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January 13th 2009
Published: January 13th 2009
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First stop: LadakhFirst stop: LadakhFirst stop: Ladakh

Exploring Ladakh, first day of trekking
Waw! Times flies and again, I neglected my blog... So here is the story of the last few weeks, but first, I wish you a happy 2009 with a lot of happy adventures!

Mid-December, I was still in Goa, and although I could hear the Christmas music, it really didn't feel like Christmas to me. My trip to Africa was cancelled, and I really had no plans for the rest of the winter, and even though part of me still wanted to be in India, I thought about doing something special for my family for Christmas... I changed my tickets and flew home to surprise them at their Christmas supper.

So one morning I went to Panjim, took the local bus, where again the locals were so helpful and friendly to me, arrived in Margoa, from there I took a rickshaw to the train station. The driver was a super nice older man who was telling me all about his country and wishing me luck when I left and told me I was always welcome in India (I can you not like these people!), and then it was a very long train journey all the way to Delhi. Over
A BuddhaA BuddhaA Buddha

In a monastery in Ladakh
24 hours, but it was a Rajdhani train, which means a faster, more luxurious train. It was the first time I was travelling in 2AC and although it is a little more comfortable, it is very boring compared to sleeper class. Only 4 people per compartment, and curtains all around, I couldn't see outside nor in the alley. I felt almost clautrophobic and missed the entertainment that you always get in overcrowded, bustling sleeper class. I spent most of these hours just lying on my back, except when my Nigerian neighbor started talking to me. He was very nice and friendly, but I could only understand a fraction of what he was saying, but he just kept talking anyway. The Indian fellow on the lower berth was getting so bored too that finally he climbed up and sat with my Nigeria friend and started chatting with us too. I laughed looking at them, perfect strangers, sitting close enough to each other that their knees where touching and at times, one would put his hand on the other guy's knee. Something that would start a fight in other parts of the world! But in India, guys can hold hands, without worrying
A Ladakhi womanA Ladakhi womanA Ladakhi woman

We were invited at her place for lunch
about what people will say.

The other interesting thing in that train was that the food was included. They brought us food constantly, and delicious food, I thought. Real Indian thalis, and it was so well presented too, typically Indian: doing simple things with so much class. And the boys serving the food were very friendly, although they never stopped working. The guy in charge of the blankets made a real show when he realized I had no sheet and no pillow, he shook his head and apologized 5 times before he brought me a set of bedding.

Finally we arrived to Delhi, and I had a few hours to kill before going to the airport. It was so much fun, I really feel comfortable in Delhi, at least in the area I know best and I felt like I was coming home, in the same hotel, going to the same restaurant, etc... I had a real shower, remembering how nice it is to have hot water coming from the wall! I bought many presents for friends and family and had a wonderful time with the shopkeepers. I had one more Indian thali, headed to the airport and
Our guide and his harem!Our guide and his harem!Our guide and his harem!

The group in Ladakh: our local guide Gailson and the girls. On his T-shirt: PEACE, is it really so difficult?
left India one more time.

It was a somewhat long flight but almost empty, so luckily I had lots of room to stretch and sleep. But I felt sick again, and once in Amsterdam, I was spoting at all the garbage bins just in case... I had a 9 hour layover and was again very bored. Plus, for the price of a juice or tea at the airport, I could have bought 5 meals in India... Everything was so expensive. But it's true, they don't have stroopwaffles in India...

One more flight to Montreal, and I was getting extremely bored, too many hours of travelling... But I finally landed in cold Montreal. It was in the 20 below range, and I was wearing... sandals! Thanks to a friend, I only had to walk a few meters and she handed me a real winter jacket and her sister's boots. I went to her place, where I stayed, hiding for a few days before going to visit my family.

On December 25, I knew my mom, dad, sister, grandmother and other people would all be at the same place for supper. I knocked on the door. My sister opened
Chemrey MonasteryChemrey MonasteryChemrey Monastery

Blue sky, yellow mustard, and beautiful monastery
it and say 'Hi' just like if I had seen her the day before. I first thought she knew I was coming... But then I saw she had no idea, the next few seconds she went totally silent. I could see a big question mark in her face, while she was trying to understand what was wrong in the picture, and then a big smile when she realized I was not in India, but here, with them, for Christmas. I got a big hug, while my parents came to the door also and everybody looked puzzled and incredulous at first but soon we were all laughing and I told them that this was their Christmas present, and if they didn't like it, it would be very costly to return it!!!


To me Christmas is not really Christmas without snow and family. So this was a wonderful Christmas. And even if I love India and want to see more of this big country, right now I am really happy to be in Quebec, where I usually have just a few days to visit family and friends. Now I have many weeks here, with other little trips planned until I
Beauty parlourBeauty parlourBeauty parlour

We had mud, and our cook gave us cucumbers!
go back to the Yukon in the spring. For now, I rediscover Montreal, and it really feels like I am travelling, even if I lived in this city for over 20 years. I am excited just going to the grocery stores, and taking the bus and metro, even the cold weather doesn't really bother me much. I find real pleasure in very simple things such as being able to brush my teeth with tap water. Still, in many ways, it feels like I never really left, and the past year was just a dream.

Oh, and my Christmas present to you is... a bunch of photos... You may have to click on page 2 to see them all.






Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 26


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On the glacierOn the glacier
On the glacier

On the way to the Parang La
Morning on the trekMorning on the trek
Morning on the trek

Beautiful sunrise in the mountains of Ladakh
A classicA classic
A classic

I went to the Taj...
Colorful IndiaColorful India
Colorful India

A fruit vendor in Fatepur Sikri
African sunsetAfrican sunset
African sunset

Africa has the nicest sunsets
ZebraZebra
Zebra

Serengeti National Park
Baby LionBaby Lion
Baby Lion

So cute
On Little MeruOn Little Meru
On Little Meru

Getting reading for 'the big Meru'!!!
EliasElias
Elias

Nice and extremely efficent guide
On KilimanjaroOn Kilimanjaro
On Kilimanjaro

On top of Kili with 2 clients, one cold morning
GiraffesGiraffes
Giraffes

Arusha National Park
WildebeestWildebeest
Wildebeest

A strange antilope, an amazing migration
Sunset in TanzaniaSunset in Tanzania
Sunset in Tanzania

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Grinding cornGrinding corn
Grinding corn

to make flour


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