Notes from Asia
A trip by Matteo Trisoglio
from Dehli to Moscow (oct 2004 - apr 2005)

Torna a Il Labirinto | Travel Pages

Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2005
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Moskow

Dear all,

five years after and Moskow looks pretty much the same, just a little cleener and more in shape. As usual one sees people that got extremely rich after the rise of the capitalistic system and at the same time the poor that still look nostalgic about the rude but somehow efficient comunist social system. It's amazing to see how the development of a society goes on. As soon as there's some money and wealth men think only of buying big cars and women expensive clothes. Then they go together in expensive clubs to boast their success and get drunk and happy. Can't it be different? Couldn't be there a different pattern for the development of the individual?

Besides that Moskow is a pleasant city to hang around, you find together zarist architecture, comunist relics and XXI century buildings and people. It's nice to stroll around and walk by watching things going on, a bookshop with old shelves, a boulevard with the statue of Gogol, old "babouskas" selling salami and tights.

Well, the travel is almost over, I don't know exactly how my bank account looks like but apparently in 6 months I've spent between 2700 and 3000 euro including the plane, all visas and the luxurious green tea I bought in China. Therefore I've been on what calculated and I'm glad about that.

And now? No idea whatsoever. Me and Soazig will take different routes and begin different projects individually. Me, I think I will become luese once more, for a while at least.

So, that's the end of the Asian mailing list, thanks to all for the support. I hope sooner or later to meet everybody for an extensive chat and some good time. Until then have serendipity and keep smiling along the dusty road.



Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Irkutsk - Baikal lake

zdarova muzhiki!

so many landscapes in so little time. My eyes are full of all the changes and yet I feel that Europe is coming closer, little details like the birch trees or the taste of the bread.

The Baikal lake, 600 km long, 2 km deep, one fifh of the fresh water on Earth, is de-frosting nowadays but still looks like a plain white desert and cars are still running on it.

It's also cold and if you watch the weather forecast, next time they speak about cold Siberian wind, think it's here that the chill is born.

Tomorrow is the longest day, we take the train to Ekaterinbourg, 50 hours and 3400 km. I like the train ambience so much that even after 30/40 hours I wish I could stay a little longer. But I'll see after two nights, no shower and more cabbage...

Da svidanya!

On the train   Bolshoi  


Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 11:07:34
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Mongolia

Hello people,

some quick news from Mongolia, as quick as the permanence on this country, only four days by-passing on the way to Russia. We rapidly entered in the "long distance train" atmosphere, six days on the train before Moskow are long to pass, so plenty of books to read and lot of meditation by watching out of the window.

It's also a continuous eating and snacking, we buy food on the stations and eat along the way.

The landscape in Mongolia is empty, fenceless, nobody for hours, just some camel and horses. So empty that by looking at it one becomes a little empty himself and at the same time feels full and rejoycing.

But that's it for the philosophy, an interesting discovery I came across in Mongolia was that now I know where the caracter of Indiana Jones comes from: it was the adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews who first went exploring the Gobi desert and found dinosaurs skeletons, eggs and primordial mammals. reading his life made me also ride a horse in a desert storm fighting against thieves and beasts.

But it will for the next time, Mongolia is not really part of this travel.

Later on more news from Russia

Be happy,

Gobi    Sleepers  


Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005 05:59:14
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Beijing

nee hao everybody,

China is big and complex, quite impossible to undestand in just a few days, so we decided to travel through from Tibet, quickly come to Beijing and buy the ticket for the train back to Europe.

It took 60 hours to cross all China from Tibet, divided in 4 days of course and we've still managed to see some South parts of the Gobi desert, the terracotta warriors in Xi'An and now explore Beijing. At first I don't like too much China, it's trying to get modern as quick as possible, boasting wealth and consuming everywhere, polluting and kicking human rights. Anyway that's what US and Europe have done all along their history so I shouldn't be surprised the Chinese want their share too.

