiration. Quite often, those beautiful paintings of emerald hills and frothy waterfalls are made in the villages along the Li River. The journey from the giant southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen takes less than a day. If you want to relax for a weekend, Yangshuo is a great bet.
My guest for this episode is Honey Sherma, from Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. He has traveled to every continent except Antarctica on cargo vessels. We discussed his life, both on the high seas, and in small towns in India. A large part of our conversation was focused on dhabas, those wonderful shops/guesthouses that always seem to pop up in the middle of nowhere in India. I like the concept of the dhaba, and the conversations that take place in them, so much that I even considered changing the name of this podcast to “Chai and Chat with Dan”.
...I found a group of women from my tour and they invited me to have lunch with them, near the edge of one of the lakes. They were extremely nice and insisted that I take their food. I ate pig spine and chicken gizzard. They refused to try my peanut butter. I looked around and noticed that they were all enjoying themselves immensely. Maybe, just maybe, I was beginning to understand something about Chinese culture: This was exactly the nature experience most Chinese wanted. They valued shared experiences, something they could talk about later with each other. And they wanted to observe nature from afar, like they were watching it on a really high definition TV. Whereas I (and most Westerners, I imagine), wanted to be a part of nature, to walk through it alone, to listen to the chirping of birds and the blowing of wind, to feel snow crunching under my boots, to smell the flowers, to camp outdoors, to really take it all in, not just look at it. Maybe that was why I was frustrated and everyone else seemed happy.