Diwali, Rangoli and Lights in Varanasi

I wake up in Kolkata at 2:30 am to go to the Howrah station to start for Varanasi. Varanasi, formerly Benares, is located on the left bank of the Ganges. It is considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. I asked the Varanasi hotel manager if they could pick me up at the station because it is difficult to find in Varanasi and cars do not have access to the city center.

I arrive in the city at late night! Varanasi is a very lively city. There are lots of vendors in the streets, colorful facades, sacred cows on every street corner, goats, wandering monkeys. Each scene of life seems to be a painting of India as we imagine it in the scene from a Bollywood movie! It's a whirlwind! Luckily I asked the hotel to pick me up.

A rickshaw sent by our guest house awaits us and leads us, through the monster traffic jams into the old town. A guy called by the driver then loads our bags on his head and guides us through the maze of little streets filled with people to the guest-house. It is sometimes difficult to follow as the crowd is compact in places!

We finally arrive in a dark alley. The hotel is nice and the room has a small balcony with views of the Ganges. The guy at the hotel told me to pay attention while going to the balcony because the monkeys sometimes try to enter the rooms!

Diwali, Rangoli and Lights in Varanasi

Day 2

Today is Diwali! We have breakfast with coffee, scrambled eggs and lassi on the terrace. After breakfast we go to the city looking for a temple that my father visited four years ago. As as a clue I only have a photo of the interior. We finally find the temple in question with the help of the inhabitants. Its name is Kedareshwar. Inside, a priest makes us offer offerings and recite prayers around the different deities.

Then we go in search of the Durga temple. We visit other areas of Varanasi which are a little quieter than the one where our hotel is located. The streets are even more colorful and it's beautiful! We pass in front of Anand Bagh, a small park. We go back to our neighborhood to go to lunch.

We go through the alleys, and as we are here during Diwali there are a lot of people on the streets. We climbed to the viewpoint that is installed just above where the eternal fire remains in Varanasi. We return to see the stalls with the wood stacked, ready to be sold. We continue the tour, now we see the beautiful Nepali mandir that is near there.

In the afternoon we go to the ATM to withdraw money. In the bank they are preparing the decorations for Diwali. Next we go to visit the Varanasi University in an auto rickshaw. The university is huge! The park in which are the buildings of the university is very nice. There are large avenues with trees all along! It's so quiet and clean here. I feel good compared to the hustle and bustle of Varanasi!

We wanted to visit the museum but it is closed because of the Diwali festival. After that we decide to go to see the Kashi Vishwanath temple. We had to go barefoot and leave our bags in lockers outside. Everything is forbidden inside the temple except money. A priest must accompany us and of course we have to make donations for the temple. There are hundreds of people waiting to pray there.

Then we stop to drink a chai served in a small earthenware pot. We leave to go to lunch and order a thali! In the afternoon I wanted to attend a yoga class but the same is not possible because of the Diwali festival. So we go for a walk. For Diwali I see a lot of people in the shops that usually are empty. People buy a lot of decorations and offerings.

And we walk through the ghats, watching scenes of daily life. We go back through the alleys of the Bengali neighborhood, where we see a kali puja pandal. We continue walking, with its stalls and alleys. We had to be careful with the firecrackers in Diwali. Children do not hesitate in throwing firecrackers in the middle of the street, when we pass by.

We go back down to the ghats. It is a very photogenic city. We go south, towards the Assi ghat, one of the largest and most important. We go and eat right there on the Assi Ghat at the restaurant. The biryani was very good and abundant, we could not finish. When we finished eating, we walked back to our hotel through the ghats.

In the evening we come across the Ganga Aarti. When we arrive at the Dasashwamedh Ghat, we are in front of a huge fair. We see a lot of boats, sadhus, pseudo gurus and seers who want to put a red dot on the forehead, pilgrims and tourists of all kinds and lots of cow dung everywhere!

The ceremony is celebrated by priests who pray to honor the river. There is music, priests sing (pilgrims too) and perform a whole bunch of rituals with smoky and inflamed objects. We go down to the shore to see the ceremony closer. It's pretty with all those floating candles and boats that sail on the Ganges. In the end the priests distribute sweets to the devotees.

We put a little candle in the water in the Ganges. After the ceremony, we walk a little in the streets. Diwali has begun in Varanasi! We see the rangolis at the entrance of the houses, courtyards, shrines and other buildings. Intended to show warm hospitality, rangoli is drawn on the ground with rice flour as a sign of welcome and to repel evil spirits. Colored powders are also used to form geometric shapes.

While strolling in the streets, a family invite us to come in their house to see their pretty rangoli. All the streets, and all the shops are decorated with candles, garlands of light. It's beautiful! The temples are of course not left out. Not very hungry after the big thali this afternoon, we take lassi. The tradition being to buy sweets, we buy some!

The contrast between the festive evening and the beauty of the illuminated streets, is striking. The owner of the hotel invite us at 9 pm on the terrace! And there we see fireworks all around. The hotel employees bought lots of small lights and lanterns so that we all participate together in the festivities! It's a unique moment!


Day 3

The alarm sounds again at 4:30 in the morning, but we do not care. Today we have the boat ride at dawn on the Ganges. Instead of looking for the boat, we decided to hire the tour through the hotel, for a duration of an hour and a half. They told us that at 5 o'clock, we should be at the hotel reception.

And at that time we were leaving two Canadians, a couple from Taiwan and we reach the ghat, to ride our boat, to navigate the Ganges, in silence. First we go to the Manikarnika Ghat, where we can see the lit pyres, as life and death take their course. Then we turn around and go to the Assi Ghat, passing through all the other ghats.

The bustle, begins to seize the ghats. We are spectators of life, of those scenes we have seen before on the Discovery Channel. And we see a different, magical sunrise. The fog dissipates and the sun appears.

At 7 o'clock in the morning or so, we finish the walk by the sacred river. We have seen the ritual of death, but also that of life in the river, of the ablutions, of how people wash their teeth, how they wash their clothes. We see the joy of the people when dipping themselves into the Ganges.

The jetty is five minutes from the hotel. We go to the room, clean up a bit. In Varanasi it's quite hot, with humidity. Then we went up to the terrace for our breakfast with coffee, tea, omelette and pancake. We go back to the Manikarnika ghat. We climb to the same place yesterday and we remain absorbed for a while.

We continue as we want to travel now to the ghats that are farther north, which are much calmer. We get to a point where we cannot go as clothes are spread on the floor to dry. So we turn around and retrace the path.

We are now in search of the restaurant as the walk has awakened our hunger. So we reach one that is more than 100 years old, a charming place with walls full of photographs of people who have passed by. We drink lassis. While we were there, we saw two processions passing through the street towards the main crematorium.

We also eat pakoras with onion and mashed potatoes, biryani, and plain naan. And we go back to the ghats, again in the direction of Assi Ghat, looking at everything. We see kids playing cricket, while others play cards.

It begins to get dark. Today we want to see the Ganga Aarti in another smaller ghat with fewer people than in yesterday. We reach the Kedar Ghat. Here, there was only one priest. It is true that there were few people and I could tell that it was more authentic, more genuine.

We were just a handful of tourists, but we liked more than yesterday, which was more showy and entertaining. This was too solemn and ceremonial. And we returned to have a lassi. And as it is the Diwali, we see many firecrackers and rockets.


Day 4

At 4:30 the alarm goes off. It's our last day in Varanasi and we want to take advantage of it. When we prepared the trip, on one of the days in Varanasi we had planned to go to visit Sarnath, one of the four holy cities of Buddhism, which is about half an hour away. But having missed a day because of the train delay, we prefer to discard this visit and continue to enjoy Varanasi.

We go silently for the ghats. It is not even 5 o'clock in the morning and there is already a lot of people. We want to see the Aarti ceremony that is celebrated at sunrise on the Assi Ghat and there we go. The truth is that it is very beautiful, with the songs, the Ganges in the background, and everything looks like a postcard.

At the end of the ceremony, the songs begin and after these, a yoga class to which anyone can join. When we had enough, we went back through the ghats one more time. We passed again through the Harishchandra Ghat.

And we advance, slowly, as if wanting to record all the images in our eyes. We have enjoyed every walk through the ghats, every ceremony, and every puja. Varanasi has loved us, despite what it cost us to arrive. Despite having lost one day, we have found a fascinating city.

As we have time, we approach to book the car to the airport. We bought some last memories and returned to eat at our hotel, with some pakoras, noodles, and plain naan. We spend time at the hotel until the transfer time. The taxi driver arrived and accompanied us to the parking lot where he had the car without helping us with a backpack.

In just under an hour we arrived at the airport and in less than an hour and forty-five minutes, I land in Delhi. We hired a prepaid taxi, to take us to the ​​Paharganj area, where our hotel was. We dined right there a chicken sandwich, a pizza and go to sleep. The trip is coming to an end.

Trip to the Kalasha Desh and Hunza Valley in Chitral

They are considered a pagan people. They drink alcohol, have light skin, blue eyes and practice an animist type of religion. All this is limited to an area of ​​a few square kilometers in the Hindu Kush, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the midst of a delicate territory. We speak of the Kalash, ethnic group of ancient origins. We are in the western offshoot of Karakorum, the starting point of the most majestic mountain range in the world, the Himalayas.

It is an area of ​​great landscape value, with a deep symbolic meaning. It is not in Kashmir, that some believe where Jesus Christ was buried? A little further to the east, in the Indian Garhwal rises the Meru. It is considered the axis mundi, the center of the universe. Then further north, isolated in the heart of the Tibetan Plateau, in view of Lake Manasarovar, stands the Kailash.

It is the crystal mountain able to catalyze the religious experience of the Indian and Buddhist universe. The ancient Kafiristan represents, in fact, the intoxication, the love, the poetry and all the pagan sentiments that we have inherited from the civilization.

Seldom does one have the opportunity to establish contact with people who have escaped the overwhelming machinery that drives history? It is very difficult to study the historical processes by which human communities acquired the rites and customs that make up what we know in today's culture.

