Hey guys..you comfy, cos I have a bit to write!
I'm currently in Kathmandu, Nepal, but need to fill you in on Varanasi, India first!
Soooo after the journey I found my hotel fine, it overlooked the Ganges and the biggeest bruning ghat. So you always smelt the smell of burning wood... :S
I spent my first day getting to know the alleys, cos the old city is like a mze, full of cow sh** and crap! The next day I set off early along the ghats and the ganges. I stopped at the burning one first, there is a hospice there where the dying wait to die. To get burned hereis considered very holy, so people from all over India get brought here. When I got there there was seven of them on the go and a lot more waiting to be done. The guy in the hospice, told me all about what goes on...if the father dies, the older son gets his head shaved and face and has to light the fire...towards the end he has to crack the skull open with bamboo to release the spirit, apparently some bones take longer to burn and I saw them lifting some burning flesh on a bone and throwing it into the Ganges. Nice! If the mother dies, its the younger son who has all that respon, regardless of age! The caste system has the untouchables at the bottom and they are respon for prepping, cleaning and burning the bodies, they even sift the water for jewerley at the end. It was quite a powerful sight to see and certainly one that will stay with me...
FACT about the Ganges...there are 1.5mllion faecal coliform bacteria per 100ml...the world safety limits for safe bathing in water is less than 500!! As you walk along the ganges and thefamous ghats, you see people washing, drinking and bathing in thew watyer. Just further along the local cows get in as well to cool off...so as you can imagine, its not eh cleanest of waters.
One ghat the high priests shave the heads of babies...again a sight to see!
It was sufficatingly hot as I walked around to the point where you kinda get dizzy cos of the heat. it must of been 90+ easy. I sat in the shade to cool off at one bit and heard a big screech behind me, next min a monkey landed on my step giving me an evil stare, I didn't stay around long enoguh to see if it calmed down, so swiflty got off!
My journey to Katmandu from Varanasi was pretty smooth, the auto riockshaw took an hour to get to the airpoirt (shed!) and then only took 35min to fly here. I chose to fly ere cos it would of took two days overland, and the two days gettin to Varnasi was enough for me!
The first thing that struck me on landing, was how clean it is here, well compared to India! My hotrel even had a btah, so I had one for the first tiem in two months after using a bucket. I'm stayin in a cool district of Kathmnadu, Thamel, full of shops, restaurants and bars, pretty cool to just chill in..I treated myself to Mexican food when I got here..and then decided to extend my stay here.I've cancelled my teaching in Mcleod (partly cos I've spent a lot of time there already and Nepal is pretty cool!) So I'm here for 7wks now...I'm doin my Everest base camp trek in a couple of days and then teach in Pokhara for 2wks and then do the Annapurna circuit trek for 2 and bit wks..its the best time to trek here, so got grab it while I can.
I've done a lot of sightseeing in Katmandu and the area aroiund it, cos I prob won't be here a lot from now...so caught Durbar square in Kathmandu and Patan, Kath is far better, some amazing sight and temple. Even saw a living god again, this time a godess. she shows here face every day at 4pm for 5 second, so good timing :) I got a guide to show me round the square, nice enough guy. We had chai togtehr and talked... Its a cool place to just watch the world go by...and check out the kama sutra carvings on the temples. (Pics to follow :)). I even caught the Everon vs Newcastle game last night, cos my hotel has it ...usual poor display again!
Today I got up ealry to get a lot fitted in...I rented taxi for the day to take me round, he waited for me while I visited the sight and then we'd move on... again a really friendly guy. The sights are in the Kathmnadu valley...so I saw two huge gompas, covered in monkeys and the other the largest in the world (pics to follow) I visited another tmeple that cremates people, its apparently more holy than one in Varanasi, its also has a lot of holy men with their face painted. Got some cool pics (after paying a fee) and even one dressed up as the Monkey god Hanuman. There is one holy man who hangs wieghts from his penis, but don't think he was up to it today :S ..another has really long hair, but travels to teach and is called the Milk Baba! There was a cremation when I arrived and what amazed me was people taking pictures of it, there was a family member who could barely walk cos of the pain, and people were taking pics...crazy tourists!
I'm gonna go to a medieval town tomoorw cos its meant to worth a visit...so have the whole day to relacx there and take it all in bnefore I leave for my trek on wednesday.
One final thing..congrats on Vic on gettin round the 10km in aid of Marie Curie...
I can't seem to upload pics or vids here...pity cos I have so many cool ones to share with you. Will see if I can find a place tomoorw to do it...
Didn't make it to medieval town, had a mad busy day tyin up loose ends, renting gear and generally running around. I start my trek early tomorrow, we have an early flight to the start point, Lukla (6am). Check out my message board for itinery.
PS I've sent a DVD of my pics so far back today, so Mum if it turns up, you can watch them on Computer or DVD (if your bored!!), the ones towards the end are the best. Please look after it tho...