Ourselves and a Spanish couple sat on top of each other in a tiny van. Bags resting on the roof.
I occasionally reached up to see if they where still there as we raced to border from Lumbini, Nepal, Avoiding cattle and rickshaws and playing chicken with oncoming traffic. Arriving in Sunali, touts popped up immediately, taxi sir?bus sir? Money changing sir.
We went straight to a small resteraunt for a drink and toilet break. Bathrooms typically disgusting, insects falling from the ceiling to certain death, either by drowning in the piss soaked floor. Or being gassed by the toxic fumes they descend through.
After refreshments we changed our Nepalese funds to Indian and went for the exit of Nepal. Marked 'Welcome To Nepal'.
We entered did the formalities and strolled somewhat queriedly over the border weaving through trucks and motorbikes, shit and piss.
'Hey friend Jeep?' 'very good price' Hello Rickshaw? hello!? Varanassi bus?where you going?' 'Hey?!'
Immediately over the border, touts galore, Our white pasty faces, sticking out like a lighthouse in the night, We struggled to find the Indian immigration. As we were in fact walking down a high street, but further investigation down the road unveiled 4 jovial men sitting around a table. Paper work done we said good bye to our Spanish friends and found a bus to Gorakhpur.
After 6 leg compressing hours on our 60 rupee bus we emerged in dusty dark mosquito filled Gorakhpur. We went straight to the train station to find out the story with our train. Avoiding the hundreds of people lying on the ground we qued up and were told to come back in 2hours or so to find out our bed numbers. Outside the station, I, strangely observed men selling sheets of what 1st thought was wrapping paper. But turns out they had rolls of unused packaging from kitkats snickers etc, to be used as mattresses/bed sheets by people sleepng and waiting on the station grounds.
We met a polish couple on the bus who needed train tickets So we all went to an agency beside the train station after some haggling and a very generous self appointed commission to the agent, tickets were bought and we went looking for the least disgusting eatery and had some local Thali.
Time approaching we bid farewell to our new friends with possibilities of seeing each other in Varanasi.
We sat on our bags at the platform fighting off thousands of flies, Mosquitos and weird crawley things. Soon a very long train pulled in at about 21.45, We were due to leave at 22.30, wondering if this was maybe our train, we asked the nearest man, 'no no this is not the one, it will come after this one, I am on the same one'.
Grand so, sat back down, swung at a few more flying disease bags. After 15 mins looking at the train, concerns grew, we asked a 2nd person, 'Yes yes this one hurry' Okaaaay let's ask another person 'yes yes you are in this carriage' Ok so let's get on this one Man on Train: no no you are down there, After multiple "helpful" people we got in to our 1st class cabin.
After a small killing spree of things hanging around we relaxed, As the train pulled off I kept an eye out to see the 1st guy we asked...
We arrived at Rat infested Varanasi Junction at 4.40. Rats popping out of every conceivable crack and hole around.
Weaving between people's legs, scurrying up, down, left and right!!!!!!!
The racket going here is, You get a tuktuk to your hotel, only to find they will drive all over the place bring you to a different hotel, tell you yours is full, closed, burnt down, dangerous, manager is not nice bla bla as they will get commission with the hotel they bring you to.
So to Avoid these shananagins, I went to a quiet corner of the station, creeping around the human sweets and human chocolate bars asleep on the ground. I rang our hostel with only the 4 legged rats listening to our conversation and got them to send a tuktuk for us and ask for me by name, to which they did, and to which we arrived.
After few hours sleep, we set off on a day long adventure to find Sinéad new anti malarials due to the Pokara incident.
After trying at least ten million chemists along the main St and 1 hospital pharmacy we where directed to go to Lanka just south of the assi river in Varanasi.
So after haggling with some tuktuk people. We got the right price and zipped off to Lanka. Once there we found a whole street of chemists, Jay our tuktuk man said he would wait for us no problem. Tried all the shops to no avail, we where told to try in university hospital across the road but it was getting late we would have to go through the emergency dept.
Right so...jay dropped us off at the entrance to the emergency dept. Showed us inside then went to park his tuktuk.
Hands in pockets 'don't touch anything' I thought to myself and told Sinead. People everywhere, place filthy, people coughing and moaning all over the place, Afraid I mite slip on some random bodily fluid on the floor and catch my lip on the syringe being tossed around beside me, I stood against the wall trying to defend myself from a few Mosquitos that where probably feasting on various debilitated people surrounding me and the corridors.
Sinead paid a few rupees told a doc the story, 'need this, can't take that, allergic to this and so on' Doctor just writes prescription for proguanil the one we need and tells us to go to Lanka, 'we did already and they told us to come here!?' Bout 20 mins later we had enough of the doctor who just kept prescribing everything we didn't need or want and went to the chemist in the hospital. To which the head chemist said 'no we don't have it,But you are young, and if you believe in god, you will be fine...'
'Right Jay let's go we'll try in Delhi when we get there..'
