The River Ganges, India (1st Nov 2007)
After a couple of hours our bus began a slow bumpy ride through what seemed like a deserted town before pulling up at a Cliffside, and at the bottom there were our boats. A full support crew were on hand to load our bags and help us onto the boat and under the sun-shelter. There were three boats, each carrying four of us along with a kitchen boat to prepare all our meals. Not long after we boarded the boat the crew were ready to set sail and soon had us skating down the River Ganges, passing small village communities and giving us an opportunity to view the river life as it went on around us. Just as Mark dropped off to sleep (10 minutes) we found ourselves grouped together to experience the lunch the kitchen boat had prepared. Although we had been promised the best food we would experience on the trip it wasn't quite as we expected and so had mainly quite bland potatoes and rice, and a little salad for dinner. As the journey continued it was a perfect opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep and just enjoy the peace and calm. We thought some of the group were joking when they said they could see dolphins in the river but no sooner had we stopped laughing we saw them for ourselves, not quite emerging totally from the water but jumping enough for us to distinguish what they were. How anything, yet alone a family of dolphins could live in that river is truly amazing! The afternoon progressed and we soon found ourselves pulling up onto a river bank, which resembled no man's land, to be told that this would be our home for the night. As the sun set around us the crew erected tents for us all and the reality of what we were doing really sank in....we were setting up camp to spend the night sleeping on the banks of the River Ganges. When we first set out planning our trip it didn't seem likely we would be doing anything like it. After a dinner much the same as lunch we all sat together and chatted and watched the night sky scattered with starts almost as far as the eyes could see. In the distance we could hear a service at a temple nearby which continued into the night as we crawled into our tent and snuggled together and fell asleep.
We were woken at 05:30am to set sail again and experience the sunrise from the boats on the River Ganges which in reality was slightly disappointing as there was a lot of haze and the true colours couldn't really shine through because of heavy cloud coverage. The day continued much the same as the day before, napping and eating on the boat only this time we had a bit of entertainment in the form of Mark and Phillip taking over from our crew and rowing us down the River Ganges in an attempt to catch up with Emily who had overtaken us with her impressive effort at rowing! Mark has the blisters to prove how hard he was working and it really made him appreciate how much our crew were doing, not only in rowing but in doing it in blistering heat! At noon we headed to the river banks at Chunar and said bye to the boats and the crew. The next leg of the journey was a 2 hour car journey (which ended up only taking one hour thankfully) to our hotel in Varanassi where we practically ran for the shower as after 2 days without a proper wash we were in need of a LOT of cleaning!