The Beatles Ashram (Chaurasi Kutia)

We couldn’t help ourselves from indulging in some western pop culture while half way around the world in India. So Chaurasi Kutia or more commonly known as the Beatles Ashram, was definitely on our to-do list. We took the 20 minute stroll from Laxman Jhula down to Ram Jhula, wandering the back roads, stopping to say hi to some animal friends along the way.DSC01407DSC01410

Rishikesh was relatively unknown up until 1968 when the Beatles arrived here seeking peace and spirtuality in the height of their popularity. They wrote over 40 songs, some of which were later featured on the “The White Album” and “Abbey Road”. The guru they came to see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was famously known for Transcendental Meditation. John Lennon would later write “Sexy Sadie”,  a song exposing Maharishi for trying to get with one of the bands lady friends (allegedly).


Maharishi started building a massive ashram in 1961 focusing on this type of meditation practice. It operated until 1980 when he left to continue spreading his teachings around the world, at which point the Indian government took back the land. It has since been part of Rajaji National Park and left to be consumed by the forest surrounding it.


Still a popular tourist spot, up until recently people would sneak in through the unguarded fence, wander around the many vacant buildings and sit in some of the 84 meditation chambers that still stand today.


Beautiful graffiti style art is painted inside and out of the partially crumbled structures, especially in the Satsang Hall where you can see murals of the famous band and their memorable lyrics written on the walls.


The rumours were confirmed when we arrived. Sneaking into this place is no longer possible or necessary. The Indian government has recently started to clean up the grounds, cutting brush, posting signs and making paths. Realizing the popularity of this unofficial tourist attraction, they are now charging guests to get in. We were disappointed it was no longer free. They charge 600 rupees for foreigners (150 for locals), equal to our daily food budget while visiting India. Maybe it was the luck of Buddha, or our Canadian charm, but as things would have it we met a group of very friendly American tourists when arriving at the gates. Before we could decide whether or not the experience would be worth the rupees, one of them had paid our way.  Feeling very grateful we joined their tour and exchanged contact info before they left. We snapped some pics of their group and plan to send them as a thank you.


We then spent the next couple hours alone exploring the living quarters, the yoga hall, the meditation chambers and the roof tops, imagining what this place was like in its prime.


We think the decision to revitalize this place is a good one, it sounds like they have big plans for it. Its a little hard on the wallet in comparison to other local costs, especially for a couple cheap backpackers. But the experience is great, there is so much to take in, and you don’t have to be a Beatles fan to appreciate this place… but who isn’t?


The tour guide explained Rishikesh is very lucky to have been visited by the Beatles. It has put the town on the map and made it the tourist destination it is today. But it is not only the band to thank, it would not have been possible without the work of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man they came here for.


Our day wrapped up by taking part in the Ganga Aarti Lighting Ceremony at the banks of Ram Jhula (another great experience we want to write about), and of course stopping again to visit some smaller animals on the walk home.


Britt and Jeff 🙂

Rishikesh: First Impressions

Its January 15th and we have been in Rishikesh one week. Rishikesh is a meat-free and alcohol-free city located in northern India, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganges River. The river is considered holy (known by the locals as The Ganga), and the city is known as “the birth place of yoga”, and is filled with places to study and practice yoga. There are many temples and ashrams (centres for spiritual studies), and the city attracts hippies, backpackers and people seeking personal and spiritual growth from all over the world.

Britt is 6 days into her month long Yoga Teacher Training Course at Vinyasa Yoga School (she will post an update on that soon). Our time has been spent exploring most of the area around Laxman Juhla, a large suspension bridge crossing the Ganges. We have yet to venture downstream to the further reaches of town.

During the day, the streets are filled with scooters, cows, and folks eating, shopping, taking classes, and taking in the sights. Here are some pictures of our favourite things to do here.

Cafe Hopping/Eating


One of our fav spots Little Buddha


Some live music inside Royal Cafe


Chai Tea time inside Little Buddha


The evening view from Krishna Cafe


Israeli breakfast at Pyramid Cafe ($2.50 CAD)


Dinner time! Veggie Masala at Little Buddha


Pizza at Little Buddha (we told you it was our fav) ($3.50 CAD)


Nutella and Banana Crepes at Devraj Cafe, a popular spot! The coffee was very strong but we hadn’t drank one for a while so it still hit the spot.


