Lava is situated on a ridge in Himalayan mountains. From our little balcony on the third floor of “The Hotel Orchid”, you can just see down to the plains. We saw very few other customers during our stay, but it was not tourist season. The hotel staff seemed to be family and treated us warmly, serving us tasty food and offering lots of smiles.

Lava features a monastery so we walked down to have a look. Here’s a view of the compound from our hotel:

You must walk around monasteries in a clockwise fashion (looking down from the sky). On our way around the little hill we saw some carvings in the bare rock, a particularly mountainous mountain, and the monastery itself.

From the monastery looking back you could see almost the entirety of Lava, as well as some monks painting some stupas.

The workmanship of the delicate and colorful architecture was in contrast with the typical Indian building. For example, many Indian homes and businesses have perpetually unfinished top floors with bare concrete and rebar poking up into the air. This is because if the building is under construction, you do not have to pay taxes.

This video gives a good feel for the little town.

The bathroom in our hotel was small, but one of the nicer (cleaner) ones on our trip. Definitely sufficient for a bucket bath for Lincoln.

The next morning we awoke to roosters (4:45 am), gongs (5:00am), dogs, and someone singing. We had another meal with the friendly staff and packed up to leave.

Through even the smallest towns and all along the roads, there are people running small stands selling chips, gum, drinks, and all kinds of packaged “treats”. This was so common, in fact, that it became one of the defining features of India for me.

Our bus showed up. The “jeeps” we had been on previously had spoiled us. Now we participated in a more common mode of transportation. It was very crowded, but Ryan let me know that it was often much worse.

I saw very little complaining from Indians. A typical American on this bus would be tempted to throw a fit. But people accepted the situation they had been dealt and persevered. I was fortunate enough to get a seat by a window. There was a girl just in front of me who was sitting on some railing. She was quiet the entire 1.5 hour trip as the bus jostled across bumpy mountain roads. Three times she opened the window to throw up, and then returned to sitting without much expression on her face. After my time in India, I have been somewhat slower to complain, but as my time in this “rich” country continues, it becomes easier for me to demand my comfortable lifestyle.

We didn’t get much time in Lava, but enjoyed its quaintness and its people. Soon enough we arrived in Lolaygoan and it was a much different story.

More to come.

(Links to previous installments: Part I, II and III)

P.S. Here is a gratuitous extreme zoom in to Lava, India.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-rcfJzL8Ag[/youtube]