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India on a shoestring – Part 3

Monday 7th April

This morning saw us rise before the damn sun again! I thought I was travelling to get away from my alarm clock but it appears not!

4.30am the alarm went off, we left at 5am to catch the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We were first in the queue and some of the first people into the Taj that morning, that enabled everyone to get some good clear shots. This time I decided to not really take any photos as I already have hundreds this gave me time to watch and appreciate rather than snapping away!
We had a couple of hours at the Taj then headed back to the hotel for a rest. At lunchtime we all headed next door to Pizza Hut which was relatively normal until we had paid and then all the waiters stood in a line and performed some kind of dance number to an old 90s song called ‘Doop’. I haven’t worked out if they do this every time someone pays or just because we were a group of 6 western women they were trying to impress!

At 3pm we headed to the Red Fort and wandered around getting cooked in the afternoon heat.

At 6pm we left for the train station to catch our overnight train to Varanasi. We were supposed to reach Varanasi between 5 and 6am so Ankur said he would wake us up 15 minutes before we arrive.

So imagine the panic when I wake up, everyone else is asleep including Ankur and when I check the time its 7am! An indian lady in the bed opposite asked me where we were getting off the train, when I told her she asked where my tour guide was….I am thinking shit we have passed Varanasi and are now in Calcutta! On the upside I had wanted to visit Calcutta but wasn’t sure the rest of the group was so positive about this potential detour!

Luckily it turned out the train had been delayed overnight and we rocked into Varanasi about 7.45am!

Tuesday 8th April

After our slightly late arrival into Varanasi we hit the hotel, slept for a few hours, had lunch and then at 2pm we went out for a tuktuk sightseeing tour. We saw several temples, the mother earth temple, a Durga temple, a monkey temple and a temple dedicated to cows in the University campus!

The mother Earth temple was a simple affair, basically a square building with a huge map of the world on the floor. Not massively riveting but still its ticked off the list.

Then we wandered around the red Durga temple, would love to have taken photos but it’s not allowed inside most temples. Your not really missing much…flies, walking around barefoot on filthy wet floors, fire, people praying and statues.

The monkey temple was a different kettle of fish (well temple of monkeys really!), it was heaving with people, flies everywhere, monkeys strolling around looking menacing! I actually felt my blog title of Temple Run was justified for once! Could have run around being chased by monkeys easily!

The university was amazing, huge campus and the temple was pretty amazing. We didn’t stay too long in the end as it was roasting hot and everyone was shattered.

We headed back to the hotel and then headed to the Ghats alongside the Ganges, we jumped in a boat and spent an hour on the water watching the sunset and then the evening Puja or prayers. Pretty cool and something I have always wanted to see, so another thing ticked off the list! Yay

Wednesday 9th April

Again, another early start so we could watch the sunrise over the Ganges. We went back to the ghats and jumped in the boat, rowed over to the cremation ghat where there were 3 cremations taking place. It runs 24/7 and can have up to 10 going at once!

The sunrise was amazing and bathed the Ganges and ghats in an orange glow which lent itself to the spiritual ambience! We then went to a cool cafe for breakfast, pancakes and hot chocolate – bang on! The afternoon was free, Zoe and I headed down to the ghats again and just wandered along taking it all in…the kids playing cricket, the cows, water buffalo, people bathing, people washing clothes, dogs playing and the Ganges flowing.

We decided to look for a river front bar so we could get a drink. We wandered up some stairs and into a ropey looking place Zoe thought was a bar….she was asking if we could buy a drink, the guy looked confused. I looked round and noticed 2 cows chilling in the ‘bar’ and a donation box. I said to Zoe ‘mate this is a temple’, she said ‘isn’t it a bar, look there are plastic chairs’, to which I replied ‘yes but there are also cows and a donation box’! Amazingly she replied ‘yeah I saw the cows but thought they might be part of the theme of the bar’! Oh how we laughed!

Anyway we eventually found a bar minus the cows and had a quick drink before heading back and having a group dinner in a tibetan rooftop restaurant.

Thursday 10th April

Two words……Lie in!

We all met up at lunchtime, grabbed some food before taking tuktuks 45 mins out of Varansi to Sarnath. It’s a Buddhist area containing buddha statues, stoupas, museums and temples. We wandered around for a couple of hours taking it all in. Again it was bloody hot and there was a rotting dog in the grounds which was assaulting our noses so we didn’t hang around for meditation!

Once back at the hotel we grabbed our bags and headed for the last overnight train to Delhi.

We played a game of Scrabble, which I must point out I won! Of course! Lol

Then Krissy made party hats out of newspaper and we collared a poor man in our carriage to wear one and have pics with us! He was a good sport!

Spent the night sharing my bunk with a load of small cockroaches, so dug out my silk sleeping bag liner, wrapped myself up like a mummy in it, put on some tunes to drown out their clicking feet and tried to sleep! Fun times!

Friday 11th

Arrived in Delhi at 7.30am, all the cockroaches had disappeared what had appeared in their place were massive bags under my eyes! Got hardly any sleep as all I could see were the little shits running across the floor of the train and running up the wall next to my head! Aaaaaarrggghhh!