Protein Packed vegan pancakes and green tea at Delmar Cafe aka 60’s Cafe, a tribute joint to the Beatles.


Indian Breakfast at Cafe De Goa, great view of the bridge. The Indian style pickles that come with this dish are so strong but delicious.


Walking the Streets


A look down the street, close to Hotel Qube where we are staying.


One of many vendors selling colourful bags and fabrics.


Fruit stand and a cow peeking down from above. You can buy whole fruits or have them pressed into juice right before your eyes.


We’ve been leery of the Lime Soda Stand, as refreshing as they look we don’t know if they use safe water. The Butter Cookies we have tried, and they are awesome!


Shiva is the most popular Momo spot in our area.


Fried Momo’s from Shiva. (50 IRN – 80 cents CAD)


Tons of options for street food here. Everyone seems to be eating it but we heard it can make you sick…the odd meal out is totally worth the risk! So far so good.


Cuddling cows!


Monkeys are all over Rishikesh, especially around the bridge. They are cute but they will steal your food and are known to get aggressive, don’t make eye contact!



These larger black faced ones seem to be the most aggressive. We were sitting in a cafe when one jumped in the window and stole food right off someones plate!


Yoga and Meditation


Classes and retreats literally everywhere.


Britt studying for her course


Britt after her welcome ceremony at Vinyasa Yoga School.


Taking in the View






Dip in the Ganga


Some locals and tourists going for a dip in the holy waters.


Jeff getting his feet wet in the Ganga with a young lad who is hustling flowers for Buddha.


Hanging with the Locals





This is a list of our favourite things to do, thus far. We have only been here a week, and we still have about four weeks to go, there is much more to do here.

How to Get Scammed in Delhi

At 6:30 in the morning, our plane touched down in New Delhi, India. The air was heavy and you couldn’t see out the plane windows due to the smog. Delhi is the most polluted city on the planet, and the second largest city in the world (behind Tokyo), with a population of over 18 million people.

Delhi is not to be taken lightly. It is crazier, dirtier and smellier then we could have ever imagined. No amount of research could prepare you for how amazing and awful this place is. The intention of writing about our bad experience isn’t to speak badly of Delhi, we haven’t experienced a fraction of what it has to offer. We will go back.

By 8:30am, we were standing out front of the New Delhi railway station. We just got off the express line from the airport, feeling quite accomplished for having navigated this portion with ease. All that was left was following the hand written walking directions we had jotted down from the Smyle Inn website. A quick 10 minute walk would get us to this hostel located in the Main Baazar, a ghetto backpacker neighbourhood full of super cheap accommodations.

Things went downhill real quick from there. We started down the sidewalk flooded with people, vehicles, stray dogs and garbage. We were greeted by a ton of locals offering cheap rickshaw rides. Initially we declined, but ended up accepting an offer because 30 rupees (60 cents) sounded like a good deal and it beat walking. We loaded all of our gear into his sweet ride, and set out for the hostel. He was super friendly, spoke good English, and we felt pretty safe and comfortable. We made a couple turns and then pulled up to the entrance of what looked to be a parking lot. The guy manning the gate walked up and asked, “where are your permission passes?”. He explained the Main Baazar was holding a festival, and because of the recent terrorist attacks in northern India the city was on high alert and we could not enter the neighbourhood unless we had our passes. Sounds legit? He told us in order to obtain these permission passes we had to go to a government tourist office, show our passports, and we would receive them, free of charge. He wrote down the name of the office. He cautioned us to not have any money out, and not flash any belongings because it was unsafe. We were a little leery, but didn’t really have another choice, being that we had all of our stuff and had no idea where we were, so we let our rickshaw driver take us there.

The “tourist office” was a tiny hole in the wall storefront, we walked up some stairs to a little room where a man was sitting behind a desk. We explained our situation but he already knew what we were talking about, and he asked us if we had a reservation at the hostel we wanted to stay at. We said no, and he kindly said he would call and see if there was room for us there.

