“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes….”

CategoryIndia

Beer and cake for breakfast!

By Andrew

Flying away from Kathmandu, the whole team is a little sad at our big trip is coming to an end (and we’ll soon be back to work). We spent our final meal reminiscing about our favourite moments from the past month (which I’II summarise for simplicities sake);
– Andrew swimming with his passport
– Climbing the many steps to the top of Panchasse to watch the sunrise
– Matt paragliding above Pokhara
– Andrew hanging onto the back of a jeep while it bounced through Chitwan National Park
– Our overnight train ride with some birthday cake in between
– Hanging with our Intrepid group, all great people
– Punch Monk, the best/worst game you could play in Nepal 😛
– Masala Chia/ Chi tea available EVERYWHERE
– Where’s my button? Worst game ever for one reason: On the tip off unicorns horn in the centre of the Earth.
– Not loosing any of the Cricket series against India! (except our informal game against the locals)
And many more which we’ll save for in person.

Now we just have a two more flights towards home, making pit stops in Delhi and Kuala Lumpur for a few hours or more. We won’t be running around to much though, it’ll be spent relaxing; watching Bollywood movies and getting manicured, pedicured and everything in between.

LATER:
Due to a lack of lockers for our luggage at delhi we’ve set up shop in one of the cafes, Phillipa dutifully watching the Aussies pummel the Indians at the Gabba. Sadly this means no Bollywood for us 🙁
For now though, we wait for another seven hours until our next flight to KL. Anybody got some cards?

Sailing on waters of tranquility!!!

By Victoria

Driving over broken cobbled stones, we hustled our way to the calm waters of the Ganges with the soft waves pushing the green sailing boats closer to our reach. Clambering down a small cliff to the banks, we shuffled off our sandals to be welcomed in a warm hug of blankets and pillows and the golden sun shining on our faces!! As swift hands hoisted the green sail cloth in the crisp air, we ventured off into the river, the sand banks and FWD bus waving us goodbye!!!

With our feet touching the cool water, we lay down amongst the tartan blankets as sand banks, goat herds and little children waved us past until a toilet break or lunch brought us together to shore!! With only room for the rowers, four passengers and backpacks, there was no place for bathroom facilities!! Going to the toilet was as easy as signalling towards the bank, digging a small hole if need be and squatting down out of view!! Our first toilet break of course was rather out of place in fact it was in the wide open!!! It was a perfect patch of sand dunes, where anybody could be seen even if they tried to hide!! So us girls utilise some initiative and used the blankets to obscure ourselves from view of the other sailing boats!! Ahhhh……such a relief!!

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As river dolphins splashed in the water and ibis’ glided over the surface the peaceful paradise left a dreamy haze over us all until we arrived on the platform of sand dunes which was to be our camping home for the night!!! With Phil and Matt snapping photos at the gorgeous red sunset over the incoming fog the chilled night set in and we huddled around a small citronella candle!!! Playing a game introduced by Scott, “Where is my button?” we yelled out locational questions to figure out where exactly was the button once someone had thrown it!!! Scotts button was on the tip of a unicorns horn in the core of the earth and with only 20 questions who would have guessed!!! Diving into our delicious dinner of pasta, hot potato chips, spicy cabbage, banana custard and pomegranate seeds!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………heavenly!!!

From the green sailing boats past the mustard seed growing past we entered the chaos of the back streets of Varanasi with honking horns and swishing cars, auto took-tooks, bicycles, pedestrians and cows!!! It wasn’t all chaos though as the university village we entered with ordered lanes and smiling students strolling down the road gave us some hope of the peaceful side of Varanasi!!!! Once rested we wandered down the Ghats (steps into the water) we were meet with the spectacular beauty of the city facing a mighty river and sand dunes with no building in sight!! As little children sold candles in little wooden baskets ladder with flowers we ventured into the maze of intricate alleys where cows wandered down, little shop keepers sold packets of chips, tourists clicked thousands of photos of doors which opened around our knees and temples of orange statues of Shiva dabbled in flower necklaces!!! As our tour guide said India is the Italy of Asia, well Varanasi is the Venice of Asia!!!! Ahhhhhhh…..utterly indescribable!!!!

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After rowing across the tranquil waters of the Gandji on small took-took boat we scuffled into the jumbling market to find some magnificent cotton shirts and sari’s which ended up as a 3 hours sitting down on comfy cushions and admiring the majestic patterns and fabrics draped across our legs!!! After careful thought and consideration plus two chai’s the boys of whom were the main buyers selected their shirts, specific cuts, sizes, colours and fabrics and paid the money needed to tailor the shirts!!! With a short break for lunch, Phil and I jumped into sari shopping with our mind on the prices, colour and fabric we finished all our delegating in 20 minutes with extra time for bangle shopping!!! Perfect timing!!!

Lighting candles and making a wish we said goodbye to Varanasi, the chaotic streets which so welcomed us and protected us!!! And now as we bump along the highway to Lumbini, Nepal with the Bollywood music blaring it’s time to Bollywood!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rafting, cooking classes and sleeper trains

Running late for the Hindu sunset ceremony we completely missed it, not realising that it only lasted for 10-15 minutes. Narji our guide however generously spent an hour talking about some of the 3000ish Hindu gods, helping us to try and understand what the colourful Hindu idols represented. All of the gods had dramatic stories associated with them and some life lessons. I really enjoy taking the time to gain a deeper understanding of why people hold certain beliefs and even on this very preliminary venture into Hinduism I see now how the stories (some perhaps 4000 years old) hold similar messages to those I have grown up with in the Bible.

Dinner was lots of fun with our fellow group members, revitalising the age old debate – ninjas versus pirates, and also a 50 rupee wager on whether the Hindu and Nazi swastika were the same or different. The final verdict was the the Hindu swastika can be either clockwise or anticlockwise, so it in fact can be the same or different. Many of us had been informed over the years that it was the opposite direction to that of the Nazi swatsticer, however apparently this is not the case, much to Andrew’s disappointment (it was his 50 rupee).

Yesterday we started the day with some “white” water rafting. There was some white water, however the rapids never were any more challenging than grade two, so this was more like a scenic cruise down the river. It allowed us to see the surrounding countryside, palaces and temples for a different perspective. We had a great time getting saturated and bouncing around in the boat. We reached an area where one of the kings had created a dam wall which made a nice swimming area, a couple of the guys took the opportunity to have a swim, we were pretty drenched already. Following chai and a snack we headed back to the hotel to dry off and for a long lunch (to celebrate our fellow group members birthday).

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In the afternoon we headed off to a cooking class for India vegetarian cuisine, meeting up with another group going the opposite direction to us. The hostess was a lovely lady who made it all look so easy. I have my eyes open for an India spice box now. The onlookers were nervous watching little children dance around while their mother was cooking with hot oil. It makes you realise how safety/health messages have become so engrained in our culture.

Following the cooking class we took a late night auto rickshaw ride to the train station. It was freezing! We had some relief from the cold wind blowing through the rickshaw when we stopped at a level crossing for 15 minutes for a train that finally did pass us by.

The overnight sleeper train rocked me to sleep like a baby, though I had a far more spacious top bunk with only a single bed below, compared to the others like Andy three levels of bunks! It was probably the best night sleep I have had in a week, however it was rudely interrupted when we had to wake up at 6.30am to depart the train.

I now find myself on a bus driving to the launching point of our sailing trip along India’s most holy river the Ganges. We have made one crossing, up stream from where we will be setting off, here three tributaries enter the Ganges. From the bridge we looked down to thousands of colourful tents, where pilgrims had come to wash in their holy river.

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“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes….”

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