Despite the strength with which some ideas, religions or empires have flooded the world, drowning in their brisk waters primitive cultures, there is still room, miraculously, for a few people to preserve their own. An example of these people, perhaps the one that best serves to reflect human impermeability against foreign impositions, is the Kalasha tribe.

This tribe is hidden in a small region in the crumbling heart of the Hindu Kush mountains. It has culturally survived great empires such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan or the British Raj. They have not knelt before any god announced from the East or the West.

Islam, Christianity or Buddhism have passed by without disturbing them. And to communicate, they still speak their own ancestral language, because neither Persian nor Turkish, sound good on their lips. The Kalasha are, and I hope they continue to be, are a true living fossil of the Aryan race. My encounter with them is a golden page of this trip to the antipodes.

My first days in Pakistan were spent in the mountains of the paradise valley of Hunza. Here its stimulating nature and spirited inhabitants (followers of the Islamic sect of the Ishmaelites) were the ideal environments to make important decisions regarding my trip. For the first time in a while, I had no concrete plans on how to continue my adventure. I only knew that my natural route to the east had to be carried out in spite of everything. But the area I was in now offered innumerable possibilities to visit mysterious places and reconcile me with old traveler's wishes.

So, I decided about the trip to Kalasha. I learned about them for the first time a few years ago thanks to a book by an anthropologist. It took us 22 hours to travel by jeep from Islamabad to Chitral, the largest town near the Kalash Valley. The journey takes an eternity. I will remember it until old age as a delusion of checkpoints, interrogations, frost and absolute discomfort.

The moving hospitality of people should also be included in the list. The race to Chitral continues throughout the night, including a three-hour stop, before the most challenging stretch in the mountains. Each stop will be accompanied by a cup of green tea and a cigarette. We ascended a steep road and passed through the tunnel of Lowari, essentially a long, glorified cave that crosses the side of a mountain and which barely illuminates the odd lonely lamp.

To get to their domains, I had to move to Chitral, a city of northwest Pakistan at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains. Arriving there from Gilgit was quite an adventure. The first day I traveled in a public bus that succumbed on the first hills of the mountains. The overloaded bus travels hard on the dirt road and when we try to wade a stream, the wheels end up between the stones.

We have to get off, lighten the vehicle and push it out, over the ford. The temperature is 5 degrees but two guys in sandals go into the water up to the ankles anyway, to place some stones in front of the wheels, so as to facilitate the resumption of the journey. A few moments later we manage to get us out of the way. The city of Chitral is now near. The second day, however, was a grotesque the road that had to be followed. The only way to get around was by 4x4.

On this trip, I have moved, except by plane, in all kinds of vehicles even animal pulled vehicles. But until then I had not done it in a way that made me feel more ridiculous. The place of the 4x4, in the end, was standing in the center of the convertible rear, on sacks of grain piled badly. It was fitted in the middle of a chassis of a large vehicle that the 4x4 transported in the high, tied precariously.

In each curve, or with each pothole (there were thousands on the road), it seemed that the chassis was going to be thrown violently, taking me with it, or worse, sectioning my body cleanly in two halves. To make matters worse, I had to endure the laughter of hundreds of children and not so children who were excitedly surprised to see me pass. They shouted jokingly when they saw me. I felt like the carnival king. Only instead of a beautiful multicolored float, I was holding onto a rusty chassis that threatened to dethrone me from one moment to the next.

Finally, I arrived at Chitral. The streets of Chitral were dirty with melting snow and lined with markets where everything was sold, from televisions to finely spun local wool. For decades Chitral and the Kalash valleys were considered a haven of peace. From here I went the next day, to the Kalasha valley of Bumburet. It was a few kilometers away but I had many hours of travel in another 4x4.

The jeep trip starts at the first light of dawn. On the thermometer hung on the wall outside the hotel are marked two degrees. The view of the doors of the vehicle, in tarpaulin, does not bode well. The first few kilometers are the worst, scourged by strong drafts of icy air that numb my legs. The view of the majestic Tirich Mir (7706 m) to the north is magnificent and is the excuse for a break in the sun.

The driver shows us a picturesque bridge over the river, continuing on the opposite bank along a dirt road that goes up the mountain ridge. Here the speed drops sharply. From time to time we must approach the stony edge of the roadway, to leave the passage to vehicles coming from the opposite direction. At the mouth of the bridge on the Ayun River, we stop at a police checkpoint. I show the passport and the authorization obtained the day before at Chitral's office. I leave my name in the umpteenth register, and the trip resumes in the direction of Bumburet.

There, of course, I had my first contact with the Kalasha. However, despite the fact that I was able to ascertain that I was the only visitor in the entire valley, they received me with a certain disinterest or indifference. Not in vain, this tribe, which is in itself notoriously proud, is relatively used to foreigners, especially to anthropologists, journalists or undefined guests like me.

In any case, the human landscape had changed completely in comparison with Chitral. I could immediately see the high social status enjoyed by the Kalasha women as opposed to the indiscriminate concealment of the women of Chitral. Later, a Kalasha man would convey to me a popular saying of his tribe according to which the men of Chitral keep their wives as if they were gold from Badakhshan.

In Bumburet I stayed for two days at a Kalasha inn. I shared the mossy wooden building with the sleeping innkeeper. There was another man who by his looks could well pass for German or Danish, with his pale skin, broad square forehead, blue-gray eyes, and straight, light hair. It was he who indicated to me, while we were tasting a taara base liquor made by the kalasha, for whom alcohol is not forbidden, from wild berries, that if we wanted to see Kalasha people living in a pure state, it would be best to go walking to the valley of Acholga. Here still live a few families in full nature, without any signs of civilization.

Indeed, in the valley of Acholga, civilization is a difficult term to pronounce. Just the fact of getting there walking and occupies you all day, especially if, as happened to me, you lose descending the slopes of the mountains that hover over the valley, enclosing it in a green abyss from which flow the waters of the raging Acholga river. So closed is the valley, that the same river does not become visible until one is about fifty meters away from it.

In the late afternoon, my concern about the possibility of never reaching the village increased my fatigue. I found a "path" that descended abruptly down a virtually vertical mountain slope, which finally led me to the banks of the mountain.

The first human beings I encountered were two Kalasha girls. They were so scared when they saw me, that they ran terrified and disappeared among the corn fields. I thought it was not a good start to get to know the Kalasha better. But at the same time, I had the rewarding feeling of having realized an exceptionally optimistic expectation in their conception. It is that the people I would meet would feel, at least, so much amazement at the see me as myself

Luckily for my tired bones, not all people reacted the same as the girls. Of the five inhabited houses that I could count in the whole area, I asked in one of them if we could stay, of course with gestures and addressing the head of the family. The man, a peasant dressed in the traditional Pakistani way, with a dirty shalwar (a suit consisting of a knee-length nightgown and pants of the same color) and wearing a pakol (a typical beret from northern Pakistan and Afghanistan), gave a half smile.

It accompanied with a slight tilt of the head, indicating that we could not remain in his house. While conversing with the man, I could feel how he was being scrutinized by his wife. She worked inside the house-hut, and by the two girls who ran scared a few minutes ago. They turned out to be his daughters.

Nevertheless, he asked me to follow him and he took me to his neighbors' house, a mere thirty meters upstream. There he gave me directions, counting on the approval of the smiling neighbors, that I could stay, to my surprise. He disappeared into the thickness of the cornfield, as his daughters had done minutes before when he saw me arrive.

The family that decided to give me shelter was the archetype of traditional tribal family. Their way of life was a whole display of everyday customs "professionally" carried out. It was composed, as far as I could tell, by two couples, one of whom had two children, a boy and a teenage girl and the other a single son. Both couples were related by the two women, who were sisters. They moreover, were the ones who took care of any domestic task.

They lit fires, prepare food and do the knitting. The men were in charge of maintaining the grain crops that surrounded the house and of shepherding the few goats they had. The house itself, built with logs of cedar wood and mud, was an elaborate example of self-sufficiency. It was composed of the main cabin, with a flat roof, which served as a warehouse and also to shelter from the cold in winter.

Adjacent to this was the porch where the goats slept and the family in summer. In front of it was an area of ​​about twenty square meters that belonged to another room located on a lower level. It took advantage of the pronounced unevenness of the soil, in which the forage for the only cow they had and which they kept was dried in the sun. There was a small corral located also on the lower level and with which one had to be careful not to fall inside.

We meet a shepherd-shaman buried for years in a mountain hermitage. We reach it after a hard climb. His hut is on top of a cliff with a panoramic view on all four sides. He is covered in rags but his gaze reveals a magnetic force. He is surrounded by woolly dogs that look like Afghan hounds and other shepherds. He offers us some tea and a bit of chapati (a thin grilled bread) topped with a tasty dessert.

He wants to show me the famous dizi lawat - the rocks of creation - where they offer water, milk, wine, goat's blood and incense of saras (juniper) to Sajigor, the god of the peaks. Our king wants to convince us to stay in the mountains promising that with a full immersion of a few months I can become a shaman. I go downhill thinking about that offer.

When the night came, with its luminous stars, the women busied themselves in preparing the dinner. It consists of fried corn cakes and fresh (crumbled) goat cheese. For dessert, there was sun-dried apple pieces and tea with milk. Nothing more, nothing less. To this day, and considering the state of exhaustion in which I was, this simple pittance is one of the tastiest delicacies that my humble palate has ever enjoyed.

We spent the days recording and the nights with our guests. New Kalash friends passed each night. We ate with them plate after plate of rice, dal, tomatoes, and naan before exchanging songs. They sang evocative chants that the inhabitants of the mountains had passed from generation to generation.

After a week of being there, our hosts invited us one night to go to their cabin to drink and dance. One man played the flute, another the drum, and there was a small space to dance. The homemade liquor was passed from hand to hand in old Coca-Cola plastic bottles, along with a little Nazar to keep spirits high. Every time a new song started, a guard would come forward to dance with me or one of my friends. We strutted from one side to the other, clapping and snapping our fingers with the shrill sound of the flute.