Now we are aware of the typical scam “oh that hostel burnt down/is full/is closed, I’ll take you to a better one”, which earns the scammer a commission.

He called our hostel (ya, right), and of course they said they were full. He said that there was no way we would be able to get into the Main Baazar area, and the only options for us were to get a hotel in the city center (where prices are 500 dollars and up), or to get a taxi out of the city, because it may not be safe for us anyway. At this point we knew for sure that something was up, and walked out.

Our rickshaw driver was waiting for us outside. Still trusting him, we got back into his rig, and asked him to take us back to the train station. He was hesitant, making up excuses why we shouldn’t go back there, and at this point we were getting nervous, so we were pretty firm with him. He took us to this street he was claiming to be around where the train station was, and it looked nothing like where we had started out. As we spent more and more time with him, his English got worse and worse,  and all of a sudden he could barely understand us. We pulled over to the side of the road, where a well dressed local claiming to be the Delhi Police approached us, telling us the same story that the guy at the parking lot had (festival, terrorism, blah blah blah), and gave us another tourist office to go to, claiming that the one we had been at was fake. He also stressed about keeping all money and belongings hidden, reinforcing the scare tactic. Again, not having much of a choice other than getting out of the rickshaw on a sketchy street with all of our stuff, we set out for the next tourist office.

The next one wasn’t any better then the first. Same look, same style, another guy sitting behind a desk. He didn’t really seem to push the whole Main Baazar being closed thing, but he was pushing the hotels in city center or a driver to take us out of town. Our original plan was to stay at our cheap hostel, and to take the train to Rishikesh in the morning; But with the bullshit these guys were spinning, that plan seemed like a fairytale.  So a hired driver striaght to Rishikesh seemed like the lesser of two evils.

That is unfortunately what we did. Booked a driver at their tourist office and worked out a price that should have included a luxury sedan, a gourmet dinner and a tour of the Taj Mahal.

Thinking about it now, the rickshaw driver, the parking lot guard, the first tourist office, the “police officer”, the second tourist office, and the bank, was a tangled web where everyone gets a cut for bringing the naive, jet lagged tourist to pay huge money for a hotel or a car ride. Even both the men saying for us to keep our belongings hidden was a way for them to make us feel that we needed to stay with the rickshaw driver because we wouldn’t have been safe otherwise, which isn’t necessarily true. Could we have walked out? Could we have booked it cheaper somewhere else? Absolutely. There is no question they wanted our money. But they didn’t seem to want to hurt us, rob us, or any of the other terrible things we thought might happen if we continued to walk around this unknown world loaded with all our belongings.

But luckily 6 hours later we arrived in Rishikesh in a run down van, driven by an old man who didn’t speak a word of English and spent the ride coughing up bits of what we could only assume to be his lungs. After reflecting on this experience, we realize what we could have done differently. We are regretful and bitter about how things went down, but still appreciate the beautiful chaos that is Delhi.

We did not manage to pull out our camera amidst all of this, however we snapped a few pics with our phone of New Dehli and some smaller towns on our commute to Rishikesh.

Britt and Jeff.




Layin’ Over in London Town


Last night we took a red eye flight from Pearson International in Toronto to Heathrow International in London. Our plane left at 10pm Ontario time, it was about 6 hours long (for some reason I thought it would take way longer to fly across the Atlantic Ocean) and arrived in London at 9:30am, London time. Which works out to 4:30am Ontario time.

We are flying with Finnair (British Airways) this time. We’ve only ever flown coach, because let’s get real, who the hell has that kind of money for first class tickets. But let me tell ya, if we had a couple extra grand to blow on plane tickets, we would be first-classin’ it up. It is ballin’ in there. You basically have your own private hotel room on the plane. Coach ain’t that special. But we were pleasantly surprised to find in-seat entertainment, they give you blankets and headphones and all that fancy stuff. And they feed you. And the booze is free.


