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!!
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!!!!
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!