We left Khajuraho for our long journey to Varanassi. Disaster struck immediately as we left our hotel to head to the bus station. Me and Lauren both piled into an old rickety cycle rickshaw complete with our big rucksacks. There was hardly any space and we were both perched on to the seat. The driver picked up a bit too much speed then made a sharp turn throwing Lauren from the rickshaw, bags and shoes flying through the air! Luckily she only sustained some minor cuts and one major bruise on her bum. It could have been a lot worse! The driver got a telling off from some of the locals. We still had to pay him though! Typical. We had spent the previous day worrying for our safety on motor bikes.... when its the cycle rickshaws you really have to look out for!
Anyway a long long cramped, sweaty bus journey later we were back in Jhansi where we got the overnight train to Varanasi. This was strange. The beds were three tier and everyone was pretty much in together. There were 6 people in our little compartment but a corridor went down the middle through them all. I did manage to get some sleep but was very relieved to get off the train at the other end.
We were taken to our hotel and after freshening up took a short tour round Varanasi. We visited the Mother India Temple, a sari factory then on to the crematorium. I should really mention here that Varanasi is a place where many people come to live their final days. It is very religious and people also come to abthe in the Ganges. The Ganga River, part of the Ganges, runs through Varansi and they all want to be cremated here. Being taken to the crematorium I really didn't know what to expect. However, when we arrived it was completely different to what I imagined. There were about 4 or 5 fires on the shore of the Ganges when we arrived where people were at different stages of being cremated. This process takes about 3 hours and the families and friends stay throughout this time. It really wasn't as upsetting as I thought it would be to see. It was actually very peaceful. I thought it would smell of burning but it really didn't smell at all. The man who talked to us about it says its one of the mysteries of the Ganges. Also when the heavy rains come it never puts out the fires. We were asked for a donation. At that time we only able to give R150s so perhaps we have helped cremate someones toe!
We took a walk further along the river and saw part of a festival. There was music and some dancing and it all seemed very spiritual.
Unfortunately I became rather sick overnight, my first case of Delhi Belly. Guess I had to expect it at some point! Anyway it didn't come at the best of times. After being up sick all night I then had to get up at 5am for our boat trip on the Ganges. We were to go and see the sun rise on the Ganges which I previously thought was a great idea. However the thought of going on any boat that morning was not good. We got to the bank of the river and I asked the guide whether it would be ok to be sick in the Ganges. He laughed....but it was a serious question! I didn't want to offend anyone! I knew fine well if I stepped foot on that boat I was going to be sick....Sure enough I was. Oh dear. Hope none of the bathers saw.
That wasn't the best day for me. Took things a bit easier. We did go to see 'Om Shanti Om' at a nearby cinema and it was really good. Its one of the latest Bollywood films to be released and has been a big hit. It was very dramatic but the music and dancing was really good. I loved it.
The following day much to my delight I was feeling much better. Just as well because we were about to emabrk on a 28 hour train journey to Mumbai.