Anyway, 9:30 this morning rolled around, and we got off the plane groggy, confused, lost and excited. The airport is about an hour ride on the tube (subway) from downtown London, and being that we only have about eight hours total here, we decided to play it safe and skip the sights. A fella we talked to said the only other proper thing to do on a short layover is to hit a pub and sample the local fare. So like the respectable Canadians we are, that’s what we decided to do. He recommended a place called The Pheasant, which was a short (free) bus ride and walk from the airport.



Now neither one of us are opposed to breakfast beers, but still having our internal clocks set on Ontario time, and indulging in a meal of fish and chips and chicken and mushroom pie for breakfast, was pretty heavy. But it was so delicious. Ordering was confusing, as etiquette in English pubs is  different from the practices that we are accustomed to. The server doesn’t come to the table, you go to the bar to order your drinks, and if you want food, you go to the bar to order that as well. Once we got that figured out, we were good to go.



The surrounding neighbourhood is interesting. A combo of newer and kinda haggard row houses, some with either a Range Rover in the driveway or an old worn-out mattress. It’s strange.


Now we are back in the airport, where Jeffrey is rocking a nap looking sweet with his eyeshades on.

Jeffsleeping.jpgAnd that’s about it for the London layover. If you find yourself in Heathrow Airport with a short layover and nothing to do, check out The Pheasant!


In Our Backpacks: Packing List for 3 Months in Asia

I’m a list maker. I make lists for everything. Grocery lists, to-do lists, you name it. So it was natural for me to want to make a packing list, three months before we started packing.

We’ve never been overly light travellers, nor have we ever been on a trip longer than two weeks before. Most of our travelling has been done on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, where the pack list doesn’t need to be too complicated. A few bathing suits, couple pairs of shorts, some tank tops. The less clothes the better, in humidity where your hair frizzes instantly and your wet clothes never dry.

This packing list is different. WAY different. The main differences being:

  1. We are going for three months.
  2. We will be journeying through a number of different climates.
  3. We need to take into account that in Asia, less isn’t always more. From what we have read, there are certain ways you are expected to dress when you are visiting different places, temples especially.

Disclaimer: We are totally new at this. These are not our suggestions of what we think you should bring backpacking. For all we know, we may be outrageously overdoing it. It is just a product of the research we’ve done, combined with the type of people we know we are and the certain creature comforts we will think we will need. When we get home from our travels, we will update you on how things worked, what we needed and what we didn’t. Any suggestions, let us know! 🙂

The Gear

Photos Library

Both of our packs are made by Osprey. We have had them for a couple years now and have held up great. We went with Osprey packs mainly because of the lifetime warranty the company offers. They are both 60 litres. Jeff’s is the blue one, the Aether 60, and mine is the green one, the Volt 60. 

For our carry ons/daypacks we have these JanSport knapsacks. They were cheap, are decent size, have a sleeve for your laptop or tablet and a space for your water bottle. We are going to dress them up with buttons so we aren’t “that couple” who matches.

What Did They Wear?


As I wrote up above, it was a bit of a struggle deciding what to bring, due to the fact that we are going to be travelling through a few different climates.  Where our first home base will be (Rishikesh, India) is pretty chilly right now, in January (as low as 5 degrees at night). Thailand is relatively hot and humid most of the year. I also had to take into account the way I need to dress during my yoga teacher training, and what to wear when we visit temples and places that require you to dress modestly. Below are two separate lists, what clothing Jeff is bringing and what clothing I am bringing.


  • (5) pairs each of socks and underwear
  • (3) pairs of swim shorts
  • (3) pair of regular shorts
  • (1) pair of jeans
  • (1) pair of khakis
  • (1) pair of track pants
  • (4) muscle shirts
  • (4) t-shirts
  • (2) hoodies
  • (2) plaid button up shirts
  • Rain jacket
  • (1) pair of flip flops
  • (1) pairs of running shoes
  • (1) pair of water shoes


