The Ganga River in Rishikesh

Why My Love Affair With Rishikesh India is Over

All my life I’ve had a terrible pattern of falling in love with the wrong people, people that weren’t a good match for me. In the beginning of the relationship I’m overcome with a sudden burst of intense chemistry, and then I spend years, or even decades, trying to make it work. Now I realize that I did the same thing with Rishikesh India. At first I was attracted to her picturesque beauty, exotic charm, clean air, and the mighty Mother Ganga. But like any new relationship, the once rose colored glasses have turned dark. Now that the new relationship energy is over, I’ve begun to see obvious red-flags that I missed before.

I came back to Rishikesh for one main reason, to decide if I wanted to move here. All of the yoga, spiritual classes, Ayurveda, and recreation are very alluring. Plus, it’s cheap here, really cheap! I could probably live in Rishikesh comfortably on $500 a month. Unfortunately I’ve decided that inexpensive living is not enough for me. After a month in Rishikesh the clear answer is no. I can’t live here. These are the reasons why my love affair with Rishikesh, India is over.

Air Pollution

 

The first time I came to Rishikesh, in early 2016, I cried tears of joy when I saw the brilliant blue sky. Keep in mind that I had just left New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities on the planet. I hadn’t seen a shade of blue in the sky for months. The pollution in Delhi was so bad that on most days I could stare directly at the sun because it appeared blurry and orange through the grey dense smog. Rishikesh is in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains and she looked shiny and new to me compared to Delhi, a good 7 hour drive away.

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Rolling Stones concert in Lucca Italy

The Rolling Stones in Lucca Italy: A Spectacular Disaster

I went to the Rolling Stones concert in Lucca Italy, but I didn’t “see” the show. Probably only about 10 percent of the 55,000 people attending were able to see the show, because it was general admission on a flat field, that sloped slightly downhill the opposite direction. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get frustrated and soon drunk concert attendees were climbing up anything they could find to get a glimpse of the stage. Trees and concert rigging were popular places to perch, but it seems the best seats in the house were on top of the portable toilets! The Rolling Stones concert in Lucca Italy can only be described as a spectacular disaster, but I’m still glad I went!

The Ticket

 

I didn’t go to Lucca with the intention of going to the concert. But on my second day there we drove by the venue where they were erecting the stage and I realized that the Rolling Stones would soon be playing only three blocks away from where I was staying. So, I decided to go, but by that time tickets were next to impossible to find. I tried buying some online but the websites were all in Italian and they would only snail mail the tickets. With only a few days to wait before the show, I didn’t want to risk the tickets not arriving in time. Finally, I looked on Craigslist and got lucky! An American many (Jason) was going to go with his girlfriend, but she cancelled on him at the last minute. Like I said, I got lucky, and he got $200.

The view overlooking Biella, Italy

My Experience with Permaculture and Compost Toilets Near Biella Italy

My lifestyle as a travel blogger is rarely full of glamour and luxury like most people think. The past week has been a good example of that. I spent the days working my butt off for a family running a Permaculture retreat and education center in the mountains near Biella Italy.  Compost toilets, not-so-hot hot…

The streets in Old Medina Casablanca

8 Cultural Observations from an American in Casablanca Morocco

After being in the pristine and stunning countries of Germany, Austria, and Sweden, it was hard to adjust to life in a large, over populated, dusty, smelly city. I hate to admit it, but that really is my general opinion of Casablanca. Sure, it has some nice qualities, like beautiful beaches and the wealthy French Quarter, but in general my advice is that if you want to visit Morocco, skip Casablanca and try Marrakesh instead. I was there just long enough to learn some things about the culture, and here are 8 culture observations from an American visiting Casablanca, Morocco.

French influence

 

There is a heavy French influence in Casablanca that dates back to its history in the early 1900s. In fact, I think more people speak French than Arabic, at least in the area I was in. Street signs and marketing are mostly in Arabic, but everywhere you go people say “bonjour” or other common French phrases.

Stranded a long way from home

How I Ended up 3,000 Miles Away from Home with No Money or ID

It was a potentially life-threatening moment. I was 3,000 miles away from home with no money or ID. The temperature was about 90 degrees and I had been riding my motorcycle for hours. Exhausted, I pulled into a gas station to fill my tank. I looked down at where I keep my handbag and my heartbeat started racing. It was gone!!

What happened

About 100 miles back, near the Kentucky border, it had started raining hard. I pulled over underneath an overpass to put on the rain gear that my friend had let me borrow from her just for the trip. I ride with my bag slung over me, so I won’t lose it. I had to take it off and set it down to put on the rain gear. You can guess what happened next. A momentary distraction cost me dearly. I rode away and left it there under the overpass!

So, there I was at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, with no money to fill my tank, no ID, and no credit cards. I felt weak. I was sweating profusely and trembling. I sat down and tears filled my eyes. What was I going to do? I pulled out my cell phone. I could barely see the screen without my glasses and they were in my purse! The battery was down to 20% and my charger was also in my handbag! I was disgusted at myself for making such a stupid mistake!

Airport security guard staring at me

Safety Considerations for Female Solo Travel in Asia

He called out to me in the dark of night. “Madame come,” he said, from about 20 minutes away. There was no way in hell I was going over there. I didn’t know the guy. I couldn’t even make out his face in the darkness. I picked up my pace and headed in the opposite direction.

I’ve spent the last year and half traveling around Asia and living in India. I never had any real problems, but I was also acutely aware of my surroundings and very cautious. If you are a woman traveling around on your own in Asia, here are my recommendations for safety. Of course these precautions probably would apply to anywhere, but in a country where you might not understand the culture or speak the language, you must be extra careful.

Lie

I hate having to suggest this. It goes against every principal of my being. Why should we have to lie for our own safety? The feminist in me hates it!  We shouldn’t have to lie, but in certain circumstances it’s justified. Let me give you an example. I was in a taxi in Thailand driving through a fairly remote area at night. My taxi driver asked me if I was traveling alone. “No,” I said, “my husband is waiting for me at the hotel. He has some work to do.”  About 15 minutes later the driver continued to ask me uncomfortable questions, like where did I live and how long were we there?  I realize it’s possible he was just being friendly, but my instincts told me to be very careful. I picked up my cell phone and acted like I was dialing and talking to my husband until we arrived at my destination.  Many times I have had strange men hurry up to catch up with me and then ask me if I have a boyfriend or husband. I learned the hard way to say yes. If you don’t they will continue to follow you and try to make conversation.

Rohtang Pass: Experience of a Lifetime! (Part 2 of a 3 part series)

A  year ago if you had told me I would be standing in a bus, at an elevation of 13,000 feet in the Himalya Mountains, trying to decide if it was safe to get off  and help push it out of the mud, I would have thought you were crazy!  Fast forward one year later and you might think I’m the crazy one! One thing is for sure, traveling up Rhotang Pass was the unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

Why it’s famous

Rohtang  Pass is about 51 kilometers from the hill station of Manali on the eastern Par Panjal Range of the Himalyas.  The roads are rough and steep with no guard rails. Typically only one car can fit at a time even though there is two way traffic.  It is such an adventure that the History Channel has featured it on Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Roads.  Major traffic jams are common due to accidents, poor road conditions and snow and ice. In fact it is only open from May to November.