Ooof so after a ludicrous 14 hour non-sleeper bus ride, I arrived in the small town that's home to the Dalai Lama, my new publication, and the entire Tibetan government in exile - alongside the Tibetan refugee community. This is Mcleod Ganj in India's Dharamasala (in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh).
Luckily there were a few other travellers on board; Josh and Luke, a couple of British students on a few casual gap months, a Frenchy, and one of my new best (and only) friends from Korea: Jun Park. He's some kind of superstar back in South Korea apparently. I think he comes from a long line of Korean royalty and is almost definitely, vaguely, related to ex-Manchester United footballer Ji-Sung Park, possibly.
Jun appeared to know where to go when we stumbled off the bus around 5am, so I stuck with him… together we marched up a steep hill and found a hotel / hostel to rest our weary butts; I can tell a real professional when I see one.
After agreeing to share the best room in the house, with my new homie Jun - we saw a group of red-bollocked monkies larking around the balcony area. I also spotted a gun on every floor fixed to the wall. Whilst admiring the monkey business, I enquired about the air-rifles… "that's for the monkeys" they tell me. I'm in the hometown of the Dalai Lama and one of the most spiritual places on earth, and they provide us guns to shoot (or scare away) monkeys with! How bizarre. Having said that, the raging beasts are pretty scary when they're running towards you when you're half asleep… and I do feel better knowing a hand-gun isn't too far away.
With no rest for the wicked I head straight to the office to crack on with the serious business of assisting the local community with web-design, true journalism, and a little English teaching on the side. Outside my window, I can hear children singing throughout the day from the school below. It's genuinely a magical place here.
After my first class one of the students, a twenty-something refugee called Pema, asks for some time as a private tutor to help him with his pronunciation. How could I refuse. We meet for coffee after school each day and spend an hour or so going over his homework and exploring new words.
It's an incredible place with a fantastic community and some great people. I wish I could stay a lot longer…