So upon arrival at the hotel we all crashed out for a few hours. We met at 3pm and hit the shops. I took the girls to an emporium I love shopping in, the journey was entertaining as all 5 of us hopped in one tuktuk, bit of a squeeze! 3 in the back, Kirsty on their laps and I sat next to the driver, it was his lucky day!

After shopping we tried to hail a tuktuk, we jumped in 2 as they wouldn’t take us all in one. The drivers then said they were taking us to shops, when we said one kicked us out the other said ok no shops and then asked if we wanted more shops!

So we got out of both tuktuks and tried to hail another, the tuktuk driver we had told to poke it was interfering and being a pain in the arse. We ended up verbally abusing him and telling him we would find any other mode of transport but his tuktuk! Eventually we found an electric tuktuk which looks much like a golf cart and we all jumped in that, giving the tuktuk man the finger on the way past!

We had our final meal then hit the rooftop of the hotel for cards and rum! We went to bed at 3am, Zoe rather worse for wear! Lol

Saturday 12th April

The tour had officially finished this morning but we all stayed together as a group. We changed hotels and then split up into 2 smaller groups. Zoe, Kirsty and I headed to Connaught Place for a bit of shopping. We met the rest of the group, had some thai food then headed back to the hotel as Miriam and Anna were leaving for the airport.

Said goodbye and then we were 4! 😞

Sunday 13th April

Up at 7am for breakfast as Zoe and Kirsty were flying out, Zoe to Thailand for another adventure and Kirsty to Goa for a couple of chilled weeks. At 8.30am they left in a cab, my 5 weeks with Zoe at an end 😞
Krissy moved into my room and we facetimed and skype all afternoon then went out in the evening for a meal with Ankur. We went to a restaurant called BBQ Nation at Connaught Place, hilarious! As soon as we arrived we sat at a table and a man appeared with a tray of tequila slammers and a whistle! When in Rome! Lol
Had dinner and decided on a spontaneous road trip with Krissy and Ankur to Rishikesh for 2 days. Loving spontaneity!

Monday 14th

Krissy and I left the hotel and jumped on the metro over to Dwarka to meet Ankur. He picked us up and we got on the road to Rishikesh. It must have been the worlds slowest car journey……10 hours to do 250km! The roads were terrible, we crawled through small towns behind cows, buffalo carts, bicycles, mopeds. We got stuck in a traffic jam behind an overturned lorry containing loads of sugar cane!

We stopped at Haridwar on route to watch evening Puja (prayers) at the Ganges river, it was pretty cool and will definitely head back to Haridwar when in India next!

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We then pulled into the outskirts of Rishikesh to be met by 6 wedding processions with horses, silver gilded huge carts, dancing, people, fireworks in the road!

Fun to watch but slow going!

Eventually we reached the hotel, checked in and then took an evening stroll down to the Ganges, we walked over the suspension bridge and had dinner overlooking the river.

Tuesday 15th April

Had breakfast at 10am then wandered down to a german bakery perched above the Ganges. We then just wandered and chilled at another cafe on the Ganges. We then decided spontaneously to go for a swim in the ganges! Fully clothed! Well why the heck not! Krissy and I went in donning our clothes, much to the amusement of the locals! Ankur stripped to his pants and took a dip! It’s the holiest river and cleanses your soul if you take a proper dip under the water! It was immense….the sun was shining, the sky blue and we are fully clothed in the freezing ganges!

We did, however, have a job to do! Ankur needed to collect a bottle of Ganges water for his dad! In india if people are ill they believe drinking the ganges water will cure them! His dad has a kidney infection and thinks downing 5 litres of river water is his salvation! Fair enough….we filled the bottle in a team effort/ceremony! Lol

After our dip we wandered back to the hotel wet and cold and got changed quickly before jumping in the car and dashing over to the other side of Rishikesh to watch the evening Puja at the Hanuman temple on the banks of the Ganges. There used to be a huge sitting Shiva statue there but it got swept away last year in the floods!

After the Puja we wandered up to a cafe for dinner which overlooked Rishikesh, beautiful evening.

Wednesday 16th

Early start as we needed to get back to Delhi for Krissy’s flight at 3pm. We left the hotel at 5am and hit the road. We stopped off in Haridwar briefly to watch sunrise and take pics of the Shiva statue, we then had a chai break, a McDonald’s breakfast break and a lime soda break during the road trip home! Again poor roads, mental traffic and trance music through the speakers! Immense!

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We reached Delhi airport at 1ish I think and said goodbye to Krissy who headed to Nepal. Ankur and I then ended up in a bar during happy hour! 6pm we left and headed to a hotel in Dwarka for rum, cards and my first ever cricket match! Well on tv…I have watched a total amount of about 5 seconds of cricket in my 34 years and find it almost as boring as golf! Still Indian Premier League was on and Ankur proceeded to teach me everything he knows about cricket! Apparently once I understand it, its addictive! I doubt that!

Thursday 17th April

Today…. Had lie in, breakfast and then a good sort of my bag and clothes. Did some washing, watched cheesy films, read emails and typed out all of this! Lol
Got a few more days in Delhi and then I will head to Goa to meet Kirsty for a chill out week.

Hope you are all well and still enjoying my words and pics!

Life is still as random, fun and spontaneous as normal!

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