02.05.2006 43 °C
Its hot... very hot.
Pardon me for the informality and let me expand. Its very very very hot! We currently reside in Agra, home too the Taj Mahal and very impressive it is too.. a big white domed tomb... lovely!
Any way more if this hot place later firstly let me tell you a tale of thieves, corpses and of course our return from the mountains. So we were riding racks around a snowy lake last time, yes. Well I shall continue from there.. after discovering China 'pon a Yak, we headed west toward a little town named Pelling. Pelling is a samll place with a few hotels, a couple of Buddhist Monestrys..and a small compliment of tourists all of whom are trying to book jeeps out of Pelling! Its just a little bit too quiet.. and the monestrys are inconveniently located atop of mountains, one assumes the walk lets a monk become one with nature or someother hippy nonsense, but after seeing a nice jeep full of monks and driven by a monk arrive in the car park of one of the monestrys after her ladyship (i will explain in a moment) and I had struggled up the lofty hillock I get the impression its more for the lovely views and of course their amusement as the foreign tourists arriv on the brink of a heart attack! When your religion prevents you from harming all other living things I guess you do get a little passive agressive!
- Her ladyship is christened thus as she has been suffering a little in all departments.. back, neck, stomach, insect bites and the rest, anyway shes not shy about informing me of her many problems and as such I must treat her in a precious fashion for of breaking her! Just as well for the lonely planet guide to infectious diseases theres plenty in their for her too choose from!*
Anyway for all Pellings charms it was like I said.. too quiet! So we like everyone else left swifty enough.. heading back to the Darj.. we did have one interesting experience when we joined an Indian tour group for half a day... the Indians are a bit like Japanese tourists only with crap cameras and absolutely no respect for nature... the general form is:
1) Get in jeep
2) talk loudly and shrilly (if female).. intersperse with burps and the occasional hucking up of phlem.
3) Arrive sight, decamp from jeep.. through rubbish over the edge of road.
4) Take picture of sight with friends (if waterfall throw more rubbish in the catch pool at the bottom)
5) Get in jeep and repeat at next sight!
It was as you can imagine a rubbish tour! But there you go.. anyway we retired to the Darj where you proceeded to buy up souvenirs from the local bric a brac stores. It looks like we have a buddhist monestry in our back packs! Anyway the Darj passed and the time came for us to take of our jumpers and return to the heat of India in the summer! Hmmm Hmmm.
And here starts the most grueling journey to beset us so far! Darj to Varanasi by jeep and by train. The journey did not start well, about an hour into our jeep ride down to the station a small child began projectile vomiting like the girl out of the exorcist only rather than green slime it looked like a banana smoothy.. delicious! Pandamonium broke lose with the father cupping the protein rich shake in his hands whilst the child maintained an erie calm throughout, never once crying and I think I saw it turn its head 360 degrees! Anyway the journey continued and after 3 hrs of vomit induced nausea and the fear of repeat performances.. we tumbled on to a train for the next leg of the journey a 14 hr trip to Patna... located in precisely the middle of nowhere. We arrived at 4am having had barely any sleep to find a railway station rammed full of sleeping Indians! I should note that just before arriving at Patna a thief had tried to steal some jewelery from a woman on the train sitting right next to where we were. There was a huge commotion with Indians running allover, but the thief had been smart and struck as the train was pulling out of the station.. suffice to say he got away, extremely sneaky! Anyway where was I..yes Patna.. Patna is rubbish we had to stay there for 7 hours or so untill our train on to Varanasi left and they were punctuated by bugger all with the exception of being befriended by an Indian boy who gave me a magic calculator.. hmmm ok. I'm still not sure if its a bomb or whether there's some drugs hidden inside.. I wont be taking it with me from india! But still he seemed like a nice chap!
Anyway we got to Varanasi finally and it was hot! Varanasi as some of you will know is famous for its ghats where the hindus come to bathe, clean and burn their dead relatives on the banks of and in the river Ganges. Its a strange place with the old town being made up of hundreds of cris crossing narrow passage ways all of which have the potential to be extremely dodgy indeed! As you can imagine the 25 degree jump in temperature took its toll and for most of the 2 days we were there it looked like we had just been swimming in the Ganges! Not a good idea as the water is septic playing home to 1.5 million nasty bacteria jobbys per cubic millilitre of water.. basically its about 5000 times dirtier than the max amount deemed safe for bathing by the WHO.. nice! We took a guide on the second day who toured us through the streets of Varanasi and around the many temples as well taking us on a dawn boat trip which was pretty amazing. He even took us to the temple where a bomb went off about 2 months ago.. good old morbid tourism then! We saw our share of toasted ex hindus on the banks of the Ganges mostly in ash form thankfully for Jens sake! Our guide was an interesting fellow by the name of S.K. Roy who is notable for 3 things; 1) he drank the water from the ganges and survived 2) he had a huge tooth that stuck straight out of his mouth and 3/ whenever he dated a building artifact etc his date would be out by between 500 years and a millenia. I think the last 2 can be attributed to 1st probably! A strange man, who at one point declared he wanted a picture of me to put in his advertising, where he would pass me off as a young 'before he was famous' Andrew Flintoff. He obviously would have to put before he was blonde, blue eyed and six foot whatever flintoff is and also before he undeerwent facial reconstruction surgery.. a strange man as I said before.
Anyway thats that from the big V.. quite a nice place and I had a haircut from an overzealous barber who should have know better.. after telling me he would cut not to short not to long he proceeded to cut far far to short to the point where he had a cutthroat razer our to cut 'a beeet closer sir'! Jennie throughout expressed her displeasure at his handiwork by sighing heavily as opposed to stopping him.. she later told me she coud see it was getting to short and I shoud have stopped him.. she obviously failed to notice that a) I cant see what he does on the back of my head and b) he had a sharp knife! Anyway I look like a marine now which isnt as fetching as it might be.. thanks god hair grows back... I feel i got my moneys worth all 35p of it! Right anyway we jumped on yet another train last night to get to Agra this morning where it is hot! around 43 degrees today and rising towards 47 degrees later this week... i think we might melt! Right thats it I'm off to get an ice cream! hooray
p.s. I lost my pipe somewhere so am feeling less colonial without.. should find it soon enough.. so will still be able to take Dehli for England and the Queen come sunday.. we shall attack from the east where they least expect it! Off to Jaipur tomorow before Dehli and then on to Singapore and next stage of our adventure.
Regards all... A.J. Mulliner Esq