Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Journey Continues


We managed to change our train from the 19th to the 14th - but the train departs at 01:20am from Siliguri to Varanasi! This meant that our trek would have to be cancelled and it was time to get things sorted out for our next journey, one that I was looking forward to, even though Darjeeling is beautiful it had become a bit of a "groundhog day" sort of place and the weather had become wet and cold.

So a few bottles of water and some carry out cakes from Glenary's and we were on our way to Siliguri.  A share jeep back down the mountain was the only way, Q. How many people can you fit in a 7 seat jeep? A. 11! Well we had decided to leave about 1pm which meant we would arrive in Siliguri at 4pm ish, with 9 hours to kill in a tranisit hell hole we decided to splash the cash and get a cheap hotel room for a few and proper minging, the worst of our accommodation so far.

11:30pm and we started to make a move to the train station (NJP) on our first auto-rickshaw, was good, but a little unstable.  We arrived at the station about 12 midnight with plenty of time to spare, we sat down on the floor and invited a spanish couple to join us at a game of cards, awiting our scheduled departure of 1:20am, then came the first anouncement that our train would now leave at 1:50am, then 2:10am, then 2:35am etc. I think we finally left at 3ish -  not too bad considering I'd met a guy in Darjeeling who had a personal best of 32 hours!!

Well once again we were on the move but this time we had opted for the more luxurious 2AC carrage. A bit more room but pretty much the same as 3AC but this train was dirty! loads of cockroaches crawling on the walls and I spotted a mouse several times. I also had my first experiance of a train toilet, it is liturally a hole onto the tracks. haha.

Well a two hour delay in departure meant we were expecting to arrive in Varanasi two hours late (9pm) well it was actually more like 01:30am? don't know if the driver decided to take a de-tour or something, but we had made it and that was the main to find somewhere to sleep? Oh and how to get near some hotels.  So we grabbed a rickshaw and told him to take us to the Shanti Guest House - recommended by some mancs we'd met in Darjeeling. 

My very first impression of Varanasi was it was dirty, very dirty, I had been warned on several occasions but I honestly thought it couldn't be any worse than Kolkata, could it? Well there's a lot more dogs and cows so people don't want them to go hungry so they just throw every waste item onto the streets and then some more shit and some body fumes, and the aroma created by this practice is something that Cammell Lairds toilets on a Sunday morning can't contend with. Welcome to Varanasi.

Well we checked into our suprisingly clean, cheap, sit down toilet on-suite room and had a long deserved sleep. The next morning we had breakfast on our rooftop restaurant and and met up with the spanish couple from the train station. We then went out to have a look about and watch some burning bodies. We spent most of the day walking along the Ghats that are pretty amazing - we visited both of the burning ghats where belive it or not they burn things, usually people on huge piles of wood - anything from 60 to a maximum of 150 bodies per day 24hrs 365 days a year - and then walked back through the labrynth of streets to our hotel.

We have decide a few more days in Varanasi is enough and have organised a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges, some Yoga, relaxation and Tracey wants a massage. We are also going to try and book a bus or train to Khajuraho our next stop.

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