Living in Himalayas
One thing you want really good in your travels is the accommodation; Especially if you are planning to stay in a place for more than 2-3 days. I follow a simple idea to find the right place. First I look up on Lonely Planet and then Traveladvisor.lo0 Usually till now except for one I have never been disappointed. I prefer typical backpackers places! Reasons being 1] The staff gives personal attention 2] Usually very good crowd is found there and 3] They are very reasonably priced, very clean and quite friendly.
But then I also do another thing. Once I land up in the place, I quickly find a very cheap hotel nearest to the bus stop or the transport hub, keep my bags there take some rest and then go out looking for the right hotel. Usually within an hour's time I find the right place the way I want and shift there! At the most I might waste a day's charges, which in Himalayan towns can be as low as 250 Rs ! I find this better than a rixawalla taking me to his favourite hotels and pressurising me to rent a room where he wants me to.
Location :- In McLeodgunj with the same modus operandi I found out this nice hotel Kunga Guest House. It's walking distance from this main Chowk. I always prefer a place near to the main activity centre of the town. Preferably in a nearby alley, so that it's quite too. Kunga's location is excellent. Also thankfully you don’t have to climb at all to reach there! Otherwise in these Himalayan towns after you return from a daylong outing you don’t want to climb even one step!
Himalayan towns are vertical. On the maps you would see two parallel roads, in reality they would be at a difference of 500 feet ! So it is not uncommon to have buildings with one main entrance on one road and other main entrance from the 5th floor on other road !
Kunga is a family run hotel. The lady is from Arunachal Pradesh and her husband
Tenzin, is Tibetan. Very nice people in general. They also have a very well-known restaurant on the ground floor - Nick's Italian Kitchen. You do get some very interesting menu there. Cakes and Pies seem to be their speciality. Kunga has lots of rooms spread over several floors in different buildings. You have to walk around a couple of other buildings to approach some other rooms. I usually prefer to stay in the same building as the café on higher floors. One of the reasons is that the wifi range is excellent in the room then ! They also have a fantastic rooftop restaurant with some outstanding mountains and the valley views! Although it is on a rooftop, you don’t have to climb up the building as it is on the roof of the next building and comes up at the street level!
Library : - Kunga, like most such places in Himalayan ranges, has a nice multilingual library. Unless you are a bookworm you would like that. Just the sight of the library makes a huge difference ! Although these libraries are usually basically full of left behind books by travellers, Kunga does have their own collection of books too. I saw some very nice coffee table photo books on various topics like Himalayas, Tibet etc there.
In one of my visits to McLeod gunj I and Vinita had travelled through tremendous different weathers and finally did fell sick and got fever for a day or two. These guys and their staff were so nice to us. Got medicines for us and even gave room service for the smallest things we required.
Massage Centre :- Kunga has a massage centre. Actually it’s a husband and wife duo who are outstanding masseurs . They give Traditional Tibetan Massage and they are just outstanding! Tibetan massage apparently doesn't use lots of oil and I observed that it was more on the lines of acupressure. I think Tibetan Massage is more of a psychological relaxation therapy than physical ! One time I remember I reached McLeodgunj and I was badly stressed out, mainly due to very hectic travel schedule and some horrendous delays and situations at concert venues . 2 times this Tibetan massage literally took away all my stress !
Only for this massage I won't mind going to McLeodgunj once again!