Apart for that Beijing has some nice corners where life is slow to normality, people selling food and old communist curios. In the same day we visited Mao's corpse (rather waxy) and the WTO supermarket to compare the change. We made the compulsory visit to t! he great wall which is a crazy and useless thing, imagine the romans building a wall upon the Alps the defend themselves!

Unsurprisingly food is bad for a vegetarian and when I manage to find something veg it's so heavy fried that it takes three days to digest.
Luckyly tomorrow there's the train to Moskow, first stop in Mongolia, then we'll see the mood, I can't wait to reach the white steppes and to buy cabbage pies directly from the old Russian grannies.

Zai jyen,

Great Wall    Mao  


Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005 11:00:08
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Tibet

The road from Kathmandu to Lhasa is 1100 Km long and it took 6 days to run along it. Tibet is too much of a country, it’s high, it’s vast, empty and filling at the same time.

We crossed the Himalaya with a jeep, it’s the only way this time of the year, the highest point is a pass 5250m high, I was a little out of breath and I don’t know if for the lack of oxygen or for the panorama.

The road runs not far from the Everest north face but unfortunately it was a little cloudy so I couldn’t catch but a glimpse of the Everest / Chomolungma.

Tibetans are nice and funny, going around on horseback and tending yaks and sheep. After having seen so many refugees in India and Nepal I’m happy to see them in their natural environment, the Tibetan plateau, a kind of plane half the size of Europe and 4000 meters high. It’s sad though seeing the Chinese domination, all looks rhetoric, the show of the “people’s republic” power, the supermarkets in Lhasa and the TV shops where only Han Chinese have money to go. I’m determined not to get angry, it doesn’t help but it’s irritating (to say the least) to see such a pure land transformed in a nuclear bin, to know that lakes are drained to make electricity and to observe arrogant rich driving around in huge jeeps covering with dust the people beside the road.

I discovered that here people are very dirty, in fact the dirtiest so far seen, I don’t recommend a visit in a local toilet! I’ve also discovered weird sides of Buddhism as a (former) powerful, temporal religion. In Tibet monasteries were rich, wealthy, ruling people with sometimes great cruelty; certainly a situation far from the original message of the Buddha. Another parallel with our Christian church., but probably all that was still better than the soldiers of the red guard.

Only a months now is left from the trip, 30 days and 12.000 km in the Asian trains and buses, more news from China later on.

Be happy all,


Jeep    Pass at 4930 m    Pass at 5220 m   Potala


Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 13:47:02
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Kathmandu II

Hello all,

my staying in Kathmandu is almost over and I really hope so. In fact I'm having a good time here but life is not permanent and we can't plan anything well, Maoists make a lot of trouble and it will be good to leave this valley.

So, according to the snow melting on the high passes and to the road blockage which will end next Sunday, we will leave on Tuesday for the "Snow land and its forbidden city". Chances are not clear yet, I hope a good 90%.

For the rest I know every grain of dust of Kathmandu, its messy narrow roads with busy (as usual) people that sell anything, women that cry to sell some vegetables and rickshaw wallas who try to kick everybody out of their way.

We went for a little trek last week, not long but we couldn't get far by bus because roas where patrolled. So just four days on the lower Himalaya, we visited towns of farmers and shephers, none of which with electricity, they only use candles and some solar panels. It's strange in these conditions to live after sunset, at six you are stuck in the dark and don't know what to do, at eight we were invariably in bed!

Now I'm just letting days go by until departure, situation here is quiet because there's an awful lot of security, but just outside Kathmandu valley and in all Nepal the guerrilla is hard, my feelings is that the rebels have lost control and are going against the population itself. I don't know, some people expect the worst for the future, Nepali people are sick and tired, but still happy and managing to keep their cool.

Be happy,

Masks    Ping-pong    Trek


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 13:14:46
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: what I'm I doing here

Namaste all,

for some reason I've been away from internet for a while and now I have to catch up.

We have been to Sikkim, trekking and having a good time in that mountain region, something like Schwitzerland but with Indians as a plus! But I will talk of that another time, now I just write about the time in Nepal.

