India Trip - Day Eight - Ganges & Varanasi
January 24, 2008
We are woken up at 07:00 with a cup of Masala chai. It is still raining slightly so I leave it to the last minute before I get out of the tent.
Because of the rain we have breakfast on the boat this morning which consisted of porridge and toast before we headed to Varanasi.
As the day progressed the weather got better and better and by the afternoon we took the shelter off the boat and had a little sunshine.
In the early afternoon I even took a turn at rowing the boat for about ten minutes.
We had a couple of rest stops before having our final meal on the boats which consisted of all the usual stuff.
We saw another funeral today although this one was a bit differentas the people looked happy and one was playing a drum. I asked Anuj about it and he said that the drum signified thst the man was over 100 years old when he died so they are celebrating his long and happy life.
Just outside the main area of Varanasi as we approached a large pontoon bridge an old man stood above us and started shouting and pointing at the boat leaders. Apparently there is a boat strike in Varanasi because the government has increased their taxes so no oats are allowed in the twon at the moment, which is a bit disappointing as I was looking forward to arriving by boat.
So we have to pull over. After a while Anuj arranges some auto rickshaws for us.
We say goodbye to our boat crew and head for our hotel. I sit up front in a five person auto rickshaw with six of us in and hang out the door trying to get some good footage on my video camera, but being sure to hold tight incase I fly out on a sharp corner.
First impressions on the way to the hotel is that the roads are very small compared to Delhi and there are lots of animals around including a large amount of cows.
The hotel is the cleanest I have seen in town so far, which is good.
I check in and go up to my room, I am sharing the room with Iain tonight and tomorrow. So far it has been nice to have a room to myself, but at least it means I will have some company.
I have a quick shower and freshen up which feels good after a few days of camping and sailing with no fresh water and soap.
We leave with Anuj for a quick tour of Varanasi at 18:00 by cycle rickshaw. Along the way we pass a big group of striking boatmen. We get off by Godowlia and walk down some busy shopping streets until we reach the Dasaswamdh Ghat. There is a night ceremony taking place with people preying and putting flowers and candles to float down the Ganges. I even do this, but pay ten rupees for the privilege.
We walk up and down the river for a bit looking at the Ghats that are illuminated with light that give them an imposing grandeur about them.
There are lots of cows and goats about as well as a few monkeys. We meet up with Anuj at 20:00 and go back by cycle rickshaw to the hotel. Our driver was crazy as hell as as Jess and Angus on their rickshaw was in a constant race back, at a number of times they almost crashed into people, cars, cows, trucks, you name it they almost hit it!
At the hotel we have dinner, I fancied some thing other than Indian food so I went for a cheese and onion pizza (no meat is allowed in Varanasi). after what I have been eating the past week tis was great and a welcome change. I ate it so fast I burned the top of my mouth and tongue.
Soon after I went to bed, they only put one thin blanket on the bed so we ask for some more but the hotel run out so I give mine to Iain to make sure he is warm enough and I use my sleeping bag.
Throughout the night I hear mosquitoes buzzing around my ears which is very frustrating and keeps me awake. In the end I wrap the top of my sleeping bag around my head in a feeble attempt to stop them.