There were several more parties as well throughout that month. The old plastic bottles, the flute player, the percussionist.

When we visit Kafiristan we are seduced by the beauty of kafir women. They smile at us without chador and without veils. To make themselves more beautiful, they wear majestic kupas, made of wool, silver, and shells. And they dye their eyes with black kajal and red elderberry sauce. On the spring festival the Joshi I saw her dancing the zabum. Lit by the roar of the drums they turn on themselves like spins until they are exhausted. The body is shaken by a sacred tremor that the kafir call umbulu. The look is in the sky. It is an ecstatic dance.

In the autumn I saw wine. The onjesta mosh, the virgin children, start to press the grapes into tin vats. The work is then completed by the elder brothers. It is preserved until December for the ritual of the solstice festival. The vine grows clinging to the walnut trees and the grapes ripen to dizzying heights. The cultivation of this alpine grape refers to a new legend.

The wine for the kafir is an ambrosia offered to Balumain, who at the end of winter returns to Kafiristan. I wanted to celebrate the chaumos there, the winter solstice festival. In the days of the eve they prepare the shishao (bread stuffed with walnuts and cooked by virgin boys), and the kuturuli (sweets in the form of female genitals), which are offered to Kushumai, goddess of fields and love.

And on the day of the ditsh - of the great purification - they make baths of blood, fire and icy water of torrent and still juniper fumigations. To protect this ritual purity, the kafir retreat to their villages by imposing a ban on getting close to everything that is impure. I too had sprinkled myself with the blood of the sacrificial kid, blessed with the juniper incense and purified with a nice stream bath.

They explained to me that this purity fanaticism is an intelligent cure that reinforces villages and cafir culture. Taboos, baths, and diets are antidotes against diseases and misfortunes. Dances and parties are a way to reinforce the group and alleviate social conflicts.

In fact, the festival recalls in some ways the orgiastic feasts of the ancient Greek-Roman world. The wine obtained by fermentation is drunk at the winter solstice, called Chaumos, during days when it is used to get drunk to approach the divinity. It is interesting to note that during the year the population no longer consumes wine, which therefore takes on exclusively a ritual meaning. The chaumos is symbolized by the burning of a pine shingle block full of enemies and other demons.

The holy night of the solstice is also the night of sacrifice. Guided by the mighty budalaks - the shepherd kings - I climb into the mountains invoking Balumain. To reach the sacred rocks, thrones of Balumain, we climb a gully without traces of the path. The most sacred place is the wildest and the god of the solstice chooses to land every year on a group of anthropomorphic rocks at the top of a landslide.

Each householder brings a billy goat to sacrifice: I too have a nice red billy goat. The goat will be sacrificed when his body is shaken: a sign that the deity takes possession of the victim. The tremor can infect the dehars and the most sensitive young people who fall into a trance, manifesting their shamanic vocation.

Finally, among the mosques that advance in a maze of small valleys, the sacred jestak-han is a temple, slaughterhouse and town hall. It is the seat of Jestak, that does not disdain offers of kids during the Chaumos. The Chaumos lasts about two weeks and is conceived as a series of acts of purification and propitiatory rituals to visit the great god Balumain.

On the first day, fires with juniper wood are lit everywhere. Old baskets are burned and young men's parades are formed which "trot" and nod, to attract the god, who always appears on horseback. From the beginning, the obscenity explodes, with all its vital charge. On the second day the women wash their hair and renew their kupas, the beautiful headphones adorned with shells and colored beads. Bread is baked in the barn.

The third is the day reserved for insults, among the girls of the different villages. It is a war of words that lasts until night, to which young males assist, ready to appreciate the fantasy of this or that. Then comes the day of the cooking of the beans, that of the pack of small goats with bread crumbs and the repainting of the friezes adorning the jestak-han.

It follows the day of the return of the dead (to whom food must be offered) that closes the first phase of the party. Then begin seven days of abstinence, ablutions, and purifications for all men, women and children, during which any stranger must leave the Kalash valleys. Finally, the day of the great sacrifice arrives.

Dozens of goats are ritually slaughtered in front of the mahandeus, the altar of the great god, from whose stones stand four horse heads, carved in the wood. And at this point the "tremors" can be observed among the young, interpreted as signs of a possession that reveals shamanic attitudes. The farewell to Balumain will be celebrated by a procession of women each with a peacock feather on the kupas.

The stepped village is built halfway up the mountain and on top the stalls of the goats that occasionally welcome the suchi, the fairies that embody the fertile power of Mother Nature. Higher up, huge boulders radiate the male and solar force of Mahandeo and Balumain. The fairies reside in the purest lands of the peaks. They protect the Markors (the ibexes), the dehar (the shamans), the shepherd kings and all the naked and wild nature of the high mountain. The sacred peaks are a taboo place. It would be a real desecration to ascend the pyramid of Mount Palar, where gods and ancestors reside in palaces of gold that are seen occasionally glinting in the sun.

The festival was amazing to see as all those women were dancing around the drums wearing dresses and hats with lots of colors and hand embroidery. There were drunk men with their curtains and vests pushing and screaming. The small town was full of joy. In the evening we also had music at the campsite and we were able to try some local Chitral dances thanks to the encouragement given by two glasses of Arak.

Later, after a lively evening in front of the fire laughing and joking with the children, the older woman ordered something from her husband. The men rise from the point without making any observation. They prepare a wooden-legged bed and corded mattress and arrange it in the middle of the esplanade used to dry the forage. They make me indications that that would be my bed.

There, out in the open, on a soft summer night, in the depths of an abyss, I spent the night awake, resting without sleep. My eyes did not need rest, only my bones longed for it. I contemplated comforting the stars and the moon, which seemed to belong to the same valley, and let me take my imagination.

Who were the Kalasha? Would they really be descendants of the hosts of Alexander the Great? Or perhaps descendants of the precursors of great Persia? Or of those Vedic people that came to India more than three thousand years ago, leaving their epic stories recorded with the ancestral Sanskrit language? Perhaps they were a mixture of everything.

Nevertheless, their rooted and rigorous customs, like the bashali, that practice of separating the woman from the community when she goes through a period of menstruation or childbirth, as well as her strange language, they did not seem to turn them into derivatives of some historical empire or colony. They must have been something purer, perhaps something much earlier than anything else.

Perhaps they were, not only the last white tribe, as many people call them, but simply, the first, or one of the first Aryan tribes.

A Day to Meet Nessie: The Loch Ness Monster

We got up at 7:30. We looked out the window and it was still raining. The clothes, despite having been all night in the radiators were still wet. Today we did not include any breakfast so we made the backpacks and after leaving them in the car and checking out we went to find a place to have some breakfast.

We found a bakery in the square where we took coffee, buns and juices and had a good Scottish breakfast at the bus stop to have enough strength. Today's itinerary in the car consisted of going from Inverness to Crianlarich through Loch Ness and Glen Coe and visiting a couple of other points on the Isle of Skye and after visiting Eilean Donan we meet with Loch Ness.

To explore Loch Ness, we had doubts whether to go from the east or west bank. As we read, the road on the east side was more leafy in terms of vegetation, with the possibility of seeing Foyers, where there is a small waterfall. And on the west bank we go closer to the lake and there's Urquhart Castle, a ruined castle right on the shore of Loch Ness.

Finally, after many doubts, we opted for the west, as we were excited to see the castle. The road that borders the lake has many trees and sometimes they closed up, looking like we were driving in a tunnel. Before leaving Portree we approached a kind of viewpoint that overlooked the port to see that typical image of Portree with its colorful houses. We left Portree behind Broadford. After 20 minutes we arrived at the Sligachan Old Bridge where we made our first stop of the day.

From here, we take the A863 road inland, which we have to follow to reach the Fairy Pools. It takes less than 30 minutes from the bridge to the parking lot of the Fairy Pools. To get there we pass 2 crosses. In the left direction is a distillery and the second also on the left where our destination is marked. The last stretch of road is narrow and with many holes.

The day was still very cloudy although at that time it was not raining. So we thought there were almost no people, but the parking was almost full even cars parked in the roadside ditch. We go to the end where the strong slope of the mountain begins and went to the end of what is the "walk".

The place is truly worth it with the small waterfalls, the purity of the water, and the surroundings. This place on a sunny day has to be spectacular. In our case we had a very bad day, but hey, we could not do anything to change it, so we also enjoyed it within what fits.

Back in the car we headed towards the exit of the Isle of Skye. The Kyle of Lochalsh bridge is the main entrance and exit to the island. In spite of the amount of ferries that there can be from different points of the coast towards Skye, the great majority of people that visit the island do it entering from this bridge. Shortly after leaving Skye we find another point of interest. It is the castle of Eilean Donan.

This castle is in perfect condition (logically very restored). It deserves a stop along the way either to photograph the castle and its surroundings or to visit it from the inside as it is very well mounted. It has a large parking lot and in the visitor center there is a restaurant and a shop.

The interior of the castle is very well mounted. There are also guides in different places of the castle. In our case the tide was low and I think the exterior image loses some spectacularity but still remains a very nice place. For the hour that was at the end of the visit, we decided to eat at the Visitor Center restaurant, which was self-service style. We returned to our car and set course for our next destination to the town of Fort Augustus.

From the Eilean Donan castle there is exactly one hour to this town and the journey is really recommended because of the landscapes it has. In our case, how could it be otherwise. We toured much of the route with rain, but as I said on previous occasions, this road with a blue day has to be a real gift for the eyes.

We arrived at the small town of Invermoriston with a road to the left towards Inverness and to the right towards Fort Augustus. Despite planning to stay overnight in Inverness, we decided to go to Fort Augustus since it is the place where the world-famous Loch Ness begins.

Soon after leaving the crossing there we reach one of the most famous lakes in the world. Let's see if we can meet Nessie. I saw it the other day and it was a great match. Well, if I am honest, this lake does not impress, because in Scotland we have seen more lakes before reaching this and they are much more spectacular.

