Hi everyone,My apologies but the following journal is a little out of date (almost 2 weeks) as I have been at the mercy of the local internet connection which has been non-functional for many days followed by my decision to hike into the mountains for a while – far, far away from any guesthouse or internet cafe.

I have much writing to catch up on and many more adventures to share but lets just begin where we last left off.

After leaving the Tushita Meditation Centre, filled with peace and love for all sentient beings and feeling rather detached from my perceived reality (or perhaps just weighed down by a philosophy overload), I have landed on my feet in the neighbouring valley and the little mountain village of Bhagsu.

Sprawling up the side of a very steep hill, Bhagsu and the nearby Dharamkot (the boundary between the two is difficult for even a local to define) were not so long ago a scattering of simple stone houses and patches of farmland winding their way through a cedar and pine forest. Over the past 10 years or so it has been a scene of constant change and development as it has been invaded by the most frequently encountered tourist throughout India – the Israeli Hippy!

I swear this place can be declared a minor state of Israel, as many guesthouses and restaurants continue to be constructed to accomodate the growing prescence of young jews who having recently completed their compulsory army service are now in India to just hang out and rebel against the system.

Bhagsu is like a picturesque taste of Indian village life combined with techno hippy mecca. The locals go about their daily business of tending vege gardens, goats and dairy cows to the drifting accompaniment of trance techno and muffled bass from one of the many Israeli hangouts. Most of the area is inaccesible to vehicles and everthing is connected by forest trails and steep, stone pathways leading up the hillside. But many of the old ‘authentic’ houses here share the landscape with recently built guesthouses catering for the increasing number of visitors. In fact, the local Indian families seem to make a tidy living from converting part of their homes and gardens into accomodation with homestyle hospitality for lone travellers such as myself, and a reluctant tolerance for the noisy tribes of young Israelis getting their first taste of freedom.

I was drawn to the energy of the place from the time that I wandered down from the sheltered quiet of Tushita and approached the steady trance beats and colourful cafe scene. The Israelis come here for the lush scenery, cheap living and easy drugs. The cafe scene is all floor cushions, tie-dye wall hangings and coloured lamps, tinged with the sweet aroma of hashish joints and inscense (much like the share house where I spent a large part of my 20’s). The young jews lounge around in groups dressed in every colour of the rainbow, smoking, eating, playing music together and just chilling out. They describe their scene as Shanti, a Hindi word for peace, and their shanti is very warm and welcoming. It is easy to start friendships here, the Israeli youth love to talk about their experiences and perspective of world issues, politics, life, love and healing. Passionate, intense and deeply personal conversations are frequent and many are genuinely interested in learning about Australian life and particularly my background in natural medicine.

As well as being a psuedo-hippy hangout, Bagsu is a place of learning, with a myriad of courses in the field of alternative medicines, self-development and healing. It is encouraging to see youth who are balancing their rebellious partying with the positve and life-affirming energies of Reiki, Ayurvedic Medicine, Chakra healings, massage, Tai Chi and many different styles of Yoga and meditation. During the day I was kept very busy pursuing my own studies in Iyengar Yoga and Tibetan massage. In the evening I would happily share my knowledge and experience as we sit and indulge in the excellent fusion of Indian and Hebrew cuisine on offer.

Alas, the weather has changed quite rapidly with the fast approaching monsoon and most days are now constantly wet. After having to cancel a couple of treks I had planned with friends, I have made a decision to leave what is notoriously known as one as one of the wettest regions in India and head further into the mountans ahead of the monsoon. I’m hoping to get some better weather for some overnight treks in the green alpine region of the Kullu and Parvati Valleys, but I’ll be racing the monsoon!

Having spoken to many fellow travellers about their experiences (and having endured a couple of overlong bus trips myself), I have come to the realisation that being on the road here is exhausting and a true test of patience and nerves. Most seasoned travellers choose to find a region of India and settle in for the experience – just take some time out to simply be. I have underestimated the effect on the country of the oncoming monsoon.

Already the south has become extremely wet and prone to flooding and this has led me to change my initial travel plans. Northern India and the Himalayan ranges have cast their spell on me and I feel that I can spend the rest of my time in India exploring this region and its cultures and trekking into it’s wild and beautiful landscapes.

Details of my Himalayan trekking adventures in my next journal.

Love and light going out to all,

Paul