Saturday, August 6, 2011

My mom was afraid I'd have to sleep in a train seat for two days, or, Greetings from the Dharma Lounge

So it was nighttime, so I stumbled around the train, and found this cafe/lounge car. It has two rows of four seats each, which made perfect beds. One was taken, so I sprawled out on the other. The next morning, I found that my companion, Jampel, a twenty-something white guy like myself, was a Buddhist monk. His friend Tsundru joined us, and we spent the rest of the trip hanging out and talking Buddhism and things. (and juggling.)

It is interesting and humbling to hear about Buddhist experiences of other young folks like me. Well, it's rare, is all. They brought up an interesting point: sure, Buddhism's been around forever, but is young in America, so there aren't these huge organizations about it. I might like Buddhism because I'm confident that it's not hogwash, but I knew it before it was cool.

The train car attendant, Tashi, not only let us hang out in our own little lounge, but joined us and brought some tea. Turns out he was Tibetan, and used to be a monk himself for 17 years. Wonderful! ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེ་།! It is also exciting to talk about Tibet, Nepal, and India with fellows who know about it and can share my excitement.

Washington is bigger than I thought (and we slept through most of it), Montana is wonderful,
North Dakota is only a little less beautiful, and only in Minnesota and Wisconsin does it start to feel a little more developed. Oh, and we're 8 hours behind schedule (bringing the total trip to 53 hours). There's a water tap on the train, the food is a bit pricey but fine (I'd bring my own more next time), bathrooms and leg room are plentiful, the observation car has ceiling windows, rest stops are rare but enjoyable, and the whole thing feels a lot more human/less soul-crushey than planes.


  1. Now you know why I love trains so much. I've never been on a train for more than three hours without meeting at least one fantastic person who wants to hang out and chat. So personal! So friendly! Plus, riding through Glacier was totally worth it, amiright? :D
    I'm so glad your trip is off to a good start!!

  2. Strange things can happen on trains, I hope you brought your organ donor card.

  3. Eww- What did that last comment mean???-

    Glad you found a friendly tea lounge to sleep in. Im not a bit surprised.

  4. So, I was reminded of (one of) your other great train rides, in an overnight sleeper car with the world's most interesting man. Stay thirsty, my friend.

  5. Well I was a bit disappointed, I didn't meet any dukes of Northumberland (or maybe Sutherland) this trip.

  6. Oh yeah, and Glacier: super great. A little sad I didn't get to drive through it. But man! Who took all the great scenery and put it in Montana?