Baylor - India 2019

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January 9th

From Takisha:

At this moment, we’re sitting around the table enjoying our final evening in India. There’s chatter about the souvenirs purchased at the market this morning and reflections on the moving exhibits at the Ghandi Memorial this afternoon. Our thoughts have now turned to home and the journey back, but the conversation over breakfast yesterday morning resonates for me. Yesterday we stopped for breakfast on our way back to Delhi. Students at my table looked out across a jade-colored Teesta River, relishing the fullness of this trip and expressing gratitude for the opportunity. Our journey has taken us to a bustling capital city and remote mountain villages. We’ve enjoyed the joyful laughter of girls at the Happiness Home and the reverent silence inside a monastery. We’ve watched the sun rise and set from terra-cotta colored boulders in Hampi and around bonfires built in front of our huts in Sikkhim. Students commented that this has felt like several trips all in one, but a common thread along the way has been the company of individuals whose openness and compassion have made our trip memorable. I echo the students’ sentiments. I, too, am grateful for the fellowship we’ve had and all we’ve learned and experienced.




January 4th to January 7th

From Natalie:

Our second morning in the Happiness Home was rather tender. We enjoyed a tasty breakfast which was accompanied by our new favorite drink, milk tea. It was not long after we woke up that the halls of the home were filled with laughter and chatter between the sisters. After breakfast, we packed up the bear necessities for the trek. As we packed, the girls popped into our rooms with a very tempting request for us to join them in a game of duck duck goose. We spent the rest of the morning chasing around the youngest girls, playing cards, and getting ready for our departure. We ate lunch with the girls and then loaded into our cars with the promise that we would be back in a few short days. The roads in Sikkim resemble the upper portion of the W road on Signal Mountain, only they are scattered with dogs, people, and an abundance of honking cars. The rides always jostle us around similar to a bull ride simulator, but the surrounding view does plenty to distract us. We drove for hours through towering green mountains as if every second will be the last. Over the course of the four hour drive, we stopped for samosas an unwillingly listened to Maroon 5 “girls like you” eight times in a row. Now we are sipping milk tea at a guest house that sits atop one of the many mountains that surround us. Tomorrow we will begin our three day trek, but for now we are staying warm.


From Lucia:

We did our second leg of the trek today - trekking around 3 or 4 hours. My favorite parts were definitely the bridges, but “bridges” may be a generous term seeing as it was actually just a pile of logs cradled in a piece of wire. When we arrived at the top of our trek, I was taken aback by the beauty of the mountains and the snowcapped peaks. I really enjoyed the view once we settled in to mountain hut. Gyatso asked if we would like to go on a short hike up a canyon - so me, Shibata, Lily, and Tim began yet another hike. The trail led us up high to reach the snow - just enough snow to throw a snowball at Tim. The hike ended in a Buddhist sacred area. It is considered sacred because of the presence of Guru Rinpoche. First we saw the holy water that flows from a rock outcrop in the shape of a sash. Then we entered a cave for wishing. There were rocks shaped as books - the sacred books of Guru Rinpoche. It was dark by the time we got back and the sky was illuminated with stars (more stars than I have ever seen before). The night ended with a bonfire and a dinner of rice and potatoes. All in all, a pretty fun day. As another day comes to a close, I cannot help but think of home, and while I am looking forward to sharing stories when I return, I think I will miss the excitement and adventure of India.


From Sierra:

The last day of the trek was almost all down hill. All though descending may be hard on the knees, the view was easy on the eyes. The hike included multiple bridges layered in prayer flags. Throughout the day, we had many breaks. One break, Gyatso and Tashi gave us baked potatoes in a corn flakes bag and boiled eggs. We finished trekking around noon and we were greeted by a tasty lunch of tomato soup and squash. After lunch, we began the journey through the curvy mountain roads. The ride was filled with music of playlists we have heard no fewer than fourteen times. On the way back to Gangtok, we stopped at a monastery and toured a bit. Dinner was at the Hotel Tibet and was filled with lots of laughs and good food. We ended the Sikkim portion of the trip at the Happiness Home and packed for our journey back to Delhi and the final day of the trip.



January 3rd

From: Kate

After a plane, train, and long car ride, we arrived to the Happiness Home on Wednesday night. Once we got settled in with some milk tea (THE BEST) all the girls introduced themselves to us. One of the girls I got to meet was Sunita, who I have been writing to as a pen pal for 5 years through Baylor Dance! In the morning we woke up early, but not as early as our days in Hampi. We started the day with a yummy breakfast of some more milk tea, potatoes, and bread that we all devoured. The Happiness Home is on the side of a mountain, and the view is unreal. When we got here last night it was dark, so the view was a breathtakingly beautiful surprise this morning. Snowcapped Mountains loomed behind the houses and trees that are on the green mountains below. We walked up the side of the mountain into town for souvenir shopping and lunch. When we eventually descended the mountain and returned to the house, we spent hours playing tag, catch, and duck-duck-goose with the little girls until it was time for milk tea and eventually Momo making. Momos are delicious little dumplings, and there’s a competition in the Home of who can eat the most. Shibata is currently trying to break the record of 36. He’s currently at 25, so we’ll see how that goes. Anyway, the Happiness Home is definitely a place full of happiness and laughter, and though I’ve only been here for a day, I love it so much. I know our time here will be over far too soon.



January 2nd


Today was a long travel day - overnight train from Hampi to Bangalore - flight from Bangalore to Bagdogra - and then a 4 hour drive up to Gangtok.  The students are staying with the girls at the Sikkim Happiness Home tonight.  Stories and pictures are on the way from the students tomorrow!

