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Originally posted by RussHaywood
Yes, I've done both!
In 2006, I spent three weeks in India for a gut-wrenching "Globalization in Context" class. I also spent all summer of 2007 on a train in Asia; a month driving from Tibet to Kathmandu. You won't regret going to either India or Tibet, even if it costs $10,000. But make sure you're there for at least 2.5 weeks. Although I'd be wary of spending more than six weeks--these are stressful places (and I'm a war veteran).
Here are my general thoughts.
.....So many colors and smells! And you've never seen poverty until you've been to India. Some places you might visit will literally be as they were 3,000 years ago. There's an unlimited amount of spirituality centers you can visit if that's what you'd like to explore--but make sure you do some thorough research, there's a ton of bull#. However, I think simply working with a good non-profit in a rural area helping people, will be far more intense and meaningful than hitting a yoga retreat.... (i.e. www.rideindia.org)
There's no way to travel Tibet without being in a tourist group. It's Chinese law. Furthermore, it must be a tourist group with a company that has an office in China (my recommendation is Intrepid Travel). They've had many problems with tourists "causing problems," and it's not uncommon for the government to randomly cancel ALL tours of Tibet, without warning. So it's possible that you might have to spend your whole "Tibetan adventure" in a city like Xi'an or Chengdu. "Real Tibet" is bigger than the map says it is. You can start getting into the Himalayan foothills in Western Sichuan Provence where you will find "old Tibet." There is simply no way to write how the Tibetan wind and space feels--it's simply majestic. And some places make you feel as if you're walking on Mars. It can be a cold and lonely place--there is not much to do beyond drink Yak-milk tea, marvel at the scenery, tour monastery after monastery, and wear your winter coat (even in August).
I certainly had my most spiritual experiences in Tibet. It truly is a mystical place. One was at Mt Everest. It was cloudy and we were afraid that we'd not see the mountain at all. I stood in a small dirt street by the local little monastery waiting for my group, I was just starring in the mountain's direction, when at 7:30, the drums and horns in the monastery started to beat and flair next door. As the music echoed through the canyon, there, like a child slyly peaking through a think set of curtains, the clouds started to part and the peak ridge line of Mt. Everest glimmered through the mist! Magic.
It's a big world and fun to get lost in! But be careful, you can get too lost--and you won't fully come back... and this is only something that I've realized years later.
good luck!edit on 15-2-2012 by RussHaywood because: (no reason given)