Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ganges - nice place for a barbecue!

This mornings breakfast was at 8 and as I had had a good nights sleep I got out of bed and went down. However as normal with Indian timings, breakfast was late!! They told us that it would start at 8.30, so I went back upstairs and sat out in the sunshine for a while. 15 minutes later one of the staff came outside and informed us that it was ready. Back down in the basement restaurant, all the tables were against the wall and everyone had to sit with food on their laps instead of on a table. After breakfast I went back outside and sat in the sun again, reading the Hindu times until the bus was packed and we left just after 9. It was a pretty good day on the bus, looking through old photos from previous Ozbus journeys with Lana, then watching a Movie – Shutter Island, which took longer to watch than normal due to laptop batteries running out and food stops.

After lunch we finished the movie and then played a game of chicken Invaders – basically the daftest game ever where you shoot chickens, coming at you in space and dropping eggs at you., I was shite and got my arse kicked by Lana the leader. (Actually I let her win, cos its the gentlemanly thing to do.

The rest of the journey was spent with me and Bev, who was sitting behind me, staring disbelievingly out of the front window of the bus as the driver managed to get closer and closer to the oncoming trucks, bus's and cars. Every now and then I swear he actually drove directly at them, including a few cows, daring them to move out of the way before he did. Luckily we never hit anything and we arrived at our next destination of Varanisi, at just about 7pm.

After the usual search for the internet and then booking in, I grabbed a quick 20 minutes on the internet before a few of us sat down in the Hotel restaurant for dinner. I wasn’t that hungry so for the second night I had a liquid dinner! Chris did feel for me though and made me have a few mouthfuls of his chicken tikka which was lovely. We then went downstairs into the Hotel bar, where me and Liv had a good chat about life the universe, mirroring and picking up women!! Haahaa. It was a good chat and we all had a good fun time. I then went off to bed after having a laugh looking through the photos of everyone in their passports.

This morning we all got up at 4.45 and after a quick shower I headed outside to get onto the bus at 5.15. Today promises to be a strange one. We are visiting the Ganges and particularly the area where people come from all over the world to swim and cleanse themselves in the water. It was a surreal experience as we walked down towards the river through one of the dirtiest and smelliest places on earth. There were people everywhere, some selling trinkets, others getting on with their days, whilst a lot were making their pilgrimage to the river. There were animals everywhere, cows, bulls, lots of wild angry dogs and monkeys too. However, even with all this going on, we were left pretty much to do what we wanted and took photos and looked at the chaos around us.

We all boarded our boat and the two rowers started off up the river against the tide. It was an experience that none of us will forget in a hurry. The sunrise over the river was spectacular and that combined with the river and the people made it a great way to start another day. Watching the pilgrims, douse themselves in the river was just unbelievable – especially when we got towards the end of the boat trip and saw what else happens here..... Families bring their dead here and give them open cremation on the banks of the river. We stopped the boat and walked through ash and wood that had been used the previous evening, past one dead body all wrapped up and ready to be put atop the fire later today. At one point we had to stand right next to it while we waited for people to pass and you could see distinctly the white skin of her toes through the cloth. As well as the cremations, there were a number of 'things unknown', floating down the river, but as they were quite far from us, we could not see clearly what they were – but we all knew that they were dead bodies.

Back on shore, we walked through an even dirtier and unreal place than we had done on the way to the river. Frankie, with her leg still in a cast, unfortunately stepped in something rather nasty, so had to clean her cast when she got back to the hotel later. I have never imagined a place with small tight alleyways, dirt, shit, fires, animals, and so many people all trying to get through on motorbikes, cows eating and immaculately dressed kids on their way to school. Its one of those places that you do not want to go to but having been there once, I think I would go back sometime to confirm the things that we all saw.

After the trip we headed back on the bus for breakfast in the Hotel.

Breakfast was pretty good, but there was a rather strange atmosphere as nobody really talked much about the morning. After wandering around town for an hour to find a working cash-point I headed back to the Hotel and joined in the next trip out, which was to visit a Buddhist temple and gardens/excavations of the location where Buddha himself. It wasn’t the greatest of trips out, but the gardens were really nice to look at and we all enjoyed a relaxed couple of hours out, interspersed with ice creams and cold water. It was a nice way to break up the day and just after lunch we got back to the Hotel for a rest.

Some of the group had headed back into town to look around again, but I wanted to go to bed for a siesta and as Kenneth was off out to do a bit of shopping, I thought I would definitely catch up on a couple of hours sleep, but after lying down in the dark and trying to sleep over the noise of the air-con, I gave up and headed downstairs to the Hotel Lobby, where Vicky, Isabella, Barry and Chris were sitting around chatting and updating blogs etc. There was a queue for the 3 internet connections, so we waited around till we had a chance to get online.

Tonight we are thinking of going back down to the river to see the funeral fires, but we are as yet undecided as to whether we really want to see what goes on there or not.

We will probably make a decision later, but none of that really matters, because at 7am tomorrow we leave Varanisi (Very nasty) and head North to the border with Nepal, where we will spend the next 10 days or so. Everyone has experienced India – It is a fascinating place which sometimes amazes you, sometimes it disgusts you and sometimes leaves you breathless. We tried to think of one word that would describe it better than the adverts claiming 'Incredible India'. But when we thought about it, the word 'Incredible', I perfect.:-

Its incredibly, interesting, dirty, cheap, loud, smelly, beautiful, friendly, hot, dry, unbelievable. Its one of those places that you can never forget and sometime in the future, I may come back for a visit, but apart from 3 days travel to Calcutta to get the plane to Bangkok after our Nepal visit, that is India done and in the bag.


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