Next day, We decided to find the Ganges and have a look around. Krishna who works in the hostel, and sounds and acts alot like Eddie murphy said he'd try find the tablets for us. No shortage of touts here. The 10 min walk to the main ghat from our place at least every 15 seconds you will be asked into shops and followed down the street., Rickshaw friend, pashmina sir, tuktuk? And random crap shoved in your face for sale. We got to the ghat, wallet intact passed some cows through the randomly placed unmanned bodyscanner, and within microseconds. 'boat?' 'special price' 'you want postcard?'candle?'photo?boat?tomorrow?where you from? Some one will shake your hand then try give you a hand massage, and look for money. We then stumbled across Karolina, one of the polish girls we met in Lumbini.
When we arrived in Varanasi the water level of the Ganges had dropped alot after the monsoon the months before.
So all along the banks were big piles of sand, muck ,shite, piss,rubbish and the odd animal corpse. A leisurely stroll along the holy river will have you slipping and slidding, hanging from barriers for your life and negotiating water buffaloes getting "cleansed" in the Ganga. After while the 3 of us came across a burning ghat, which are always surrounded by touts, 'would you like to donate to the family to help pay for the wood?' 'hello sir..there is a great view of the burning from here follow me...' 'burning in Learning and Cremation is Education' There is a hospice nearby who need your help and DONATIONS.' are just a few we got, but there is more, Like 'I seen you take pictures you need to pay and apologise and so on. We had a quick look at the burning and after probably breathing in half of their beloved one we soon headed back towards the main ghat, and bumped into Demonica, the friend of karolinka, who missed her train to somewhere and we all went for dinner down an alleyway in the old town. Karolina got a horrible chicken Burger, so she squashed it into a cup and saved for a dog with loads a puppies she found earlier.
The following day we got up at the crack of dawn to do a boat trip and tour with Scott and Elizabeth an American couple from our hostel, We were on the boat and sailing away at 6am for sunrise.
All the locals where out, washing themselves, their clothes, their teeth in the Ganges, and hotels washing their linens, that's your bedsheets all in a river full off poop, piss, dead animals, dead people and the ashes of the just cremated.
As our voyage came to an end our captain told us how all the money's goes to his boss and bla bla.. give me a tip. We disembarked, dodged a few 'free massages' got offered a few boat rides and made it back to the hostel for some breakfast.
A few masala chai's later we went on a tour of the surrounding temples and the Mughal area where all the silk stuff is handmade. No cameras or shoes allowed in the temples, must me left outside where you pay to get em back.
Did see a snake in the grass at one of the temples which is supposed to be goodluck.
As part of the tour we were sat in a showroom of sarees, silk bed covers and scarfs, shown one after another after another, 'so which do you like to buy?' which colour you like? Want to see more? and so on, a few more minutes of this passed so we got up and left, Cheers to Subh Laxmi for sorting that out for us... Tried to find the lotus cafe in the afternoon but got lost near Assi ghat and spent a while talking to kids selling flowers and candles, and other people. Sinead got henna done by Gupi's wife in the afternoon, owners of the guesthouse.
We got the afternoon train to Delhi from Varanasi. Leaving at 2pm arriving 5.10am. we boarded train and found our cabin no problem this time, except we found a woman in our cabin saying it was hers, but out she went.
Got some tea and Thali along the way, Some cleaning and pesticide people burst in eagerly cleaning and squirting stuff around as I had my dinner. But I suppose at least they tried.. We where to be picked up at exit of platform one, which we eventually found and were met by a possibly happy, moustached taxi man. After being sent back and forth to different exits by the parking attendants our driver floored the gas powered van out the exit/entrance, not paying. The attendants hit the van as we zoomed by.
Driving through Delhi in the early hours, it was dark, smokey and grouped with people sleeping in doorways, on their rickshaws and other such places, gathered around the smoulderings of burning rubbish adding to the pollution. We booked Mystic Moments in pitampura area, as recommended by our Amerian friends we met in Varanasi. They had stayed here just prior to meeting us. Run by Manu and his daughter, Mystic moments was a nice place to stay. Manu a retired doctor, somewhat converted his clinic/ home into a Guesthouse. He has travelled all over India and was a great help in planning the next couple stops for us.. After checking in and paying we got into our room, killed a bunch of mosquitoes and got some sleep! Next morning at breakfast we met An English/ south Korean couple, Simon and Jayoung.
They had just left South Korea to do some travelling starting in India, and as we all shared plans, and were heading the same way we agreed to travel the next few stops across Rajasthan together.. And also the one we where currently in, Delhi.
So after breakfast, safety in Numbers we made way to the city centre. We asked the Price of a Rickshaw to the metro before we left, 20rs. After some haggling outside from 50 to 40 we eventually got the right price. When they cycled they brought us a much longer, roundabout cross crossing kind of way as to confuse us so we would have to use them again.. Once in the metro station we tried to find the ticket window. We had to pass the mounted machine guns and sandbags and go through some bodyscanners and get the tickets. Heightened Security due to Diwali Festival coming up.
Simon, a professional freelance photographer, Mosque Red fort met Daniel twigg. Diwali!! Qutub minar. Lotus temple. First time starting tuktuk Pikwik
A Free Range Cabbage originating in Ireland.