Orchha, India (29th Oct 2007) We woke up with another day of travelling ahead of us, up at 9 to travel the 4 hours by train to Orchha. This journey made Kara realise she should have packed more pairs of trousers as her sensible ones had a run in with the metal armrest and didn't come off too well. We travelled from the train station in a Tuk Tuk on roads where animals seemed to have as much right to the road as vehicles and stopped off at a very questionable looking establishment to have lunch which consisted of rice, spicy vegetables and PLENTY of naan bread as we were unsure of what the rest of the food on the table was! At lunch we were reminded that it was the next few nights that we would be staying in swiss style tents and so half expecting a load of tents erected in a field we were pleasantly surprised to find the tents were self contained units complete with fridge, tv and again a proper toilet! After settling in to our tents and getting a bit of unpacking done went for a walk to familiarise ourselves with the town which in comparison to Delhi was a breath of fresh air, even though the journey here had been filled with pollution and noise we now seemed a world away from it, our ears could rest and our eyes could actually see the sky. Orchha is situated right by a river and so we went for a walk there and on the way the locals walked with us and it became clear the elders had trained the young well as the most common phrase was something like '100 Rupees sir' or 'hello money', nothing like aiming high compared to a mere 10 Rupees asked for by the inner city kids! The sunset was pretty amazing and a lot more calming than that experienced at the Taj Mahal, mainly to do with watching it from rocks that encroached into the river. The town itself was even more old-worldly that the bazaars of Delhi, it could be that we were walking around at night but it just didn't quite feel real despite most of the stalls being generic copies of the one previously. It was just a relief to be away from city life. In the evening we decided to take advantage of our setting and a few of us gathered on the patio area outside Rachel and Phil's tent and just spent the evening chatting and getting to know each other and just having a good time in unusual and tranquil surroundings. As per usual we had another early morning start, this time we were going to the visit one of the only things that keeps this small village (9000 people) on the map, the Raj Mahal. The guide there informed us that the guy who built this was a deeply religious man, and this is reflected somewhat throughout the building which features hundreds of Hindu murals and painted ceilings all of which have been inspired by Rama, Vishnu and Krishna. The Raj is currently only half standing but still quite nice when you have a guide who can show you the best bits. The thing that was most disappointing about the Raj was the fact that the Indian Government have gone to extreme measures to try and preserve the building which takes away from its greatness; as many doorways and windows have been plastered over and closed and a lot of barriers put up to stop people going in certain areas. Moving on from the Raj we headed, again, by our faithful Tuk Tuk to a place that has been set up by the Indian Government to try and support the local area by making paper from off cuttings of clothes. As we walked through the factory it was clear to see how much this place meant to all the local tribe women who were all happily smiling and working away making a wide variety of paper products like greetings cards etc from the rag to pulp to paper to printing, and of course all this was available to purchase at the exit, just like after a ride at Alton Towers... For our evening activity we were taken to the middle of Orchha to visit Ram Raja Mandir, which was original built as palace to worship Raja as a king. When we entered all the locals were gathered around a podium at the front eagerly awaiting something, and at bang on 7pm we saw what it was. An armed guard open two huge solid doors and the crowd immediately broke out into song and were all making some kind of gesture to the person behind the doors who was dancing around with some candles. From what we saw one can only imagine that the locals were trying to absolve their sins and all offered up gifts of flowers and small bronze statues. We didn't stay long as we felt it was not really appropriate for us to stay and watch these people worship there god when it isn't anything we personally believe in or understand. To draw our evening to a close we hit a local restaurant and all opted for the pizzas done in a wood burning oven right in front of us, just as a bit of a change to Indian food. Although meat wasn't available on the pizza for Mark, we both thoroughly enjoyed them, and washed them down with a couple of huge bottles of beer. When we got home we did the same as the night before and chilled on the patio area outside the tents for a while before going to bed, and getting ready for another early start. 8am came around and it was time to get up and check that we had packed all our bags as today was the day we checked out of the tents and had to get ready for a long day(and night) ahead. The plan for today was to get taken around Orchha and the surrounding areas and see what it is really like for the millions of people in India who live, work and play in these small rural communities. We started off in a local primary school that was Government funded one of few we were to learn. We spent most of our time with the younger children looking at their school books and taking photos of them, they took a shine to our sunglasses and as the photos will prove everyone wanted their picture taken with them on. It was a nice change to be able to converse with the children and to see their personalities rather than having them round your feet on the street begging for money. One of the boys was clearly the outgoing one, another being the joker and another being the quiet one. We had a bit of fun with them by humiliating ourselves singing 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' complete with actions but it seemed to go down well so it was all worth it! We then visited a school where the children's families paid for the education and we found the children to be more unruly and less respectful than the children at the other school but then again they may have just been excited at our visit. In the evening we had the option to go to a cookery class but we opted out and instead went for a bit of a wonder around the resort itself and then relaxed and enjoyed our last few hours in Orchha before the evening fun began! Fun maybe a bit of a stretch as at 10 pm we caught the night train to Allahabad, not quite sure what to expect, we were neither relieved or disappointed to find we were sleeping in 8 man berths in an open carriage, we stayed up till gone midnight, drinking beer and chatting and no doubt labelling ourselves as the 'annoying noisy white people!!' We both found we had a surprisingly good night's sleep, despite Kara's bad dreams of people storming the train, and were woken at around 7am in Allahabad to continue our journey by bus to the River Ganges.