This lake has an elongated shape and extends across the Great Glen geological fault, which crosses this area of ​​the Scottish Highlands. Loch Ness is a lake of very dark water. It is very narrow being able to observe almost constantly the other shore crossing the lake from north to south.

We arrived at Fort Augustus and after refueling at a gas station we went to see the number one attraction of this town. It is the system for opening the doors of the Caledonia canal. The canal has a series of gates which are gradually opened to reach or leave by boat from Loch Ness. Here is also a sculpture of Nessie which is almost covered with people to become the little picture. Here we saw the locks of the canal.

As we felt that the town did not have much else either, we continued our way. A few kilometers later we stopped at the edge of the road because we saw a forest with a very beautiful lake. To say that in Scotland, in most of the roads there are frequent places to stop, so when we saw a landscape that we liked, we stopped to see it. We liked in particular the Loch Oich, and in the grove there were remains of bonfires, of people who had gone to eat there. We thought it was a good place to eat our provisions.

We passed through Fort William, but we did not stop because we had read that the town was not very beautiful and, in fact, what we went through with the car was not worth it. Soon after we did stop the car on the road, on the shores of another lake, and we were struck by the smell of the sea. And it is that Lake Linnhe begins at Fort William and ends at the sea.

Our next stop was Glen Coe. The first thing we found was a very nice little marina. We were thinking of entering an interpretation center about the Glencoe massacre, but it was not indicated from the road and we passed by. Wherever we went was in the Glen Coe visitor center, where they tell us about the geological importance of the mountains, and access to an impressive viewpoint where you can contemplate the mountains.

From there, there are some trails to walk around the area. We made the shortest one, which took about 20 minutes, because the weather was very bad, drizzling, and we were late. From there we left for Crianlarich, crossing the Glen Coe Glen. Halfway it started to rain and it did not stop until well into the night.

On the way to Inverness we find another place that marked the history of Scotland where the Battle of Culloden took place, one of the many between English and Jacobite, finally won by the English, and was from then when many of the Scottish customs were banned, like their feudal customs or other more representative ones, like the bagpipes or the kilts.

We set course North, towards the town of Invernnes, but before we make a stop at another point of interest in the Urquhart castle. This castle is on the west bank of Loch Ness almost halfway between Fort Augustus and Inverness. The castle is practically in ruins, although it deserves a stop as it is a worthwhile place.

In our case we arrived a little late, and it had already closed, only that not all the people had left, so we decided to do something to enter. At the end of the parking lot was the beginning of what looked like an entrance but with a closed door which could be opened. So despite the fact that one of my colleagues said that he was trying, we went ahead. We came to another kind of door or barrier which was closed and locked so we tried to enter another way.

We saw that there was no way to enter unless we jumped the door that I just mentioned. As we returned to it we saw that another group of people came to that door as they had seen us enter. As we approached the door my colleague came back with a serious voice and addressed the others saying it's open and jumped the door. I followed him and then my other colleague and was followed by the other group of kids. The truth is that it was a funny moment.

The pity was that as we arrived at the entrance, a guard came saying it's closed, it's closed, and we had to turn around, but at least we could be in the garden outside the castle. As we enter, there is a shop and a small exhibition, where there is a model of the castle and they explain the organization of the place in the Middle Ages. There is also a small video, quite visual, where they tell us the history of the Urquhart castle.

The first thing we find is a trebuchet, a kind of catapult that was used in the Middle Ages as a siege technique. There is a very nice guide that tells us specific stories of the castle. From here we left for Inverness to arrive before nightfall. We arrived at Invernees, the capital of the Highlands. Our hotel was which, we had taken only accommodation in a room and right there we had the option to take breakfast.

After preparing a little in the hotel we go for a tour of the center and after a beer and dinner, of course, with live music, we ended the day.

loch ness monster images sightings

Travel Guide to My Trip to New York

I will never forget the adventure through the United States. Now I laugh when I remember it, but at the time, I felt and wanted something that had never happened to me on a trip. I wanted to go back home, but I have to say that only for a while, and that the next day everything was an anecdote to laugh at.

Traveling to New York is one of those things that you have to do more than once in your life. Because New York changes at every station - in fact, it changes every minute. And, of course, every year, there is always something new: exhibitions, buildings, restaurants. I had been to the Big Apple before in summer and knew, from experience, that New York is extreme. The heat was stifling and the cold then, in our trip in winter was polar. But there is always something to see that only happens at that moment.

I have visited large cosmopolitan cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, London. I must admit (as many travelers) that New York has a special charm and that makes it unique in the world. In addition, despite having a large population, its large sidewalks and countless open spaces, does not make it as claustrophobic as some cities that I mentioned above.

We visited the city that never sleeps at Christmas. We count our essentials to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in New York. Spending Christmas and New Year's Eve in New York is a bit like living an American Christmas movie. There are Christmas decorations, Father Christmas, Christmas carols, the drop of the ball in Times Square. Is New York the most Christmas savvy city in the world? It seemed to us. With the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving, Christmas is officially opened in the Big Apple. Even museums are decorated with huge Christmas trees.

Today we give the itinerary of those days that we learned a little in an incredible city. Put on your most comfortable shoes because, even if you do not stop going on the subway, you're going to walk a lot in Manhattan and the rest of New York boroughs following in our footsteps. Are you sure you want to visit New York in the fall? Everyone talks about autumn in New York, but see what you think after reading this article. One last tip is to leave space in your luggage, because there will also be time to visit the outlets in New York.

New York city night travel wallpaper nyc skyline buildings images pictures

24 Hours in New York

We arrived at the Jfk Airport in New York at 12.10 at night. There we took the train that left us at the Sutphin Boulevard subway station. Since we got off the plane, until the train drop us at the subway station we had spent an hour. So we reached the subway at approximately 1.30 in the morning. The first impression of the New York subway on early morning any day is hard. At least for me it was. We had to take a subway that was not going to arrive in half an hour, and I was there with my brightly colored backpack. I do not say more.

After more than 15 stops, we reached Wall Street. There we had to walk a bit until we reached Staten Island Ferry, the Ferry station that would take us to our house. Since the Ferries at night only spend every hour at half past one, we arrived at 2.32! So we lost the 2.30 one and had to wait an hour more! We spent our time eating our first pizza slice of the weekend. We do not have photos since we did not even want to take the camera.

There is not everything. Our trip coincided with one of the most touring times in New York of the year of the Christmas holidays. Although we arrived after the 25th, New Year's Eve in Times Square is still a great tourist attraction that fills the hotels in the Big Apple. This time we decided to rent a flat in Staten Island. We chose this site for the price, since accommodation in Manhattan is expensive.

We enjoyed seeing that every day and every night the New York Skyline and the Statue of Liberty from up close, free of charge. After the experience, I advise that if you go for a few days you should stay somewhere in the center, otherwise you lose a lot of time.

When we finally got to Staten Island we had two missions to solve. The first is to get home, and the second is to get the keys to the house, because by mistake we told the owner that we would arrive at 9 but it was 4 in the morning!

The first goal achieved in about 10 minutes. We got a taxi driver who took us first to a cashier to get money to pay and finally took us to our house. Without knowing it at the time, this taxi driver was going to become the protagonist of one of our major liaisons in New York. We'll tell you later.

Well it was 4 in the morning and there we were in a neighborhood of Staten Island on the door of what would be our house for three days but without keys to enter? Between one thing and another we got home at 4.30 in the morning. With a lot of face calling the poor woman at that time, the truth is that she did not take it too badly. She gave us a code to enter the house and told us where they had hidden the keys. She was a charm of a woman to that we did not meet her in the next 3 days.

Finally we were safe and sound in our house. I take a shower and got to bed. Although we proposed to get up early, we did not. We had been traveling for many days, and the beating of the previous day took its toll. We got up around 11, but between preparing the route and the rest we did not get back to Manhattan until 1 in the afternoon. We saw everything different.

It was our first day of the day for the great city that is Manhattan. The truth is that we were somewhat lost, to start with. To get energy we went back to buy some pieces of pizza and we began to do what we like, by getting into unknown places. The first stop, by proximity was Wall Street, the entire financial area, the famous bull and ground zero.

Later we went to visit the central station that this year celebrates 100 years. There we met a very nice lady who told us to visit Bryant Park, a park that is not as well known by tourists. We went there and liked it a lot because it was full of chairs where people sat and read a book that they could take in any of the shelves that were in the park. The park is next to the national library, and near Times Square.

In the afternoon we decided to take a tourist bus, which stopped at the most typical places in Manhattan. We began to realize how long were the distances in this city, and that we would not have time to see everything. The ticket is valid for three days. On this bus we did two tours during the day and at night. The truth is that they show us everything from National Library, Soho, Broadway, Empire State, Little Korea, Little Italy, Zero zone, Bull, Financial zone, Times Square and China Town.

After the tour, we went down again near Times Square. We started walking looking for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). On Fridays you can enter this museum for free. So we went there. After walking a little lost we found it. The MoMA is at number 11 east of 53rd street. On Friday it closes at 8pm, and on the other days it closes at 5pm. Later we decided to take the tourist bus to make the tour of the night.

In the evening, we were also in Brooklyn and saw from the Manhattan Bridge the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Once the two tours were done, we spent the night walking and enjoying Times Square. We dined at a restaurant on 7th avenue. The dinner came out for 35 dollars with two beers and a hamburger. You should know that in the United States it is customary to go behind asking for your tip, and it's fine when they take good care of you. The dinner was pretty good but we thought it was quite expensive, although we think we were paying for the place.

After resting a bit in the hostel we left for Times Square to see the New Year's Eve party. Although we could not get closer until the 53rd and the good thing is that there are giant screens to see it. Times Square is on the 42nd. The Times Square Ball Drop is one of the best-known New Year's Eve images. Thousands of people gather to admire the drop of the ball, which explodes with its thousands of confetti. We took a subway to Staten Island Ferry on Times Square. Like the previous night, we lost the Ferry at 2.30 am. So I had to wait another hour.