Maybe in the West you got some echo of the strikes and Maoist problem and the King taking all the powers. The very day that everything happened we very unaware and happily moving from the Indian border to the Nepali one. Somebody was saying there was a strike but not much more, so we actually crossed the border, arrived in the next town Kakarvitta to discover that everything was blocked for 3 days. That town is something that usually people don't even look at, you cross the border and take the bus to go further. We happily had to stay there, with all the shops closed, no telephone, no internet, nobody on the roads. Buses were not running in fear of the Maoist so we just had to stay quiet, eat, sleep and take some sun while walking around. The atmosphere was a little unreal, but I enjoyed it somehow as I needed some time to clean up my mind after India.

The fourth day bus was back so, still without any news of the problems, the king's actions and Maoist's counter reactions, we went for a lovely trip of 19 hours (5 delay) by bus to Kathmandu. Here situation now is ok, the King even gave back the telephone and Internet as all the business was down and people started to become a little irritated (no wonder why they don't like this monarchy).

So life is running normal even for me, visiting the city (very lovely), reading and planning a trek among the peaks. I'm so relaxed that I even enjoyed all this mess, probably some traveller virus is acting. Anyway I think that Nepali deserve some better government and leadership because they are not that rich and can't make so many big mistakes.

First picture taken in Kakarvitta, second in a little market in Kathmandu.

Be happy all of you, more news form Nepal later on (if
no revolution starts and we have to fly away)


Field    Scale


Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:01:31
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Darjeeling

Namaste all,

a quick one since we are in Darjeeling just for a couple of days before entering the restricted area of Sikkim.

I've finally seen the mountains, the Mountains! What you see in the pictures is the Kanchenjunga, 8535 m, third peak of the world. It was already astonishing from below, I can only dream of going higher up there. What brings me back is the real life, at an altitude of 2200m Darjeeling is cold and freezing. No place
here is heated except the very expensive hotels, so we are in the cold air from dawn to dusk, a little like our grand parents 50 years ago in the country side.

The English colonialist though had good taste and chose a lovely place to spend their summers, away from the dusty and hot Indian planes, we drink good tea (trivially), walk among the tea plantations and look down into the green lushing valleys. Sounds victorian, isn't it?

Be happy,

Darjeeling    Kanchenjunga


Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 06:24:35
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Calcutta

The great game

I used to think that people in the West live like mad, running from here to there just to accumulate money or power or something they don't even know. But here in India I discovered many analogies, people act the same way or almost. Actually the pace is slower, Indians take it easy. Anyway for the last four days I observed the stream of life in the narrow roads of the old Calcutta. I had the picture of a thousand ants moving together, deply immersed in important tasks and commitments. There is the little boy who delivers chai (Indian tea with milk), the man who pushes barefoot his rickshaw (see photo), people shouting from their stalls trying to sell always the same low quality dresses. They (we) are all part of a game, a dream, a net of connections where nobody is independent and everybody lost the reason why he's there.
Is anybody awake? Is anybody able to tell me what's the matter?
A little pearl of Indian life: here usually everything is handmade, they are a billion and a worker is very cheeply paid. When you buy a drink on the street or on the train, a tea for example, they do not serve it in plastic glasses but in handmade clay cups. When you finish your tea you simply throw away the cup, it will melt in two or three days. At first I thought it was a great idea to reduce pollution, but then I remembered that usually Indians don't give a damn about environment. The reason slowly aose like a revelation: here it's cheaper to handmake thousands of small clay cups with material available in the nature than to buy plastic to produce glasses. Astonishing, now I have the proof why factories move here or in China their business.

Calcutta is too polluted and noisy for me, tomorrow we'll be off to Darjeeling and Sikkim drinking good tea and watching the high mountains.

Namaste, be happy,

Charmeur    Walla


Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 14:40:38
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: orissa

Namaste all,

Here we are in the tropical state of Orissa, in Puri to be precise. This part of the coast was virtually untouched by the disaster so life is normal, no dead people, fishermen have kept their boats and all infrastructures are well. We checked for some volunteer possibility in the South, in Tamil Nadu but it’s impossible right now. India is pursuing the hard and independent way, it’s refusing international aids including the UN’s so only the army and some big NGOs are now allowed to work and mainly with doctors or nurses.

