Tag: WTF


Teahouse trekking, overall, was a treat.  Super unique experience, relatively comfortable accommodations, and hot food every meal.  One of the few downsides were the toilets and showers, which were all squat, never stocked, and often dirty.  The bucket shower, where water is boiled in the kitchen and hauled up to the bathroom in a bucket, was a new experience for all.  We couldn’t show you all pretty pictures of Nepal!

Inviting, isn't it?

Kinda cell-like

Hard to imagine they need this sign...

...when the toilet looks like this

A western toilet! Hooray?!?!

And a bucket shower

But it's all worth it when you look out the bathroom window and see this

Himalayan Porters

The Annapurna Circuit is made up of a series of dozens of villages that line the Marsyangdi and Kali Gandaki river valleys. Access to these towns has traditionally been by donkey and foot only, though the construction of the new access road up each valley is slowly changing this way of life. Despite these new developments, hauling supplies to these upper villages is big business in the Annapurna, and thousands of people earn their living moving extremely heavy, awkward loads up steep rocky paths at high altitudes, and doing so in flip flops. We passed (or were passed by) dozens of porters each day, and we were continually awed by the loads they managed to carry. For instance:

An average load

Note the head strap, where most of the load is carried

It's not always the men! These women can carry quite the load

Sometimes, porters would travel in groups

An awkward load

A skinny load, but NO SHOES!!!

This one looks particularly heavy

Creative packing


At one point, I attempted to lift a porter’s load, which is carried largely on the head and neck.

You can do it!

Unsuccessful.  Mad respect for these guys, some of whom are carrying over 150lbs, well more than their own weight.

No, no you can't... Shiba, quit laughing!

After seeing everyone else’s loads, we didn’t feel so bad about the bags we had our porters carrying.

Easy loads!

Other trekkers, not so nice to their porters:

You're supposed to pack your stuff in a backpack, but they'll make any bag work

I was blown away by the amount of manpower we witnessed.  I was also rather surprised not to see more of these animals, which seems like a lot easier way to carry all that weight!



There is a delicate balance to be struck when taking photos of locals and their ceremonies.  On one hand, you really want to get those amazing shots.  But on the other, you HAVE to be respectful of the subjects of your photography.  This dude was way out of line at the Ganga Aarti ceremony in Rishikesh.  Don’t be that guy.


Cows are everywhere in India.  Deemed sacred by the Hindu religion, cows are free to roam as they like, in the streets, in your yard, on bridges, in intersections, etc.  The downsides to cows’ spiritual status are plentiful, including poop everywhere, traffic blockages, and occasional aggressive behavior.   But in India, nobody seems to mind.

Cows in the square

Cows on a bridge

Cows on the street


India has some interesting social norms when it comes to public displays of affection, romantic or platonic. As a general rule, women and men are not allowed to show affection for one another. In many places, women must cover themselves completely so as not to attract the eye or attention of the opposite gender. In a culture that still relies heavily on arranged marriages, dating is forbidden and many men and women don’t even meet their life partners until they are soon to be wed. There simply is not a lot of flirting (publicly, at least).

However, it is quite normal for both men and women to show platonic affection to others of their own gender publicly. Behavior that would likely be perceived as homosexual in our culture is simply a demonstration of everyday friendship. It is typical for men to embrace, hold each other, and then hold hands while they walk down the street. For us, a handshake that lasts for more than a couple seconds starts to feel awkward, and when the Indian man at the other end of the shake doesn’t let go for 30 seconds, I’m feeling like, ‘let my hand go dude’. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little overt brotherly love – it’s just not what we’re used to. But it’s quite a bit harder to accept the cultural norm that women are not to be seen by men. Gender equality has quite a long road ahead here in India.


Ted and I were casually B-List celebrities in Amritsar. Though Indians in big cities and tourist towns are used to seeing foreigners, Amritsar (being a pilgrimage point) attracts Indians from all over the country – some from tiny villages in remote places that never see travelers. For that reason, we white folks were kind of a big deal. Walking around the temple and out in town, we were constantly being stared at, talked about and pointed at. Some folks would indiscreetly rush by and snap a photo on their cell phone without saying anything and some people would come up and have us pose in a picture with their whole family. Though initially uncomfortable, I quickly got on board and was holding babies, hugging grandmas and standing awkwardly next to teenage boys. Being white had never been so exciting!

P.S. Women had to cover their heads when visiting the Golden Temple, hence the awkward scarf on my head in the photos.

Posing with the locals

Smile for the camera phones


The parking lot at Mehrangarh Fort.  You know, cars, motorcycles,…camels?!?  Now that’s sightseeing in style!

Camel transport to Jodhpur's Fort


Where else can you see an elephant in the middle of a big city, and not have it turning heads around every corner.  India’s madness is everywhere

Elephants cruising the streets

More elephants on the street


This is the first of many WTFs from India.  Most days, at most moments, I can look around and find something in my line of vision that makes me say, WTF?!

Here, we start with the squatting position, a pose we westerners are none-too-comfortable with (try it!  Squat all the way down, but keep those feet flat on the ground.  Not as easy as it looks!).  But these Indians, they can do anything squatting.  Most popular squatting activities – using the toilet, having a chat with some friends, drinking chai, eating dinner, and…raking?  It’s not that they can’t make their rake/brush a stand-up length – Indians just prefer to squat.

Squat and rake


Check out these stylin’ sandals, worn by many of the Masaai people (who are one of the last nomadic cultures on earth).  Made out of used car tires!  In Africa, everything gets reused (though nothing gets recycled).  Our cultures could stand to learn a bit from each other.

Cut straight from the tire

At least you know they won't lose their tread

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