But since not there was not everything, once in Staten Island, we realized that we had forgotten the paper with the address in the house. So we did not know how to return. In the morning we caught a bus to take us to the station, and more or less we remembered the way. But it was more like that, more or less, after 15 minutes of walking, we recognized that we were lost.

After a while, we remember that the taxi driver from yesterday had given his phone number, in case we needed to call a taxi in those days. So we called him, and as we could we explained that we were lost and that if he remembered the name of our house, and then I remembered. We told him the street where we were. He came to pick us up and took us home.

New York Ball Drop Times Square

48 Hours in New York

It was our second morning in New York and we were not as lost as the first day. We got off the boat and went running to take the tourist bus, so as not to pay for the subway. We went to buy the ticket to go to the Top of the Rock at the roof of the Rockefeller Center. We bought it for 6 in the afternoon since the sunset was scheduled for 6.50. So we would see New York day and night from one of the tallest buildings in the Big Apple.

After having our tickets we went walking down the luxurious fifth avenue to finally get to relax and let time pass in Central Park, the lung of the city. Despite being festive, there are many things to do in New York on New Year's Day. We begin with a guided tour of Madison Square Garden.

At the scheduled time we went to the Top of the Rock, to enjoy the show. To see the sunset from one of the tallest buildings in New York is impressive. To enjoy how the lights of the skyscrapers go on, facing the incredible Empire State Building, we had read online, you have to buy tickets in advance.

We arrive and wait a queue of 10 minutes at the most and we get our tickets. So even though there is no Internet, we advise you to stop by and try to buy it because it's worth it. When we went down we photographed the ice rink with the Christmas lights and the Christmas tree.

At night we went to dinner for another hamburger and beer. I ate the best burgers that I have eaten in my life. They were delicious and super cheap compared to the previous night at 8 dollars per hamburger. The end of the day was spent again in Times Square, with the bad fortune that it started to rain. So at about one o'clock we went back home, because there was not much to do there, but before that we had time to get some photos.

But of course, the day could not end quietly. When we arrived in Staten Island this time with our address in hand, we asked the driver of a bus if he stopped on our street. He said yes, so we ride on the bus heading home. After 20 minutes driving and seeing that we were alone on the bus, I get up and ask the driver. It could not be, we were lost again for the third night in a row. The truth is that the driver behaved well and let us ride for free back and let us know when we were at our stop.

72 Hours in New York

We began the day by visiting Manhattan for its most recognized icon to the Statue of Liberty. We go from the South Ferry. Afterwards, we entered the immigration museum on Ellis Island, the building through which over 62 years saw more than 12 million immigrants trying to enter the United States.

Our street was very long and the bus stopped in it, but in number one, and it was raining above. Now we laugh at the situation but at the time we did not do anything funny. We got up early to organize the bags and take advantage of the last morning in the city. It was Sunday, and Wall Street was dead. We could take a picture with the Bull with no one in between.

We also went to the Brooklyn Bridge since we had only seen it from afar. We walked a bit on Wall Street. After a few hours we took the subway, and then the train to JFK airport. All those stops that the first day seemed like a world, were totally normal.

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon we took the penultimate plane back to Istanbul. We were waiting for 10 hours of travel, but there we would not arrive until 7 o'clock in the morning, Turkish time.

A Trip to the German Traditions in Munich during Oktoberfest

When I found out that we were going to be in Munich during the Oktoberfest I got stressed. That city was the last stop of the trip to Hungary and Germany. I took the flight to Munich but never fanned that going at the end of September was equivalent to going during the Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival in the world.

A few days before traveling to Munich we began to look for accommodation, as we had done during the three weeks of travel without problems. I saw that everything was full and that what was available was very expensive. It was very expensive to a point that outraged me. It can not be that three nights of accommodation in a hotel cost you up to one thousand euros.

It cannot be that a bed in a shared dormitory of a hostel costs you one hundred euros a night. It was all crazy and seemed exorbitant. And there I realized that it was because the festival with October's name began in September. During the Oktoberfest, the city of one and a half million people receives seven million visitors and that triples its prices during sixteen days a year. My desire to see it was decreasing directly in proportion to the increase in the prices.

Oktoberfest wallpaper hot german girl costume outfit carrying beer

After spending several days among little houses of this style, I did not want to change the countryside around the city.

The trip through Hungary and Germany had been quiet and, in all, cheap. We had stayed in Panzio, the Hungarian pensions, and we had discovered the closest thing to Couchsurfing. I wanted a little more privacy, and renting a room was a cheaper option than a hotel and at the same time allowed us to get in touch with the locals.

A day before traveling to Munich we found, through one of these rental websites, a student who rented his room at a good price. It was not in the center and it was small, but at least we would have somewhere to sleep. There was a boom of offers. Everyone wanted to take advantage of the arrival of people for the Oktoberfest and get a few extra euros.

I thought that I only expected this (which is not bad if one goes wanting to drink good beer).

Munich was a destination that I did not really want to go to but that we would have to go through. It was like an unwanted trip. I was not interested in the city or the festival, all the blame for my prejudices, disinformation, and fatigue. as Munich is one of the cities with the best quality of life in the world.

I imagined it to be boring and full of buildings with logos of businesses. As the Oktoberfest is one of the most popular festivals in the world, I imagined it to be expensive, crowded and chaotic. The only thing I wanted was to enjoy those last days without stress.

In the end, Munich could not be more beautiful.

When we arrived in Munich, I almost apologized for not having wanted to meet her. As our lodging was in the other end, we had to cross it. During the passage I did not stop to repeat, with the forehead pressed to the window: I cannot believe how beautiful this city is. The low-colored houses, side by side, in orderly rows, made me think of London. The green spaces, the lagoons, the trees, the clean sidewalks made me think of Vancouver.

Munich is the third largest city in Germany. It is the capital of Bavaria and is a cultural, artistic and scientific center. And to know that one of the cities with the best quality of life has a lot of colors with forests in the middle and is not full of buildings comforted me. It was not like I imagined it.

It was a thousand time more beautiful.

When we arrived it was noon. There were many people riding bicycles and families dressed in the traditional clothes of Bavaria. Men were in the Lederhosen and women in the Dirndl. Everyone was walking in the same direction. There were large and small, groups of friends and couples. I later learned, they were going to Theresienwiese, the place where the opening of the Oktoberfest was being celebrated. There I began to doubt: What if I go? I'm here on this date, I love beer and who knows when I'll be back. But we had less than two days in the city and a lot to see.

That afternoon we toured the center and took pictures from the viewpoints. We walked through Marienplatz, the center of the city since 1158, and through the rest of the historic center. I was struck by the architecture, the details, the colors, the carved figures, the curves, the mixture of styles, the endings. The city had been bombed and destroyed in part during the war, and then rebuilt respecting its style.

Through the streets, and viewpoints of Munich.

It started to rain. It is something normal in that city so close to the Alps. The good thing was that I was carrying an umbrella, so we opened it and continued walking until it was dark. The next day I met an Argentine friend who I had met in Budapest and who was living for two months in Munich. She had gone to the Oktoberfest the day before. In the end, it was not so hard to convince her.

And when we arrived I was also about to apologize to the Oktoberfest for not having wanted to meet it. It was not like I imagined it either. It was a thousand times more fun. The first surprise is that the Oktoberfest is a retro game fair where you also drink beer. There are roller coasters, bumper cars, circus attractions, giant teddy bears, cotton candy, and hot corn.

The second surprise is that people are dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes. So it's like being in a German movie. The third surprise was since it was Monday, there were not so many people and we could walk well. The fourth surprise is that the beer served at the Oktoberfest has to comply with the Bavarian purity law and it has to be made inside Munich. That's why there are only six factories that sell their product in this festival.

The fifth surprise is that the prices are not so high (a glass of one liter of beer costs 10 euro, half a chicken 10 euro, a corn with lard 3 euro, tickets to games between 2 and 8 euro. In European terms, it is not so terrible). The sixth surprise is that the beer courts are the places with the best vibes I saw.

A beer patio

The Oktoberfest was born in 1810 in honor of the marriage between Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the wedding at the Theresienwiese, an open space in front of the gates of the city, the same where the festival is celebrated today. There were horse races and people attended dressed in their typical clothes.

The following year, an agricultural show was added to the event, in 1850 the first parade was made, in 1882 the first sausage sales stalls appeared and in 1892 beer began to be served. At the end of the 19th-century beer patios and live music appeared, and now, every year, more than six million liters of beer are served. We got on the roller coasters. I hope this cart does not go to hell, we said while yelling with thrill. Even so, it was spectacular.

Oktoberfest wallpaper

We got on this, which has no curlers like roller coasters, but at each curve it was scary.

We decided to end the day in one of the tents that used to be a beer garden. We looked for two holes and sat at a very long table, along with hundreds of people who were drinking beer. The liter glass we ordered was so heavy that it was difficult to lift it with one hand. I admire the Germans who lift eight of those glasses as if nothing and carry them from table to table.

Around us, people talked, shouted, sang, toasted. It was like being in a giant community bar where we were all friends. Every time the band played, some would go up to the table, others would dance, others would sing in unison and we would all toast with those we had nearby. I wish all the bars were like that.

On the way back we saw some drunks who staggered as they returned to their homes, but nothing out of the ordinary. I walked alone for a while before returning to the apartment. I realized that I had finished the European summer.

I had stayed much of Munich to see, but I was happy that the unwanted trip had become the perfect farewell. Farewell to the summer and farewell to my trips, for a while. Sometimes you do not choose places, but places choose you. I did not want to go to the Oktoberfest, but I had to go the same. Munich will know why.

Trip to Tibet - the Mystical Land of Legends and the Dragons

Our stay in Tibet consisted of a five-day stopover that was part of a larger trip that we made through China for almost two months. Before flying to China we pre-planned an itinerary from home with the route we wanted to take. We collect information from travel guides, specialized magazines and, of course, the internet. We organized everything for our own account.

We book hotels in almost all cities and internal flights whose dates would mark the arrival and departure days. It includes the round trip to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. It was a short visit but with long bureaucratic procedures. First of all, we ask for visas from the Chinese embassy, and then an entry permit that is mandatory to fly to Tibet.

