It's hard to believe but I have already been on the road for over a week without the chance of updating my travel blog! Today is my last day in India before heading off to Nepal tomorrow.
There is so much to say, and I don't really know where to start. Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning. It all started off rather nicely with an unexpected upgrade on the plane, which meant that I got a decent night's kip. After arriving at Delhi airport on schedule I made my way down to the taxi office. The ride to the hotel took nearly an hour and I must say that I am glad that I wasn't driving. There may be 3 lanes on the road but that doesn't mean that you can't fit 5 cars, a bus and a couple of auto rickshaws into the same space!!!
Delhi itself is rather hot, dusty and dirty. It has some amazing temples and monuments but is very hectic and someone is constantly trying to sell you something. It is quite frankly overwhelming. Went to see the famous Connaught place, the India Gate and some temples, after which I just collapsed into bed, still felling slightly jet lagged. The next day I met up with the rest of my group from Intrepid and it was nice to see that there were some other lone travellers, not just couples. We set off to see some more famous temples and then we literally threw ourselves into Delhi's heart and its spice market.
After taking an early morning train (which was delayed by 2.5 hours, so don't complain about the British rail system) we arrived in Agra were we were given a tour around the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal, which must be one of the most amazing monument on earth. Its magnitude and magnificence is hard to describe to anyone who hasn't been there to see it with their own eyes.
After Agra followed Orcha where we visited a Palace that took 22 years to build and was only used for one night, which probably makes it the most expensive 'hotel' in the world. We had a couple of nights in this little and much more quite town, a well deserved rest indeed, before taking the overnight train to Allahbad from where we caught some local transport to the Ganges. Part of the trip was a boat tour on the Ganges with overnight camping. Again, probably a once in a life time experience. And this is not just because of the mosquitoes!!! The river Ganges is apparently the most polluted river in the world but our two boats men didn't really mind and drank straight from it! Yuk!!! Apart from this little negative side it was a very special experience to sail on the holiest river in India.
Yesterday we arrived in Varanassi, just in time for Dewali, the biggest festival in India. We had a trip on the Ganges again to observe the main ceremony for the festival. Part of the tradition is to set off some floating candles down the river and have a wish for everyone you sent on its way. As there are 12 of us and each of us set off probably around 10 candles, it was a street of lights on the river and absolutely wonderful and very special indeed.
Today we visited a hand woven silk shop. The machinery is a couple of hundred years old and still produces wonderful fabrics. Tomorrow we are heading for the Nepalese border (9h journey) to Lumbini.
Sorry for not having any photos on the blog as of yet but broadband connections seem rather hard to find. Will try to upload some photos asap (only to make you all jealous of course). And just in case you were wondering, no, I'm not bored yet and so far I have been spared from the famous Delhi belly too! (Although I won't count my chickens yet...). Let me know how you're all getting on too. Ta ta for now.