So here we are again, 30 degrees, coconut trees and miles of deserted beaches. The city is not very special; I suspect I start to have enough with Indian temples and their noisy colorful crowd.

Instead here there’s a good atmosphere to practice concentration and cleaning my mind. It’s actually one of the aims of this trip. We spend years to build a vast culture, years to grow a reputation and self respect, lots of energies also to train our bodies in sports. DO we dedicate even 10 minutes a day to train our mind? Usually not, because nobody ever taught us to do so. And it’s a pity because we could be so much happier, healthy and also helpful for all the other people. That’s what I’m trying to learn in these six months, being relatively free from all the usual stuff like working, cleaning the house, etc I can concentrate a lot more in the processes that happen inside my mind (not only a brain), analyze its way of reacting and try to clean up and eventually set some order. A practical example is trying to taste the food of a meal completely, from the beginning to the end without losing the concentration nor allowing thoughts to sneak in. Are you ab! le to do that? Not me, awareness is still a long way further.

Experiment is in progress, updates later on…

In the photo “women” you see some women that walk for kilometers on the beach gathering wood to use in their ovens while their men (“boat”) go fishing with very unstable and rather heavy boats.



Boat    Women


Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 22:30:46
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Bodhgaya

Namaste all,

the tsunami quite changed our plan, once more reminding that making plans is somehow silly. Funny because we were planning to take the ferry to the Andaman Islands the 3th of January! I’m sorry we missed the chance but more sorry for all the people involved, here something like that (in smaller proportion) happens almost every years (last in Bangladesh).

We’re in Bodhgaya, well safe ashore and people here watch everything fatalistically. We also though to go to the South coast towards Madras to volunteer but roads are somehow congested and it’s better not to add more mess at the moment.

So we take it with philosophy and stay here one week more hanging around the town where Buddha got enlightened hoping for a drop of wisdom to spill over. There are quite a few westerners but especially monks from all over Asia with their robe of all the different tones of red and orange. Nobody seems much concerned about celebrating New Year’s eve so I think that we’ll be very sober, no alcohol, simple food and just a slight variation in the schedule; it will be hard to stay awake till midnight, as generally there’s not much to do when it gets dark I usually to go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6/7!

Another thing we’re learning quickly is how to deal with beggars and bums. Through all the cities that we visited we found poor people but also some ignorant lazy people addicted to donations westerners give to them to relieve from some guilt they have.

So our policy now is that we don’t give any money at all to children, especially if parents are around. On the other side we visited some offices and organization they are trying to arise consciousness among badly educated people, helping them to become productive, starting a virtuous loop to increase the quality of their lives and eventually to free themselves.

P.S. I’m still not homesick but I would like to hear more from you all, these days I’m going to repeat that this trip in just as interesting as your daily lives and I always like new thoughts to confront. So, please, write, write, write.

Be happy,


Crane    Namaste


Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 14:16:53
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: benares

Aka Varanasi, this claims to be one of the oldest cities in the world; Mark Twain said of it that Benares is older than history, older tradition, older even than legend. I saw a fire by the place where they burn the dead corpses that it's claimed to be lit for the last 6000 years. I don't know if it's true, it doesn't matter much but walking along the Gange here gives some different feeling. Varanasi is the dirtiest city I've seen so far, the Gange is polluted over every imagination and I feel dirty myself for all these people that take a bath, make a shampoo, wash their clothes, do every imaginable activity.
So obviously we decided to stay here for a little longer to soak up the atmosphere, stay away form the noisy Indian cars and make some shopping in the old part of the city; I needed to change my trausers so I ordered by a taylor a new cotton pair "sur mesure" for a good 3 €.

