22.10.2012 - 22.10.2012
Early morning wake up! Glenn's alarm went off at 5:15 for us to hurriedly get dressed and meet our driver and guide to go see sunrise on the Ganges. We were still very tired. We quickly got dressed and then drove to where we were last night for the ceremony. We got in a boat rowed by a little wizzened man. There were people bathing in the river with is very polluted and icky but to them it is holy. There are 83 different Ghats, or as I said last time steps or rather step areas, and each one is for a different god. They are all one after another and we saw quite a few. It was actually peaceful out on the river and the sunrise was pretty. There were a lot of tourists out on boats but all but one were just row boats so not a lot of noise. We also saw where they were cremating several bodies. They build large pyres by the river and place the body on it and light it. Our guide said it takes about 2 to 3 hours for the body to be reduced to ashes. Then they put the ashes in the river. We walked back through the oldest part of town. The streets were too narrow for cars but there were still bikes and motorcycles.
Back at our hotel, we cleaned up and packed back up again. We ate breakfast out on the terrace just outside our room. It over looks the Ganges and from up here it just looks muddy not as poluted as it is. We are both running on fumes now so will try to rest for the hour it takes to get to our next site and the hour it takes to get to the airport from that site.
We didn't rest because our guide used the time to tell us the story of Buddha. We went to Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. The was a temple we went through that was built in the early 1900s. Then there were the ruins of the original temple and and monastary that the Muslims destroyed after they came to the area. It was neat to walk around the ruins. We also went into a museum that held the artifacts that the British archeologists found when they excavated Sarnath. After we finished there we headed to the airport.
We are now experienced India air travelers and know the rather odd routine that they have for processing and moving people around. So as the experienced and dare I say more enlightened ones, we helped those that were less experienced and wandering lost in the vast and crowded wilderness of the Varanasi airport. They have certain places that you wait for different things during the process and you can't move from that area until they decided it is time. Of course they really don't communicate this well or very much at all. We learned after our first trip from Dehradun airport to Jaipur airport. One other couple exclaimed that their process was just plain screwy after we told them what was going on. Anyway our flight was delayed 1 1/2 hours but that was no big deal after our train experience. We arrived in Bhubaneshwar close to 9. Our guide met us and took us to our car. Once again I am not sure our driver speaks much English which might be a problem since we won't have the guide any more. Our guide also took us to his office where were able to exchange dollars for rupees since we were getting low. Our hotel here is nice. It is modern and very clean. We did laundry in the sink since we have a hair dryer to finish the items off in the morning. We just needed socks and underwear and it is too early for Christmas so we just had to wash what we had. (Family joke about the Christmas thing...that's what you always get for Christmas) We ordered a cheese pizza to share as we were hungry but not terribly so. It is hard to be certain since it was dark as we were driving in but Bhubaneshwar seemed cleaner and was definitely better in the driving and traffic arena. Will let you know more about it tomorrow.