Think I have updated my blog a week ago but it really feels longer as I have been to so many places!!
So my last couple of days in Pokhara were very chilled - I managed to get my camera fixed (:0) in the local market and spent these last couple of days with a group of French people met in a camera shop (??!!). Found the biggest coackroach in the history of coackroaches floating in a glass next to my bed I had to take a picture of it.
On Thursday I left for a 6AM bus to Lumbini and there started the nightmare journey. The "tourist" bus that we took (more like a local bus filled with tourists) had broken windows and the driver was just absolutely mental I thought I was going to be sick. Arrived in Bairahawa the drivers just leaves us on the bus park telling us we have to make our own way to Lumbini, and goes (??!!). Most of the other passengers are going to the border, but fortunately a canadian guy is also going to Lumbini and so we walk accross town trying to find the bus. Here we are - a 25 sits bus filled with about 100 people (no joke). I am on the first sit by the door and the women put their kids on me (needless to say they didn't ask me anything) - so here I am with a kid on my shoulders and 2 on my laps. Bairahawa-Lumbini is only about 20k apart but it took us 2.5 hours to get there - the bus is so full and it sarts to fall on its left (??!!), kids cry it's complete chaos. Arrived in Lumbini the drivers throws my & Ryan's stuff out of the bus like if it was rubbish - and after the bus had gone I realise that my phone (phone number 2 by the way) had probably fallen off my pocket on the bus.....
Anyway we are in Lumbini - which is basically just the buddhist park. So we stay in a little mud hut village nearby with 20 houses and a couple of run down hostels. All the accomodations are full due to prayer festival and the place is rammed with monks, which is pretty cool. We finally find a gross place where the guy tries to charge us $25 each for our rooms - I must have done a particular face coz the price suddenly fell to $6 per room-hahaha. At that point I am exhuasted and I have a cold and can't be bothered so just go to bed. The next day I am covered with mosquito bites (Lumbini is in the Western Tarai close to the border of India) and my cold gets worse. Managed to rent a bike (a nepali single speed fixed gear about 50 years old) and go around the buddhist park. I first went to Puja and amongst the thousands of little shaved heads spotted some of my students from KTM :) Then the sacred garden, where the buddha was born, where I meditated for a bit. There are lots of buddhists temples there representing different countries (France is even in there) - the chinese one was particularly beautiful with a massive statue of laughing buddha at the entrance. The buddhist park project has actually never really been finished and so most of it is still a work in progress. I am glad I came but the town is tiny and I could do with moving on however I am so ill that I have to stay one more night. Fortunately I met another group of french people and we spewnt the evening at the local eatery.
On Saturday I took the bus to Bairahawa to meet with Kim (with whom I was sharing a flat in KTM for a couple of days) and we crossed the border to India together. It's basically just walking accross the border and getting a couple of stamps but it felt so exciting it's defo worse doing it overland and not flying. We took a jeep to Gorakpur where a train to Varanasi was waiting for us. The Jeep left an hour after we borded (thought I was going to kill the driver) and we had to change car after 15 min because of break down. I started laughing when the driver decided to stop for diner after an hour - it took us 4 hours to do 50km or something and was starting to stress out that we were going to miss the train but all was good.
The night train was a very good experience and we met a few english people and spent the following 3 days with them in Varanasi. Fist coming out of the station we saw a couple of really harsh stuff but I really loved the city and the people were so genuine and friendly. First our guest house was lush - not luxury or anything just super good value for money, clean woth a cool rooftop restaurant where we ate most of the time. The staff was lovely (and funny but you'll have to see picutres to understand) and one of them is determined to get rid of my cough and prepares me special drinks everyday (for free by the way). I walked around quite a lot , went shopping a bit (and India is so much cheaper than Nepal it's unbelievable!!). We went for a boat trip on the ganges at sunrise and walked along the the ghats. Varanasi is the holiest place in India where people bring bodies of their relatives for cremation. I am not a big fan of corpses and things so walked around but didn't stop watching for ages. Varanasi is very atmospheric though, and even if it's really dirty it's the type of place where you'd want to hang out for a few days, drinking chai and eating chapatis and watch the town moving. On Tuesday we went to Sarnath, the place where the Buddha gave its first sermon which is one of the four key buddhist pilgrimage places (Lumbini being one of them too). Anyway that stay in Varanasi was excellent and I think I will meet with some of the guys down in Goa and Kerala around xmas/NYE time.
We all went separate ways yesterday and I am now in Agra (after a bonkers night train journey with Israelis drinking Whisky and determined to make me one of them :) and the town is just grim! ha! Rickshaw drivers don't take you where you want to go but to their "uncle shop - indian prices guaranteed" and people are not very friendly. I am glad I saw the Taj - splendid!, Agra fort and also went to the Jasma Majid (not on the top 3 things to see on any tourist guide but defo worth as it's a magic example of mugal architecture), but also glad i am leaving tomorrow!
I will be off to Jaipur and not sure where I'll stay/where I am going next. A few people from the train are hanging out in Pushkar so might be an option too.
I have been away for over a month now and when it feels weird when I think of all the things I have done - I have : learnt some nepali, taught english and meditated with monks, saw most corners of KTM, Patan and Baktapur (world heritage sites), flew over the everest, climbed the annapurna, worried for my life a couple of times, became an expert in bucket shower, went on the Ganges, saw the Fxxx Taj Mahal, slapped a couple of men for random hands on my bum, lost 2 phones, went to an astrologer, went on a safari, became an expert in random animals in bedrooms. ha!
Wanted to finish this post with an indian saying I was taught today: "no women no cry, no chapati no chai". Cracks me up!
Love from India xxx