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January 1st

from Lily:

Our final day in Hampi was by far the laziest of the trip so far, partly due to our New Year’s Eve celebration from the night before. While we all pledged to ring in the new year together, only three of us actually made it past 12 to cheers our coca-colas and watch the fireworks in the distance. Though Maddie and I slightly regretted our neglect for sleep when our alarm went off at 5:30 the next morning, we gave ourselves a pep talk and energized ourselves for the day ahead.

The boulder problems may seem impossible at times and the rock is almost always insufferably sharp, but the best motivation to push through the pain is the hope that maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll be seen doing something super impressive in the drone video footage. I have also found that one of the best ways to tackle a frustrating problem is to step back from the rock and take in the beautiful scenery that is present anywhere you go in Hampi. The mountains of rock stretch on for mile and miles— farther than I can see— and the sun in the mornings fills the sky with pink and orange. After climbing (and photographing cactuses) for a couple of hours, we headed back to the guest house to pack our bags and eat a well earned Nutella and banana pancake. On the walk home we encountered the same kind of monkeys we saw at the temple the day before. I did my best to “get big,” as Shibata suggested, to scare off the monkeys, but I ultimately just ran away in fear, hoping that the rambunctious creatures would spare me their clawed wrath.

As I’m writing this blog entry, almost everybody in the group is napping or reading in the lounge area at the guest house. We are all super exhausted from our bouldering but also super bummed to leave this paradise. We are only a train, plane, and automobile away from our next adventure in Sikkim. It’s hard to believe the trip is nearly halfway over, but at least I can confidently say the journey is smooth-sailing ahead because I was not only blessed by a sacred elephant, but also shown mercy by the hoards of monkeys.





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December 31st

From Maddie:

If I could describe my day in one word, it would be good. It began before sunrise as always. We beat the other climbers out there, and everyone but me got shown up by the barefoot kids selling tea. Just kidding! Everyone killed it, and I climbed my rock of the day. Overall climbing was a success. Then we journeyed to a temple, beginning with the spinning boat ride across the river, which Jen especially enjoyed. Then we began the rock part of the journey, AKA my Everest. We climbed, slipped, and slid across the rock, admiring the rock carvings on the way. Then we made our way to the temple/breakfast-lunch but were stopped by the paparazzi on the way. Once we had taken the appropriate amount of selfies with them, we went to a restaurant where we ate delicious food and listened to some major bops. Then it was time to go to the temple, so we paid to take off our shoes and went to go get blessed by the elephant. Once we all had good luck for the rest of our lives, we wandered around the temple looking at the carvings of Shiva and feeding the monkeys banana peels. Then we ran away from the monkeys because they were kinda scary. After the temple we went back to the hotel to rest up for our big 575 stair climb up to the Hanuman temple at the top of the rock mountain to watch a gorgeous sunset. Now we will be staying up till midnight to celebrate the new year in India. Happy New Year!


December 30th

From Caroline:

My favorite part of this trip so far has been India’s astounding nature. This morning we saw a leopard! We’ve also seen dogs, cows, yaks, monkeys, and even an elephant. After we finished climbing today, we explored the ruins of a temple to Shiva. There was another, smaller temple across from the large one. The ruins overlook rice paddy fields and banana trees. Sitting on top of a boulder next to the temple, I saw the most incredible view I’ve ever seen. I’ve also really enjoyed the motorized rickshaw rides. It is so interesting to look out at the people, as I feel it has given me a good idea of what daily life in India is really like. India seems like a natural paradise, and I know I’ll remember my experiences here for the rest of my life.


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December 29th

from Eric:

Just the Lone Wolf here (I might be losing my mind, but who really knows). It was a long night on the train with lots of snoring, crying , and the typical train noises; some people, like Tim, slept like logs, while others barely slept at all. When we finally arrived in Hampi, there were boulders for miles and miles. If Heaven was a place on Earth, this would be the place. The climbing here is phenomenal. There are some evening events that should be enticing to the students but are forbidden by the old folks: the Drum Circle. Also I have never seen fresher, juicier watermelon in my life before. That pretty much concludes today. 


-Shroath

P.S. Maddie and I beat Tim an Jen in a game of spades; my record is beginning to look good (1W-10L). Also I look shorter in that main photo since Tim cut off my legs because I was Sorority Squatting. 


December 28th

We board a plane to Bangalore this afternoon and then an overnight train to Hampi.  Students will begin writing when we have some down time on the train.

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December 27th

After many hours of travel, the group arrived in India and settled in to our favorite place to stay Delhi.  We will sleep late in the morning before heading south to Banglore and Hampi!


Itinerary


December

26 meet at the Parry Center at 10:00 AM

depart Atlanta 

27 arrive in Delhi 

28 depart Delhi - arrive Banglore - overnight train to Hampi

29 Hampi - bouldering

30 Hampi - bouldering

31 Hampi - bouldering

January

1 Hampi - bouldering - overnight train to Banglore 

2 fly to Bagdogra - arrive Bagdogra - jeep to Gangtok

3 Gangtok

4 Gangtok - drive to Lingthem

5 trek

6 trek

7 trek - Gangtok

8 fly to Delhi

9 Delhi - late night flight

10 arrive in Atlanta


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Flight Schedule


December 26th

depart Atlanta (Air France 681) 5:35 PM

arrive Paris 7:55 AM

depart Paris (Air France 226) 10:20 AM

arrive Delhi 11:15 PM (December 27th)


January 10th

depart Delhi (Air France 225) 1:05 AM

arrive Paris 5:55 AM

depart Paris (Air France 688) 2:00 PM

arrive Atlanta 5:55 PM