It feels strange to be in a warm place now but it's soon Christmas.
Merry Christmas then.
For Indu people Jesus is seen as a perfect emanation of Brahman and for Buddhist he is enlightened as much as Gautama the Buddha. I now think that, despite all the blood spilled in his name by our Mother Church, his message is still lovely, compassionate and true.

P.S. the man in the Gange it's not me!

P.P.S. Due to some burocratic issues we now need to plan a bit further our trip, so I believe that for the end of February we'll be in Kathmandu arranging for some Visas. We'll then surely go for some trekking in the Himalaya, it will be easy and not high as the weather will still be chilling and cold but if somebody wants to join us I don't think it's difficult to organize a trip to Nepal and would be nice to be all together...


Cremation    Holy Bath    Holy Laundry


Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 09:59:52
From: Matteo Trisoglio <>
Subject: Punjab to Rajastan

Namaste all,

chaos of the impact with the real India (after the Tibetan colony) was so adsorbing that I did not have time to write anymore.
So, it's really an extreme country, Indian people everyday brings me to the point of anger and after just few minutes to the point of delight. But I'm improving and finding my middle way.
In Punjab we knew the very friendly Sikh population, as every tourist we slept and were given food for free for three days in the main temple of Amritsar, someting built with the help of 100 Kg of gold, for the Sikh religion the equivalent of La Mecca. Since it's an off the track city people were quite amazed at us and asked for pictures, where are you from and so on, I'm improving my hindi words but I still can't go beyond 4 or 5 so conversation ended there.
After 18 hours of train we arrived in Jaipur, Rajastan. I did not like it since it's too touristic and big, everybody there is crazy for money and the fact (true) that we are clearly westerners means that our wallet is spilling rupees and they are allowed to find anyway (not also legal) to take money out of it; so looking after ourself there was rather tiring.
It's amazing the amount of noise the Indian traffic makes, motos and cars blow horns 30-40 times (it's a true statistic) a km, just to be sure nobody gets hit and the driver ends up with bad karma. The result is noise pollution and headache if you stay around all day. So after 4 days me and Soazig decided happily for Pushkar, quiet little town by the Thar desert, no cars, dry warm air (25/28 degrees) and a good terrace to read my book and speak with people. This place is famous among Israeli, in fact there are plenty, they come here (some go to Goa) for weeks or even longer to chill from Israel's bad environment, not a bad idea, I just would prefer they wouldn't spend all their time blowing out their mind with bhang lassis. After six months visa is over and they come back home just as stressed as before. But that's not up to me to decide.
Tomorrow we're back in Delhi for a couple af days before heading South to Benares, the holiest of the cities.

A warm ciao to all of you, hope your time is fine back home
Be happy,

Pic    Another pic


Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 11:26:19
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: dhamma

Namaste all,

try this: make sure that for ten minutes nobody disturbs you, sit comfortably in a dim or dark room and try to observe your respiration. Don't think, just mind your breath. After a few secs you'll find out your mind went away, so you bring it back to the respiration, mind goes away again, and so on and so on. We are unable to train and control our mind carefully, therefore we are not in good control of our lives.
I'm just back from a 12 days meditation retreat based on the Vipassana technique originally taught by Buddha. For all this time I went on a journey in discovering the (rather disturbed) habit patterns of the mind. The teaching is simple, hard is to apply it. We encounter and experience sorrow and pain because either we crave (I want more) or we have aversion (I don't want it). The recipy is: if we want to be happy we must stop these two habits by remaining equanimous and balanced, neither crave nor feel aversion, sensations are impermanent anyway.
During these days I experienced on me the impermanence of it all by meditating 11 ! hours a day from 4 a.m. till 9 p.m, did not speak with anybody (noble silence), did not go outside the meditation centre (a nice camp at the feet of the Himalayan mountains), just relayed on the nice careful cures of the volunteers they manage this centre. There are many around the world, they are non sectarian, don't try to convert anybody and are very pragmatic in their message. If you are a bit curious just check or read "the art of living" by W. Hart (L'arte di vivere).
12 days were rather hard and it is strange not to speak for so long but it is necessary to keep concentrated; I liked the journey, the world inside us is as interesting as the one outside and now I hope I will be strong and keep a continuity and meditate every day a bit to go deeper.

