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One Year of Sundays

India to Nepal

NEPAL | Friday, 16 January 2009 | Views [581]

16th January

Hello!

We now find ourselves in lovely warm Pokhara, Nepal surrounded by the snowy caped Annapurna mountain range set around a beautiful lake. It’s quiet, laid back and picture perfect, but first we must digress with an extended whinge.

On leaving Goa we headed to Delhi where we spent an uneventful Christmas day and jumped on a train to Varanasi which is a very holy, very old, and very very Indian city. We both promptly came down with the flu and a lovely stomach bacteria which produced projectiles from Silvana’s mouth and from my... you get the idea. We were basically room bound for 4 days or so which wouldn’t have been that bad except the smoke from the cremation Ghat was wafting straight up and in our window. We took some nasty antibiotics and recovered our strength to begin our trip to Nepal a few days later than planned. This was the beginning of a fateful trip. The train was 7 hours late so we arrived at a travel junction (shitty gross town that no one stays at) at 2am found a gross shitty cold room in which we slept a crappy 4hrs, then jumped on a bus to the Nepal boarder at 7am in the morning, passed immigration where we then jumped on a bus for Kathmandu at 11:30am thinking we were finally kicking ass in the good luck department. Unfortunately all the roads in Nepal are only two lanes and when there are accidents (a daily occurrence) there are delays. So our 7 hour trip turned into a 15 hour nightmare when the bus decided to take a 4WD track detour into Kathmandu to avoid an accident. About ½ hour into it a car somewhere in front, rolled, went off a cliff or got bogged (depending on who you talk too). End of the story is we spent 4-5 hours in the freezing wilderness waiting for the traffic to move. We arrived in Kathmandu at 2am which is unfortunate as everything shuts down at 10pm and by shut down we mean big gates padlocked so another ½ hour banging and calling out to get someone to let us in our hotel.  To top it off I managed to lose my iPod. End whinge and by the way, we are flying back to India!

 It was a real shame we were sick in Varanasi because there is no other place like it. It is centred on the Ganges and there is so much happening. You can just sit on the Ghats (stairs that lead to the river and stretch for a few Km’s) and watch for hours. Hindus believe bathing here washes away bad Karma and if you are cremated here you are released from the cycle of reincarnation. Unfortunately it is so polluted in this stretch that the water is anaerobic and it also has a faecal content 1000 times the recommended level but try to tell that to the thousands of people we saw bathing, brushing their teeth and washing their food in it (which an old man then kindly offered to us, see photos).

 If only we could post video here we could show you one of the highlights of our trip so far. A Sadu (holy men that have renounced possessions and live a spiritual life off the charity of others) was among a large crowd that were yelling and shouting. We went over to look and saw he had a rope tied from his penis that went between his legs and was tied to the front of a car that he was pulling down the road toward us! There were TV cameras there and they interviewed him, people we going wild, it was amazing. Oh and there was a family in the car as well!!!

We spent a week in Kathmandu as that’s how long it takes to get an Indian visa. The Indians make it as painful as possible ensuring you need to be at the embassy by 6:30am if you want to be served as they close at noon and if you haven’t been served, come tomorrow. The beauty of it is you need to do this twice. Kathmandu was some relief after Delhi and Varanasi but it is so polluted and crowded and freezing this time of the year. In the space of 7 years the pollution has worsened to the point that I don’t think I will ever spend more than a few days in Kathmandu ever again. In a week Silvana had full blown asthma and I acquired a cough a 30 a day smoker would be proud of. Travelling this part of the world is definitely not good for the health. While in Kathmandu we took in a few sights like Swayambunath and Bodhinath which are both Buddhist stupas. The former is on a hill that overlooks Kathmandu valley which would be lovely if it wasn’t covered in smog. We also visited a friend who we were doing yoga with in Goa, who is studying at a Buddhist monastery. The art work and shrines were so intricate and views beautiful as we were outside the main part of the city. Terraced fields and greenery surrounded us, on one side at least. After that we went to the school where I volunteered in 2000. We found some of the projects I participated in had vanished or were in disrepair which was pretty sad but the grounds there are still so lush and green as there is a nature reserve behind the school that was once the Kings hunting ground.

That brings us to the present where we are doing stuff all for 10 days except eating, drinking and relaxing. There is one last problem we face though and it’s a pain in the ass. Being in a 3rd world country you come to expect power cuts from time to time. Well at the moment there are power cuts for 16 hours a day!!! So that means there is power for 4 hours 2 times a day. Now if we knew when the power was on, as it changes every day, it would be a big help especially when it comes to having a hot shower.

We will be back in India in the last week of January and will head to Rishikesh as fast as possible for another 3 months of yoga.

Lots of love

Ben & Silvana

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