Travel Journal Overview: Travels around Saranath, motorbike riding, and life in Varanasi. I was happy to be there because of the people.
Yes I was sick. In fact it was coming in hard. We bundled into Waseem’s little white car yet again, this time for a trip to Saranath, a small Buddhist Temple type town 30 minutes away. I can’t say I have ever been in a town with so many temples from around the world. Japanese, Thai, Indian and Tibetan temples all seemed to have embassy like qualities about them here. Waseem was not permitted to join us as we ventured inside, guides were not allowed. This took away from the history a bit, not that Waseem was that forthcoming anyway. But they were still enjoyable.
Again in each temple I was confronted with this blasted thing of removing shoes. More so than that at the first temple all electronic items were not allowed in, including batteries. The Japanese temple offered up a monk beating a drum and chanting over and over. While the Tibetans wanted us to stay and chat for a while. The Thai was somewhat dull so we managed to sneak into a garden ground behind it which livened things up a bit.
Our Indian temple visit was highlighted by a monk tying a piece of red string around my wrist for good luck. Then he wanted money for it… boy does that annoy me. Thankfully Waseem interjected in time and paid off the monk 10rps before I had time to rip the red string off. I made up for it by buying a set of wooden Hindu God’s from a charming street seller with a smart mouth outside. And while I still have to work out, who’s who. It’s still nice.
My throat was better by the time we got back to the hotel, unfortunately my sinus were blocked. I went in search of antibiotics. The streets were a bit more crowded than usual, but still not nearly as bad as people had made out. I found some antibiotics, and checked them over. It took three stores before I found something resembling real.
Waseem’s father, the actual hotel owner was also a silk wholesaler. So goes the story. The Italians , Bob and myself settled into an afternoon of having all manner of silk goods displayed to us. Scarf’s, sari’s, wall hangings and sheets were all laid out before us. The Italians held firm and bought nothing. I met Waseem’s father a little of the way and bought a wall hanging and a scarf. Bob on the other hand went all out and bought two sets of sheets, a couple scarf’s, and had a couple of shirts made too. While the silk was beautiful, and cheap. I think Bob’s postal charge will outweighthe rest.
I needed some ATM cash, so feeling like there would be more purchases on the way Waseem’s father asked Raja to take me on this bike. I should have guessed this was one of Raja’s first attempts at riding a bike. We fell before we even moved. Raja played vigorously with the bike. Trying his utmost to straighten the little 125 machine before I came close to getting on again.
We purred, or rather we spluttered most of the way. Toppling over at least at every stop. The most entertaining ones’ were the ones in the middle of intersections. Raja was not able to handle the weight of the bike once I was added to it. Varanasi now seemed small. We weaved through alleys, zoomed by children playing marbles on the street, we stumbled to a near fall once more. It was a a crowded city, but manageable. Except on the back of a bike with Raja. Time to head back.
Over dinner I discovered that I would have to move fast if I was to make it to Nepal. I had wanted to take the direct bus to the border, it would have saved me some time. But there was no bus for another two days, while the train left every day. Only it left at 11.30 and 12.30 at night. I night train would mean I would be in Gorakhpur early in the morning, and would make the border a little later in the morning. It was painful as Pokhara was 8 hours from the border. I could get there during daylight hours, just about. If everything went my way…
Some related links on this website that you might like: (including a lot more photographs from India)
Video: On the Ganges Ceremony