It snowed not much higher than here, it's almost time to pack and leave, next places: Amritsar and the golden temple of the Sikh, then Rajastan and its camel fares.

Tashi Delek,

Dharma Bums


Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2004 16:32:41
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: ordinary from Dharamsala

Dear friends,

yesterday all the Hindi community celebrated their new year's eve, otherwise called "the day of light". Besides the fancy name there was in fact only lots of fireworks and noise. Since petards are espensive stuff here they make themselves happy with rudimentary and rather dangerous stuff, so there was a competition for the most noisy, ennoying one, probably that which almost made me tone deaf! All in all for us westerners was a normal day with walks around and the volunteering in the school.
Last week we managed to sell some computers to a shop for recicling spare parts, we had 13 Laptops (Dell and IBM) donated by some American corporation. The problem was that their age was not less than 6 years old, some where missing parts, no power supply of broken LCD. In all though we got 35.000 rupees, i.e. 650 € so not bad, we already purchased an oven for the lessons of how-to-cook-tibetan and some small things.
In the pictures you see some women working in the tibetan artcraft, they make really nice and warm wool carpets all the day long, then at 6 p.m. come upstairs for an hour of English lesson, what a motivation.
In the other there are some praying whels, inside there's a paper with some mantras, it's very common to see people turning them and praying and being very devoted, every temple has its own and they are everywhere, I love them.
For the next few days me and Soazig will be off line since we retreat for some Vipassana meditation, more news later on.

Be all good and have a lovely time,

Tibetan Handycraft        Praying Wheel


Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2004 17:56:45
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Mc Leod Ganj

Dear friends,

life here is already settled and it's amazing how fast time goes. Everything has now a kind of routine with the English lessons and some general help to the Tbetans two/three hours a day, in between I'm following two hours a day lessons about buddhist philosophy given by a monk who never moves from the same lotus position and I start to think he lost the use of his legs! This weekend came the big feast for the Tibetans and we saw the dalai lama twice, first in the morning prayer, from 6 a.m. to 9 a,m, all the westerners gathered to see the Tibetan monks and civilians chanting their spiritual songs, it was hard but quite an experience. Today as well there was a feast for the young tibetan children, with modern and traditional songs, lots of colours and happiness and a good organization. The Dalai Lama gave his blessing and everybody was happy, he's a simple person, in Italian I would call him an "arzillo vecchietto", noteworthy the work he's doing and the pressures ! sometimes he has to withstand.
Second photo is the first of a series called "garbage of India". Amazing the amount of rubbish they trow away, everything from paper to plastic goes beside the streets or in the woods or burned. There are no special places for collecting garbage and recicling is just starting, luckily they do not produce much of it, but it's not a good show nor a positive sign.

A good new week to all

tashi delek,

Cow       Dalai Lama

Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 10:32:09
From: Matteo Trisoglio
Subject: Mc Leod Ganj

Dear friends,
today's Sunday and it's holiday also here.We arrived in Delhi, a mega mess with 10 million people, cars everywere and pollution that not even in a European big city you can find alike. So better to go in the more quiet mountain were the tibetan are and get used to the new life slowly. Here it's a little but very efficient community of exiled tibetan mixed with Indian they look for opportunity to earn something, all very funny and nice. We found a sunny house and already started volunteering but I don't know if my task will stay the same, for the moment I taught some basic english and played with children whose parents are working making carpets, cool, I'm about to learn the "girotondo" in tibetan...
If I'm lucky next Sunday there's a puublic speech of the Dalai Lama, hope I can get in because all the monks comes first and the space is not much. I discovered that cultural differences are not so many as believed, basic needs are the same, all is simply covered by a great poorness (of money) and highlighted by a simple friendly attitude.
I gotta go, more news later, I hope I will be able to tell some stories better and to give an idea of the colours, smells and faces.
Be all good,