Hello from Kathmandu!
The past week or so has been a bit hectic which is why we've not been able to do the blog. The last time we wrote we were in Rishikesh, we had a great time there (although it did rain a lot). Rishikesh is where the Beatles visited in the 60s and wrote most of the White Album, it's really new age - all yoga and OM! We stayed there for a few days, as you can see from the pictures, it was a great location, very atmospheric with the mist hanging on the mountain tops.
From Rishikesh we got the "Deluxe" bus through monday night to Delhi. It took 7 hours and they were really stretching the limits of the word deluxe. Needless to say, we got no sleep and found ourselves at Delhi airport at 5.30 a.m. - 9 hours before our flight! We eventually got to Varanasi on tuesday afternoon, courtesy of SpiceJet.
Varanasi was another great place, one of the holiest places in India for hindus. They travel for hundreds of miles on foot to bath in the Ganges. It's also a special place for them to die, on some of the many ghats they have public cremations - they carry the bodies through the streets and burn them on piles of wood. They believe that by doing this they will break the cycle of rebirth and go straight to heaven.
The Ganges is very polluted, it's even sceptic in some parts. Nevertheless we got up at 5 on thursday morning to take a pre-dawn boat ride along the ghats and watch the sunrise.
On friday we left for Kathmandu, this involved getting a train from Varanasi to Gorakphur (5 hours), a very crowded local bus from Gorakphur to the border at Sunauli (4 hours) and then another bumpy bus from Sunauli to Kathmandu (11 hours!). We ended up travelling for over 24 hours, the tyre burst on the bus to Kathmandu on a windy mountain pass, that was pretty hairy.
We joined our tour yesterday (sunday), so we've had a couple of days in Kathmandu which seems like the cleanest place on earth compared to India. It's a really interesting place with a mix of hinduism and buddhism. Tomorrow we fly to Lhasa over the Himalayas, we're very excited about that!
We had a great time in India but it's nice to have joined the tour and not have to worry about any more oraganisation (transport / accommodation etc).
Our next blog will be from Lhasa (if we get our chinese visas tonight!), after that we're not sure when we'll be able to access the internet.
Bye for now!
G & K