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Thank you Varanasi!

Boatride on the Ganges in Varanasi

Boatride on the Ganges in Varanasi

I extend a wholehearted thank you to Varanasi, for really giving us a chance to enjoy India. Along the waterfront, the only people trying to sell you things are selling boat rides and hash, and neither are particularly pushy.

Varanasi, India

We arrived off of an 8 hour sleeper train after a full day of touring Agra in the 100 degree heat. We were sweaty, exhausted, and just feeling a bit sub-human. The Irish girl in the bunk next to me in the sleeper train apparently was deathly afraid of bugs, and just her luck, this traincar had a surplus of roaches! So besides the benefits of fits of laughter I had as she screamed and her boyfriend tried to kill them, the Indian trains are something I’ll gladly leave locked in my memories, never to be experienced again.
Varanasi, India
When we arrived in Varanasi, the hostel had arranged a pickup for us, and drove us into what seemed to be the most far away place ever. The room wasn’t ready as we had arrived at 5am, so they allowed us to stay in an extra room they had for no charge. When you talk accommodations – the worst jail cell at Alcatraz might have just edged this room out, it was dark, dank, the sheets were soiled and moist, the air was stagnant and the paint peeled off the walls.  You could feel the last drops of enthusiasm draining from our sweaty little bodies as we communicated the same thought to each other with our eyes “We have to be here for 3 days…..”

Varanasi, India
So instead of wallowing in our own dejected sadness, we set off to at least walk the waterfront and see what we could of the Ganges. The walk was weird. When I say weird, I mean it was so unusual, so uncharacteristic of the experience we’d had for the past week. The sun had just risen over the horizon, it was maybe 80 degrees, there was a strong breeze off of the water. The architecture at the river front, the buildings, the steps, the paintings, it was all so large and alien to me. Since the Ganges rises significantly during monsoon season, none of the structures next to the water have windows or doors until about 60-70 feet up, so it has a strange way of making you feel very small.

Varanasi, India

Brittany and I walked hand in grubby sweaty hand as the people who would normally be accosting us for tuk tuk rides or selling sunglasses instead bathed in the river, brushed their teeth, and had their breakfast. We turned back after a while and returned to the hostel and had breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised by the food and the view from the top of the four story building.

Varanasi, India

When the owner came upstairs to the restaurant and told us our room was ready, we marched down with a feeling of inevitability much like Michael Clark Duncan in the Green Mile. When they opened the door to our new room, both our jaws dropped – it was fantastic! The bathroom wasn’t bare spartan dirty tile, the floors, the bedding, the walls were all clean. There was a sink outside the bathroom, a mini wardrobe, sitting area, and drawers. I mean, compared to the other places we’ve been staying, we were in the Taj Mahal itself.

We went downstairs to finalize our passport information and the owner gave us the best map we’ve received of the area yet. I guess receiving a good map doesn’t exactly sound like the amenity most people would be looking for below AC and an early check-in, but Brittany and I are wanderers, and a good map is crucial to our endevors.

Varanasi, India

Over the course of the next few days, we took a boat ride along the Ganges, witnessed the cremation of bodies at the burning ghats, were forced off the road by water buffalo, went to a place called Monkey Temple where interestingly enough – there were no monkeys, and just in general, relaxed more than we have in a while.

Varanasi, India

One other interesting thing to note – we have both basically become immune to the stares, except for the ones that really are exceptional – like the really old man who never broke eye contact with Brittany’s chest, which made me laugh because I now know with certainty, that no matter how old we get, guys will always dig boobies…. What, not the dignified Ganges ending you were expecting?
Varanasi, India

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  1. Adam says:

    A boat ride and hash, eh? I love the pictures! Would love to speak with you guys soon!

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