Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Sunrise on the Ganges, tree-hugging, drummer boys and how many can u fit in a jeep!

Varanasi day 2

We went down at 5.30am ready for our trip to the Ganges again. Everyone was like zombies, me and Laura were the last down as per usual (it had been a pattern the whole trip, that everyone was always waiting for us, so why not just keep it going?!). We took tuk tuks to the ghats, Varanasi is strangely quiet at 5.30am...until you get to the river!!

Even at 5.30am devout hindu’s were down at the ghats in the dark, freezing cold...washing, praying, bathing, ringing bells – all sorts – these people are nuts! We got into our boat and just rode up and down the river, watching each ghat as we floated past, and the other boats floating past, watching as it got lighter and lighter. It was an amazing experience and the most beautiful sunrise! As it got lighter the ghats got more and more crowded and it got quite noisy! There were hundreds if not thousands lined up along each step of the ghats, cleansing themselves and washing away their sins in the holy waters of the Ganges. Over the speakers the call to prayer/prayers were being sung, it was strangely beautiful, especially whilst watching the sunrise. It all provided a wonderful soundtrack.

Even once the sun had come up at 7.30am, it was still cold, so we were all glad when Yash took us to a little street shop for some amazingly sweet and warming chai! Everyone then went back to the hotel where the day was free to do what we wanted. Some decided to do some trips. But most of us went back to bed for a couple of hours to catch up on some well needed sleep.

We met with Josie, Paul and Ali at lunchtime, and wanted to go somewhere nearby as we needed to meet everyone else at 4pm, so we ended up going to the mall – which was miles better than the one in Agra – and treated ourselves to a Maccy D’s, of course!

When we all met up again, Julie and Silvia decided to do the boat trip again as it was another festival (where thousands of candles will be lit along the ganges), some decided to stay at the hotel until dinner, and the rest of us went for a walk into town (the ghats), to have a look around during daylight hours. We revisited the burning ghats, which was weird but kinda cool to see up close and in daylight and then watched as all the candles for the evening ceremony were placed along the steps of each ghat, were made to form words or pictures and were lit, before heading to a restaurant nearby overlooking the whole of the Ganges.

The plan was that it was our last proper night together, so we were all going to go out that evening. We picked a bar from the lonely planet and stopped off at the hotel before arranging tuk tuks to it, agreeing to meet Yash and the others later after their boat trip. The tuk tuks dropped us off miles from it, and we couldn’t find the one we’d picked out, so instead we went towards Hotel Surya, which is where Yash and recommended – though not before walking behind a festival procession, which had a marching band, a singer, lanterns, dancers...oh and fireworks just casually being let off right in-front of you and oncoming traffic, in the middle of a busy main you do! Only in India do you have to run past a massive lit rocket, in the middle of the road, with cars passing, fearing for your life! And on several occasions, the rockets didn’t go up – instead they just went off on the ground, exploding in your face! So after running past with our hands in our ears, screaming, we arrived at hotel surya and the bar was actually pretty nice – modern and hip for Varanasi!

And with the arrival of some very strong cocktails, the night quickly went downhill! There was drum bashing/destroying from me, tree hugging (yes there was a tree trunk in the middle of the bar), tampering with their music, telling the bar staff we couldn’t taste the alcohol in our cocktails so they’d make them stronger, (that was because we were too drunk to taste it), I ended up in a heap on the floor after spinning a little too long to ‘We found Love’, piggy-backing Yash, and then THAT car journey home!

Somehow we managed to squeeze all of us into this tiny jeep, I ended up being shoved down the little gap between the seats in the boot and the back of the car for the entire journey, which everyone else found hilarious but I didn’t! Ali was sprawled across the middle, his legs dangling across the seats in front. Laura and Paul were up front, Laura sat on the gearstick practically, and kept trying to cover the drivers eyes, asking if she could drive, meanwhile Yash was probably thinking he’d landed the worst tour group ever! When we arrived some poor drummer boy happened to walk past the hotel at the wrong time...and Julie dared me to go up and take his drums, so naturally I did, whilst jumping on him, kissing him and bashing his drums! Poor boy, Yash had to drag us away.

Then we spent a while on the rooftop – the only things I remember from here are all from photo evidence. Yash had picked up some alcohol so we continued the drinking, the rest of us were having cartwheel/handstand competitions by the looks of it, I remember doing one and instead went head over heels into a backflip, onto my back - in case you were wondering, it did bruise!

Then when it got quite late, Yash allowed us all into his room and I think we shoved on some music full blast, drank, took stupid pictures, hung out the window, and ended up putting Yash to bed around 5.30am – we even had to tuck him in and take his shoes off! I think we eventually went to bed around was a MENTAL night, and the pictures are hilarious!

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