  • (6) t-shirts
  • (6) tank tops
  • (1) maxi dress
  • (1) maxi skirt
  • (4) pairs of shorts (a mixture of comfy and jean shorts)
  • (5) pairs of leggings/yoga pants
  • (1) pair of hippie pants
  • (1) dressier shirt
  • (2) hoodies
  • (1) poncho
  • (2) kimonos
  • sarong (can double as a blanket, scarf, towel, anything really)
  • (1) rain coat
  • (3) pairs of socks
  • (10) pairs of underwear (I always pack way to much underwear)
  • (4) sports bras
  • (2) regular bras
  • (3) bathing suits
  • (1) pair of flip flops
  • (1) pair of running shoes
  • (1) pair of water shoes
  • (1) pair of Toms (so comfy and easy to travel in)

I know, its crazy. It looks like way too much, and it very well may be. But when you pack all of those clothes into these handy dandy garment bags from the dollar store, all of it compacts into this.

Clothes in bags

I read quite a few blogs where fellow bloggers were raving about packing cubes, like these. Although we would have liked them, we personally couldn’t justify the price. These bags cost $1.50 each, are breathable mesh and are easy to find things in. They probably won’t last half as long as an actual packing cube, but it won’t hurt our feelings to toss them if they rip.

The Toiletries


Perhaps the most important section, the stuff that is going to keep us clean and healthy while we are away, the toiletries and hygiene items.


  • Deodorant
  • (2) Razors
  • Cologne
  • Sunscreen (SPF 60)
  • Tea Tree Shampoo
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hair paste
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste


  • Favourite shampoo and conditioner (I have unruly hair that tangles if you look at it wrong, so I have to be picky with what I use on it)
  • Hair straightener (This isn’t a definite. I’m hoping I’ll have a last minute moment of strength before we go and I will be able to leave this at home)
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Deodorant
  • (2) Razors
  • Hair brush, hair elastics and bobby pins
  • Lip balm
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
  • A couple headbands and a few bracelets/pairs of earrings
  • Mascara and undereye concealer
  • Nail clippers and tweezers
  • Laundry soap sheets
  • Probiotics
  • Essential oils (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil)
  • Vitamin E oil for moisturizer
  • Activated charcoal

Not Pictured

  • Electrolyte salts
  • Melatonin

The Gadgets


Also really important, the things that we are going to use to document our trip and to stay in touch with family and friends.

  • Macbook Air
  • iPad (I use mine as a Kobo and download books from iBooks)
  • Sony Alpha a6000 Camera
  • GoPro Hero  with mounting hardware
  • iPhone 5C (if you get your phone unlocked at home, you can purchase a SIM card wherever you are for cheap, for unlimited data usage)
  • Bluetooth speaker for beach days

Not Pictured

  • Mini tripod
  • Various charging cables for gadgets
  • Headphones (just cheap ear buds)

Miscellaneous Items


The stuff that didn’t fit into any other category…

  • Airplane pillow x 2 (these ones are from Canadian Tire, they are memory foam and are amazing)
  • Plastic bowl and Spork
  • Hammock that folds up really small (from Ticket to the Moon) and hanging straps (not pictured)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Earplugs (a must for hostel dorm rooms and overnight trains)
  • Eye mask x 2
  • Travel toilet paper (a lot of public toilets don’t have toilet paper)
  • Nalgene water bottles x 2
  • Yoga mat (my favourite is The Mat 3mm from Lululemon)
  • Lonely Planet’s Guide to Southeast Asia and India
  • Some travel reading  (Wherever You Go, There You Are and the Bhagavad Gita)
  • A colouring book of mandalas (and markers)
  • Pacsafe Bag Protector
  • Turkish Towels x 2 (super absorbent, fast drying, and a fraction of the size of a beach towel)
  • Cotton/silk sleeping bag liners x 2 (in case of questionable hostel sheets)
  • And last but certainly not least, a personalized blanket of our cat, Miguel


Not Pictured

  • Extra bag lock
  • Electrical outlet converter
  • Money belt that goes under your shirt
  • Miggo camera wrap (we didn’t want a big camera bag that would take up a ton of space, considering it will be in our day packs most of the time, plus this one has cats on it :D)
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife


And that’s it! Our three month pack list for Asia. We will update along the way to let you know how we are making out with the items we packed. Thanks for reading!

Love, Britt