To get permission, we had to pay for a tour, because there is no permit if you do not hire them, and is without a tour with a defined itinerary. Getting it was not too difficult. We just had to give a series of dates and pay for a tour package to a travel agency. We decided on one that among other things did not include meals or dinners. So we could walk freely around Lhasa and eat or dine where we wanted. We got a package for five days that included transportation, guide, driver, jeep and lodging with breakfast.

We already had the Tibet travel permit. The booking of the flights according to our travel forecasts was also managed by the agency. The one-way flight (3 hours) was from Xian, Chengdu, while the departure flight was to Lijiang with discount included. We booked a basic package. Our main interest was to know the people and the Tibetan culture, their religion, see the former residence of the Dalai Lama and ultimately observe the life of the Tibetans.

We discarded the idea of trekking through the Himalayas, or meeting more remote populations or going to the base camp of Everest as other travelers do for practical reasons of time. Despite the impressive nature of Tibet is inseparable from its culture and religion, we hired a day trip to see lakes, mountains, and yaks.

Trip to Tibet pictures


After about 45 min in a minivan, we arrived at the Xian airport at 08.00 in the morning. After showing the passport in the luggage check-in queue and saying that our destination was Lhasa, two police officers separated us into a different queue. They demanded our passports and the entry permit. They review everything three times and one more as we fill a document with questions such as profession, reasons for travel, and the hotel where we stayed. They check the luggage and make sure that we are not a team of incognito journalists who try to record a clandestine report about Tibet.

They ask if we have professional recording cameras. Then a policeman asks me to accompany him to an office attached to sign a document of responsibility of the group and in which you claimed to have no political or journalistic intentions on your trip to Tibet. Finally, after almost half an hour, we are given back the entry permit and we enter the waiting room of the flight. We are all excited and anxious, in a few hours, we will be in Lhasa.

The flight leaves on time and it passes quietly. After the tension of the airport, everyone sleeps except me. From my window seat, there are spectacular views of the Himalayas. I can perfectly appreciate the languages of the glaciers and the lakes that dot the slopes of mountains empty of vegetation. On this air route we did not pass close to Everest, but a few months later on a flight between New Delhi and Kathmandu in Nepal, I was lucky to see it and even take a picture.


At the departure gate of the Gonggar airport, our Tibet guide was waiting for us with a sign in hand. After the initial greetings, he accompanied us to the minivan to introduce us to the driver. Both were local Tibetans, as almost always the driver knows nothing of English and is limited to just driving. They presented the typical image, thin, short, with black hair and skin darkened by the intense sun. Almost all seem quite older than they really are because of the deep wrinkles and faces cracked by the sun. The guide was dressed in simplicity, with dark cloth pants, dusty black shoes, white shirt and red cotton vest.

They loaded the suitcases into the van and then welcomed us with a Tibetan-style ceremony putting each of us in the Khata. The guide explained during the trip to the hotel that the Khata is a traditional scarf typical of the Tibetan culture. It symbolizes purity and compassion, although in our case, in particular, it represented the beginning of our relationship or friendship with him.

They are made of silk and are white to show the pure heart of the one who offers it. While they put it on your neck they say the expression Tashi Delek (good luck). We will not stop seeing them in many places during the next days in Tibet. It is the equivalent of Aloha and the Hawaiian flower necklace.

The airport is about 70 km from Lhasa. We had almost an hour's drive to get to the hotel. On the way, the guide began to give us a series of tips for our stay in Tibet that we had to fulfill. Although his English was quite correct, the accent he had made it very difficult to have a fluent conversation with him. Some things had to be repeated several times and we all tried to translate them. Other times we would smile directly without having any idea of ​​what he had told us.

He also advised us about altitude sickness. Lhasa is 3,500m high. When arriving by plane there is no progressive acclimatization as when we arrive by train. They advise us on the first day to not take a shower until the next day. The fatigue is usually greater, and it is good to hydrate, and better if it is with water. I only noticed a certain feeling of shortness of breath when I lay down on the bed the first night. After that, the remaining days were absolutely normal.

After a while of conversation about the weather and other more trivial issues, he detailed the plan for that day and the next. We had the afternoon free to get to know Lhasa and to get acclimated to the altitude. The next day after breakfast at the hotel he would pick us up for the excursion hired to Lake Yamdrok.

During the trip in the van, we were surprised by a very arid landscape, with little vegetation. There is just some poplar next to the Yearlong Tsangpo river that borders a large part of the road. There are deserted mountains without trees, some with snow on the peaks. The sky was of an intense blue color, without any cloud. We crossed very few towns.

There were only solitary little houses made of gray brick. Many are unpainted, and others painted in white, without finishing, on a single floor, without any concession to the aesthetic or to the ornament beyond the omnipresent Lung ta or Tibetan prayer flags. The roads, in general, are in good condition, especially compared to nearby countries such as Nepal. However, there is a lot of respect for speed limits for fear of fines.

We arrive at the hotel located in the Tibetan part of Lhasa, in the old city. It is a five-minute walk from Barkhor Street and Jokhang Temple, the nerve center of Lhasa, and the main center of Tibetan Buddhism. Our hotel has three floors and is decorated in Tibetan style. According to the agency, it is three star, but although austere it is clean and beautiful.

The staff is composed of two or three local Tibetans with English proficiency and a lot of kindness and sympathy. We take the bags to the rooms several times and in a leisurely way. There is a private bathroom and hot water in each room and the decoration in red and orange colors, with Buddhas, flowers and all the Buddhist iconography is fantastic.

We check-in and were given some welcome tea bowls. The choice of the hotel in Lhasa is fundamental. The western part of the capital resembles all the Chinese cities we had seen before, with an architecture of identical blocks of concrete and shops and without any grace at all. However, in the center, we can breathe the air of an old city. It is closed to traffic, and we have the main temples at a walking distance. It is without a doubt the best possible option. There is a wide range of this type of Tibetan hotels, all very similar in price and aesthetics in this area of ​​the city.

We said goodbye to the guide until the next day at 09.00 in the morning and left the hotel towards Barkhor street. The center of the city remains intact. It is composed of narrow streets with Tibetan architecture that form a large market where we can buy fruit, meat, and almost everything. They are street stalls, sometimes no more than a cart. We can observe the people and the traditional Tibetan culture. The smell of Yak butter is very intense. It pervades everything and it takes a while to get used to it. The wires of light and telephone swirl around the poles and lampposts.

We bought some bananas from a Tibetan woman, who still uses the old manual scales to weigh them. The pieces of beef and yak are kept on top of a wood. Most of the women we meet have a hat to protect themselves from the sun and a mask in their mouths, which I could not find out why they were wearing. They have an austere dress, with dark garments, but always with some elements of an intense color. It is almost always red. The wrinkled skin of the older ones contrasts with the smooth and pink skin of the smallest ones. The looks are very deep and the sincere gestures, or at least that was our first perception.

After five minutes we access Barkhor street through an alley. The image leaves us all shocked. Suddenly we are in the middle of the Tibetan religious epicenter. Hundreds of devout pilgrims walk clockwise around the outer periphery of the Jokhang temple as they turn the prayer wheel. Many come walking from remote regions of Tibet. Many make their way here prostrating on the ground in prayer every three steps. Some of them walk clockwise from dawn to darkness.

They surround the Jokhang temple. They go praying while they walk. After about ten minutes in shock, we decided to go around the temple (in the same direction) and started to take some pictures. There are pilgrims of all ages. There are old people with white and sharp beards, with a cane like stick and orange tunic, that seem to have come out of some tv series. There are women with children in arms, and some walk barefoot.

We stop just like them in front of the Jokhang temple to see how they lie on the ground to make their prayers. The atmosphere has a strange force of spiritual magnetism. The reverential attitude of the pilgrims in front of the temple as it begins to get dark creates an intense moment.

The pilgrims do not stop turning their prayer wheels. We also see that there are many Buddhist monks making the turns around the temple. We take a walk around the esplanade where the Barkhor street is transformed in front of the temple. There are two or three large furnaces or burners from which smoke comes out continually by burning incense as a form of prayer. We see many pilgrims praying beside the flags.

There is a large crowd of people. There are large wooden masts of more than 15 meters crowned with fabrics with the colors of Tibet stand out in the sky of the square. The houses are all the same, of one or two heights. They are painted in white with a red finish on the ceiling and the fabrics of ornament in the windows are with the usual colors. All have a branch on the roof with colored flags with sacred Buddhist texts.

After a while, we look for a place to dine. In a corner of the Barkhor Square, we see a two-story restaurant and a terrace with great views over the square and the Jokhang temple in the background. It is a Nepalese restaurant that we enter through a small side door. We go up the stairs, as the restaurant is on the second floor. The interior is decorated with mandala murals. We found no place on the terrace, and so we sat at a table inside.

We take a look at the menu in English. We see it is a popular restaurant among tourists, as there are enough people, some of them local. After a quick glance, we realize that it is the typical Asian restaurant with a variety of dishes. There are Indian, Nepalese, Chinese, Tibetan, international dishes, generous portions and popular prices for tourists. There are girls going up and down the stairs with trays full of plates.

We decided to share all the dishes. We ordered yak curd curry with white rice, chicken masala, naan, vegetable curry, and dumplings. We see a bottle of white wine in the display and we decided to ask for it. First, we say it to a girl who looks at us surprised. She talks to someone behind the bar and shows us the bottle. We ask then a bucket with ice, and a girl comes and tells us that she cannot sell it to us because it is not for sale.

At the end, we ordered some beers for everyone. The food is reasonably good. After taking tea we walk towards the hotel. We look up to the stars in a clear sky with little pollution. The streets are empty and silent. It is not too late, maybe nine o'clock at night. Exhausted after the whole day we go to bed.


