About Khajuraho… It's not that special, really. The temples we saw were definitely worth seeing, they are really well preserved and taken care of, also the area around the western group is very well maintained, and the park is a nice place to stroll around. Other than that, there wasn't that much to see. There would have been a national park nearby where one can see tigers, but we already did a similar thing in Nepal, and it would have cost a whole lot more here. Tuk tuk drivers were also trying to get us to go to some waterfall, but that didn't interest us that much either. And, saddest of all, even though this is a small town, the hawkers and sellers and drivers and such are extremely aggressive. You can't say no to them, you can't ignore them, you can't tell them to f**k off. Well, you can, and I did, but to no use what so ever.
So, what to do in a situation like this? We basically saw all we wanted to see in about five hours, that's how long it took us to walk around the nearest temples. Our train arrived at about 7 a.m. and the next was leaving the following day at 23.40. In hindsight, we could have gone through this place without actually staying a single night, if we only had a place to store our backpacks and maybe take a shower. The easiest way to do this would have been to stay where we stayed, at Yogi Lodge right next to the western temples, for 300 rupees per night. Just pay the bill, store your stuff, do whatever and leave late in the evening. Our train arrangement prevented us from doing this though, so we spent the night and paid for another night also, so we didn't have to hang around at the reception all day. We saw some people do just that, it would have been crowded with us there too. And with that extra 300 we got to sleep long, do our laundry in peace, read and relax all we wanted. I only left the room to eat at the hotel restaurant and to get some snacks from a nearby store.
Then it was go-time again. The hotel arranged for a tuk tuk to pick us up, they insisted on it so it wouldn't be a drunk driver… We paid 100 rupees for the 7 kilometer ride. We got to the train station at about 22.30 and didn't have to wait long until the train slid quietly to the platform. Khajuraho was the first station, who knew? This meant that the main body of our fellow travelers were also tourists, most of them Caucasians, which was strange since we hadn't seen any the day before. We had the upper berths in an AC3 coach again, only this time we had planned the positioning for our backpacks better than before. Sini put hers next to her legs and slept with her head facing the isle, I put mine almost entirely on the small shelf so that there was a small room for my head between that and the wall. For once we could bot sleep on a straight surface. They gave us the usual pillow and two sheets, but for some reason we were missing the blankets. It was warm enough though.
We managed to sleep well enough on the train, which arrived to Varanasi at about 12.50, two hours late. That's to be expected here though. We had looked up a guesthouse on the internet the day before and emailed them if they would have a pickup service. For the sake of the trains always being late, they didn't. We found a tourist information office on the station, real this time, and got some good information and a map of the city. About five meters after leaving that we were surrounded by rickshaw drivers offering their services. We negotiated a price of 100 rupees with a guy who knew where our guesthouse was. On the way there the driver went on and on about all the other fine hotels we were passing. All of them seemed to be in the price range of several thousand rupees per night, which was curious, since he knew he was taking us to a place that charges 350 rupees per night… Anyway, we got there easily enough. Our room turned out to be what we paid for, quite basic, but with minor drawbacks, mainly a squat toilet and straw mattresses (seriously!).
We were pretty tired after the train ride, even after we had slept some on the way. Our first day in Varanasi was spent walking around a small circle cowering the nearest ghats (steps leading to the holy Ganges) and the nearest bigger street. Sini got a new T-shirt and I bought an extension cord, because in every hotel we've been to so far they've had the power outlets high on the wall instead of near the floor as at home. Our outlet adapter is pretty bulky and won't hang properly with the laptop charger attached to it and it's prone to dropping. We've had all kinds of systems supporting them on the walls, but the last time it dropped one of the pins on the laptop charger bent a little. I fixed it, but don't want to see that happening again. Hence the 80 rupee extension cord, now the system lies on the ground.
And that's it for now. I'll see if I can get this posted over the wifi (I always write these out on Word first) and then go to sleep. Tomorrow we'll see the city more, perhaps we'll catch our first bodies floating in the river. Wouldn't that be just… Something…