Friday, September 20, 2013

What I've Been Doing This Summer: Part One

Two of the guidebooks I've worked on have been released in the last couple of months: Lonely Planet China and Lonely Planet India.

For the China guide I covered Xinjiang and Tibet, in total about one-third of the country in terms of size.

For LP India I covered Himachal Pradesh and the West Bengal Hills. My personal favourite was definitely Spiti but I also always enjoy returning to Dharamsala after so many trips to Tibet.

My top tips for HP: the Orchard House in Chamba as a super peaceful place to hang out for few days in the foothills and do some day hikes (great trekking opportunities in Chamba Valley!). I'd also recommend taking a few days and walk one of the homestay treks around Kaza in Spiti.

In West Bengal I enjoy the grand old dame that is the hill station of Darjeeling but my favourite place is Kalimpong, partly thanks to Norling at Holumba Haven who showed me some great regional hikes that I was able to squeeze into this edition of the guide. Anyone who has read the travel accounts of Francis Younghusband, Alexandra David-Neel, Charles Bell and Heinrich Harrer will definitely want to savour a beer at Himalayan Hotel, where all of these illustrious travellers spent a night before embarking on a classic Himalayan voyage.

My last tip: I thoroughly recommend a home stay and tea tasting at Makaibari Tea Estate. You can overnight in a homestay with a tea worker, pick leaves with them in the morning, roast them in the afternoon and then take away a packet of your very own hand-picked tea. How's that for a cool Christmas present?

More to come: currently putting the finishing touches to new editions of Lonely Planet guides to Bhutan and Central Asia, for publication in 2014. It's been a busy summer...

 Views of Kangchenjunga from Kalimpong walk

 Freshly picked tea leaves from tea estate in Darjeeling


Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

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