We get up and 24 hours later we can finally go back to shower. We go down to breakfast and the guide is already waiting for us. The breakfast is English, based on eggs, potatoes, toast, and coffee or tea. We left Lhasa in a minivan. At the exit of the city, after passing in front of the Potala Palace, on Jiangsu Road we almost have to stop to avoid cows that walk at ease on the road.

Just crossing the bridge on the river, we notice some stairs painted on the rock walls of the mountains. It seems that it is a symbol of the spiritual ascent to which Tibetan Buddhists should surrender. Later we stop next to some lung ta or Prayer Flags, which are those rectangular pieces of colored cloth, which are often found in mountainous passages and peaks of the Himalayas.

They were on a small mound next to the road with several Tibetans selling souvenirs and fruit. We take some pictures and continue on to the lake. Almost two hours after leaving the hotel we arrived at Lake Yamdrok. To get here we climb a road in good condition, although somewhat narrow, that goes meandering along the slopes of the mountains.

The lake is quite wide. It is almost 5,000 m high. The water is turquoise blue and reflects the clouds as if it were a mirror. It is one of the three sacred lakes of Tibet. On the other side of the lake, we can see a small village with three or four houses on the side of the mountain. We go down and immediately two or three girls come up trying to sell us water or a soft drink.

There are a couple of families and two or three booths. There are enough yaks lying on the shore, some Tibetan mastiff and many Prayer Flags. They offer us a ride on a barge and take pictures with them. We took the typical pictures on the back of a yak. There was a misunderstanding with the price. The discussion was bigger, not because of the price but because of the attitude of the owner of the animals. After a bitter argument, he did not take the money. However, it is a one-off incident, as the vast majority of people are infinitely friendly and kind.

After an hour and a half trekking through the lake area, we returned to Lhasa. We arrived half late and we said goodbye to the driver until the next day. We went for a walk around the city. To the east of the alleys of the old town, we find the Muslim quarter of Lhasa. In a couple of streets, the smell of yak butter has disappeared. The faces are different, without Tibetan features. Men and women dress according to Muslim custom.

They have their own markets and businesses. They do not seem to live off tourism, nor have any relationship with the rest of the city. We see women working with their sewing machines in the street, butchers (or as close as possible) and even parents waiting for children to leave the school, as in any city in the world.

We go to the new part of the city. Beijing Dong Lu street delimits the old area by the north of Lhasa. This street is open to traffic and there is a lot of noise from the horns of the endless motorcycles that do not stop coming. The devotional and ceremonial atmosphere of the surroundings of Barkhor disappears quickly. Here we saw tourists, local people, Chinese from other provinces, some Buddhist monk on a tricycle, mothers with children in their arms going to or coming from the markets.

Beijing Dong Lu is full of shops and western style bars. We enter the bar cum restaurant on the first floor. It has a magnificent terrace in the pub on the top floor. We had some huge cafes on the terrace overlooking the street enjoying the rest. Then we went into another place in an adjacent alley with a great interior patio. We stayed until dusk taking some gin. We get back to the hotel walking quietly. In an alley, we see how they stretch wool threads of more than 20 meters. Exhausted we arrived at the hotel wanting to sleep.

Tibetan dragons pictures


We left the hotel on foot. In five minutes we arrived at the Barkhor street. There is a whole street market on the sidewalks and behind these stands, there are more shops. Its circular layout, surrounding the Jokhang temple makes it the meeting point par excellence of the city. Religion, culture, economy, and tradition are on this street that is at the same time market and holy place of prayer.

There is a curious mixture. Masks, belts, shoes, jewelry, clothes, knives, coins, relics of Buddhist iconography and crafts, in general, are sold. At night it turns into a night market when lights are turned on, food is offered and you can see the last pilgrims of the day.

We queue while the guide gets us the tickets. Tibetans of all ages come from all over the country, who gather around the entrance to pray. They tilt their body, again and again, whispering continuously the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum as they turn their Prayer Wheel. Once again we witnessed the extraordinary religious fervor that dominates everything in Tibet.

The Jokhang temple has 4 floors with a splendid facade from which hang large fabrics with Tibetan symbols. Above the fabrics on the roof painted red we can see the figure of two large golden deer representing the man and the woman and in the center a large wheel of Dharma. Both are characteristic elements of Buddhist temples, presiding over the entrances regardless of the country where they are located.

Upon entering Norbu tells us that there is a ceremony of monks that take place on certain occasions, and we are very fortunate to be able to witness it. It tells us that we must remain silent and that photos are not allowed during the ceremony. We have quickly accessed the temple by the queue of tourists. The row of pilgrims is a swarm compared to ours.

Some monks regulate the access of the pilgrims, who literally cling together next to the internal walls of the temple to deposit the offerings and pray to the innumerable images of glass-walled Buddha that there is in the interior. In all Tibetan temples and monasteries, pilgrims leave offerings such as yak butter in large bowls with lighted wicks. They also deposit notes at the feet of each of the statues of different Buddhas and sometimes white cloths or even beer.

In the center of the room, there are monks of the Gelug sect sitting in a row on the floor that sound Tibetan trumpets, a kind of copper horn of several meters in length. It consists of several pieces that fit together. While they continually murmur the mantra, the pilgrims deposit money in front of each of the monks. The sound they produce sounds grave, deep, almost can be felt on the skin.

The interior decoration is rich in gold and ornamental elements. The color red is the basis for an infinity of images and floral details. The walls of the temple are a succession of chapels, rooms and various tabernacles.

We went to an open inner courtyard and climbed to the roof. The view from the roof is impressive. We can see the whole Barkhor Square with the pilgrims in constant movement, with the Potala Palace in the background and beyond the mountains that surround Lhasa. The golden finials stand out along the entire roof of the temple. On the roof, there are prayer flags and large golden pinnacles with mantras. It also draws attention to all the golden figures in the form of Buddhas and dragons that surround the roofs.

The visit to the Temple has been a great experience. We have spent the morning flying and decided to go to lunch. We said goodbye to the guide on the way out and stayed for the next day to visit the Potala Palace. We eat at a restaurant near the back of the temple. It has a structure similar to almost all the restaurants in Lhasa. It has a narrow entrance, access stairs and several floors topped by a terrace.

We sit at a table from which we can see how the pilgrims turn around Jokhang. The clients are all tourists. The waitress is helpful and quite young and beautiful. We ordered several dishes to share with all (dumplings, chicken curry, spicy vegetables and beer). We ate and spend a long afternoon with the coffee. Then we went to the hotel to rest, and maybe a nap. Later we went back for a walk around the city to see the sunset. We bought some fruit at a street stall to have dinner in the room and returned to the hotel.


We get up at 07:00 in the morning, Narbu picks us up in the minivan after breakfast and we approach the Potala Palace. After leaving us at the door, he goes with the driver to pick up some Russian tourists to another hotel. It is quite early and although the day is sunny, it does some cool. We have to get to the temple before it opens the doors. We have to book the entry tickets and be on the access list, which the guide did. It is important to be early because it only opens for two hours a day in the morning.

Located on the Red Mountain, in the middle of Beijing East Road, it is impressive to look up at this palace at the entrance. It looks like an immense walled castle of two colors. A compact fortress symbol of the Tibetan nation. It is undoubtedly the dominant element of Lhasa. It presides over the city from Mount Potalaka and is the first thing that impresses us, which monopolizes the first views in the city.

The guide tells us on the way to the inner access gate that it was the official residence of the Dalai Lama until the Chinese occupation, which forced him to flee to India. We feel that his attitude is one of complete reverence and respect right from the very entrance. The main feature of the temple is its incredible dimensions. It is almost 120 meters high with 13 floors, and of course the two colors that make it up. There is the Red Palace and the White Palace. The interior is quite dark. There are multiple rooms and many of them closed or has forbidden access. We can only take pictures in the interior courtyards in the open, but none inside.

The decoration is very ornate and the air is dense with strong smells of incense, butter, and beer that is used for offerings to some Buddhas. The guide tries to explain to us in detail the whole functioning of the temple. He names us the innumerable gods or Buddhas and their functions. As we go through the sacred places, he explains the meaning of everything we see but his accent prevents us from understanding it.

He repeats everything several times. In the end, we chose to renounce his explanations and ask him to stop so as to enjoy everything we were seeing. There are huge statues of Buddhas several meters high, all of gold, spread over many rooms. The Potala Palace, like the rest of the main places of Tibetan pilgrimage, is well stocked with wealth. Its presence behind the glass urns is evident.

In Potala, we can also see a lot of historical relics and sacred scriptures for Buddhists. Inside the colors are red, white and golden yellow, big Tibetan drums hang from the ceilings. The Dalai Lama's private chambers remain intact because of the symbolic hope of a possible return, although it does not seem very likely. The visit takes between one and two hours to complete due to the enormous dimensions.

The exit of the temple is from the back. We go down the sections of the wide exterior stairs. We stop to see the panoramic view of the new city. In the lower part of the temple, the devotees who have come from Potala perform their prayers on the Wheels of Life that surround the palace. Often these wheels adorn the Buddhist temples. They contain the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.

We spent a lot of time observing the people, who with traditional clothes and between continuous murmurs turn the wheels. Many pilgrims stop in front of paintings of different Buddhist deities on the wall of the temple. There they perform various offerings in a devotional attitude. We go out and take a walk around. In front of the palace, there is a large square with a monument that honors the freedom and struggle of the Tibetan people.

We decided to walk back to the old area where we have the hotel. We eat something again in the restaurant and spent the last afternoon in Lhasa enjoying people walking the streets without a specific destination.


We got up very early as the flight to Lijiang left early in the morning. We had breakfast. We lowered our bags and after checking out we said goodbye to the friendly people of the hotel. Before leaving we had to return the entry permit. We took some photos with the guide at the entrance of the hotel to immortalize the moment. We loaded the junk and finally, we got into the minivan.

Soon we realize that we have miscalculated the time. We tell the driver, and he increases the speed and takes the "calculated risks". We have a feeling of uneasiness due to the delay and driving. Despite the early morning, we cannot sleep on the road to the airport.

In the end, we arrived five minutes before the closing of the flight. We run towards the check-in counters, while the driver unloads and enters the suitcases. The doors of the aircraft boarding gate are already open, and we have arrived on time. We recovered our breath and joined the queue to leave Tibet behind.

Halloween Night in Las Vegas in USA

During my trip to San Francisco during Halloween, I was able to afford the luxury of staying in Las Vegas, a city ​​of disgusting luxury and exuberance. I would check with my own eyes that it is possible to erect a city of rhinestones and lights in the middle of the desert!

Today we sleep more than usual. We had breakfast at the restaurant buffet next to the glass while we watched the flamingos in the pond. We went on our way to the South Outlet to pass the morning doing shopping.

The truth is that I had many expectations with the outlets and I left there quite disappointed. I did not see great offers, or discounts. The prices were excessive, and the clothes that were not much of my style either. So I left with practically empty hands. I could not believe that I would return empty handed from shopping.

I do not know if the time of year we went had something to do. Maybe in summer there are better prices than in September or October. At last I amortized the visit and returned to the hotel with a pair of pants, sweaters and shirts. At least the hours we spent there were not lost.

When we returned from the outlets we went to the Caesar Palace right in front of the Flamingo to see inside and take the opportunity to eat at the buffet. That's when we found out that we had to pay the extra per person. Logically we left without entering. We did not want to pay more when we had already spent on the bonuses.

But since we were there we took the opportunity to see the hotel inside, one of the most luxurious we visited. After lunch we returned to the room to rest for a while and wait for it to start to get dark. Shortly after 5 o'clock we set off again in the direction of the Stratosphere.

Climbing the tower of the Stratosphere, the tallest building in Las Vegas, should be one of the must-sees if you're in the city. There are several entrances. As we are not very brave, we buy the normal ticket. We carried the tripod but they forced us to leave it at the access control.

After enjoying the views of the city we set out for Freemont Street, but before we had something to do. We visit one of the most typical things in Las Vegas, its famous chapels. And it is in this section between the Stratosphere and Freemont Street where most of them are located and some of the most famous. We saw, among others, Chapel of the Flowers, Little White Chapel and Graceland Wedding Chapel.

And soon after we got to Freemont Street, apparently, along with half of the tourists who at that time must be staying in Las Vegas. It was Halloween night and a parade of floats ran through the neighborhood among thousands of people who could barely walk. The truth is that it was practically impossible to be there. We spent a while watching the parade as we could. Seeing the situation, we decided to return soon to the Strip that we still had a lot to see.

We left the car in the parking lot of the Flamingo and what was left at night we dedicated ourselves to walk and see some more hotels. We approach Bellagio to see the fountain show which repeats every 20 minutes. We pass by Caesar Palace again, and we arrive at the Mirage just in time to see the last part of the volcano show that takes place every hour on the dot from 7 in the afternoon.

We would have liked to have time to get to Treasure Island to see the siren show (every hour and a half after 7). We had not yet visited the Venetian. We could not leave Las Vegas without seeing this hotel, one of the most outstanding on the outside and, for us, the most beautiful on the inside.

We sat for a long time to rest on a bench next to one of the canals. Although it was obviously not Venice, we could not help but remember the days we spent in that city on our trip through Italy. As at night we were going to have the Halloween party, we had to take the costumes in the backpacks. To not carry them, we leave them at the entrance.

We sit in the main hall and, as if by magic, they bring the food to our table. The food was very good and plentiful. We could not finish it. The food is unbeatable. The best I've tasted in my life, from the salad, to the starters, the chicken, the pork, the prawns, the dessert. The waiter kept bringing us food. We were going to crawl out of there.

There are many people eating, but as we were near the windows it was a luxury to see the simulation of how the snow was falling. Then we went around the rest of the rooms that are impressive. We are young, we are beautiful, we are (not too) rich, so we naturally went out nightclub every night of our getaway.

It was only on the advice of a young woman vainly trying to trick us into the pool of the hotel that we went there. According to her the disco had recently opened and presented a decor to cut us off. The music on the other hand was hyper-commercial but able to reap all the tourists, which could promise a pretty cool and good-natured atmosphere.

It's after crossing the impressive ground floor of Encore Hotel that we are approaching the goal. There is a queue of a hundred meters spread before our eyes. It is 8:30 pm and yet the crowd is already on the war footing. Suffice to say that we plan to turn back.
But we decide to stand in this abominably long queue and take our trouble in patience.

I take this opportunity to detail the decoration of Encore. It suggests the best for the future with thick red carpet, gilding, luxury shops galore, chandeliers. I go to the washroom. Everything is dressed in marble, mirrors galore, faucets that hurt the eyes as they shine and hygiene absolutely flawless.

Back near my friends, the queue is moving at an impressive speed compared to the number of clubbers who pile up in this corridor. Indeed, the entrance to the disco goes smoothly. It took us 15 minutes to break everything to finally reach the crates. From the first meters after the entrance, we already know that we do not fit in any nightclub. The place is so impressive that we hasten to take our first shots.

It's just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The dancefloor is quite large and surrounded by soft beige leather seats, tables and podiums. The play of lights is fantastic with a harmonious blend of fixed soft lights and flashing bright colors.

Directly in front of us is the sumptuous outdoor pool, lit, on which float reclining seats much like sunbeds, but more mellow, larger, more comfortable and waterproof.

After our discovery of the places and especially the rates of consumption, we decided to go to play the slot machines of the hotel, sip glasses free and then come back a little later. On our return, a very bad surprise awaited us. We find a herd of customers, wailing in all the languages ​​after the bouncers. These explain to us that the waiting time to enter is about one hour and that despite our ugly stamps on the wrists we will have to wait.

The management takes advantage of people like us to get priority groups of people who have planned to buy a bottle. Scalded by this scandalous practice, we find another way to enter. By elbowing and avoiding the bouncers as in a James Bond scenario, we crept and snuck to the entrance. We had to explain politely, that we had paid our entry fee so we had access to the bar. We had to be damn convincing since we were let in.

I had never seen this before. I see hair brushes, hair straighteners, deodorants, dozens of perfume bottles, mascaras, single-dose gloss, cotton wipes and wipes, hairdryers and self-service eyebrow combs. It's really a crazy thing! After tasting this luxury, I can certify you that we regret that the majority of discotheques do not install this system. Contrary to what one might think, the clientele is not exclusively composed of well-off people. I am living proof of it.

I see young and old often located up at the VIP tables, beautiful and less beautiful and since we are in Vegas, we find a lot of tourists. But I also noticed that in Vegas and more particularly in the discotheque reigns a high concentration of discolored blondes. There are pretty brunettes, with generous forms, with indecently high heels and shortest min skirts. And often when we talk with these girls, we realize that they are American students and against all odds hyper-puritans.

If spirits had been a night owl, they would certainly have rushed to the XS after the parade as the place is magical!

Halloween Night in Las Vegas in USA wallpaper images calendar

Day 2

Today we got back on the road. We went to Death Valley. It was one of the great surprises of the trip. It was a place that initially did not attract me very much. While preparing the route, I thought about removing it from the itinerary since visiting Death Valley forced us to add enough miles to the route before arriving in Sequoia NP.

Before leaving Las Vegas we stopped at a gas station to buy supplies. We completely filled our fridge with drinks, food and ice, and took advantage of breakfast. When we arrived in Pahrump, shortly before the entrance to the park, we stopped again to completely fill the gas tank of the car. Inside the desert we only saw a gas station with gallons at the price of gold.

The first stop we made was Dante's View, a viewpoint from which to contemplate the salt area of ​​Badwater Basin. To get there we have to take a detour from 190 (the main road that crosses the park) by a secondary road. The route is about 21 km but it takes about 40 minutes to arrive.

The next stop we made was Zabriskie Point, located on the same main road that crosses the park. Zabriskie Point is characterized by the different shades of the rock formations of the place.

Shortly after passing Zabriskie Point and a little before arriving at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center we find the detour to the Badwater Road . On this road we find the largest number of points of interest in the park. We stopped first at Devil's Golf Course, an area of ​​salt land where to get there we have to walk a dirt road.

Until arriving at the most known point of the Death Valley, the Badwater Basin. A huge white expanse of salt that is 86 meters below sea level. From there we started our way back along the Badwater Road with the aim of traveling the Artist Drive.

The Artist Drive is a one-way road in which the main point of interest is the Artist Palette, located in the Black Mountains. To cross it we have to do it on the way back from the Badwater Basin. The colors of the rocks are caused by the oxidation of metals.

Along the way, we find some of the few inhabitants of Valley, the coyotes. We took the opportunity to rest a little in the visitors center of Furnace Creek. Here there is a shop for shopping, public restrooms and a hotel. It must be quite an experience to sleep in the middle of the desert.

We could not organize the planning in such a way that allowed us to sleep here one night but we would not have cared. We improvised a picnic outdoors in one of the tables of the Furnace Creek Ranch with some of the sandwiches that we had bought in the morning while several crows came to surround us.

When we finished eating we went to the Borax Museum in Furnace Creek, dedicated to the mining and borax works that years ago took place in this area of ​​the valley.

We still had to visit the dunes of Stovepipe Wells located half an hour away from the visitors center of Furnace Creek. Here we find the typical desert landscape.

When we left Stovepipe Wells, it started to get dark in Death Valley and we still had an hour and a half to get to Lone Pine, where we had booked our hotel that night. During that time we drove completely alone, at night and without mobile coverage on the roads of the park until we left it. It really is not the same to go around the park in the light of day than when it's already dark.

Shortly before 8 o'clock in the afternoon we finally arrived at Lone Pine, another of those typical towns where time seems to have stopped. We had booked a room in the hotel that has two types of rooms, the oldest located in the main building, cheaper and less comfortable. And the new rooms, located in the motel area, with bathroom and heating, and more spacious than the previous ones.

We rested a while in the room and ate some sandwiches, salads and yogurts that we still had in the fridge. At night we went for a walk around the town and ended the day in a typical local place drinking and playing a game of pool. We were in the American West and after days of travel we could almost feel there!