Thursday, 4 July 2013

Things Heat Up in Varanasi

We checked our tickets at breakfast and were disappointed to discover that we hadn’t moved from Wait-List 2 & 3 and our train was departing in the afternoon. This meant we’d have to waste the morning with another trip to the station, 25 minutes away, to try to buy Foreign Quota tickets again. On arrival we were informed that such tickets didn’t exist for our train and that there were no Taktal tickets left either. There was nothing we could do until the list of seats was drawn up at 2pm and then we’d have to recheck to find out whether we’d made the train or not.

Boats lined up for a cruise along the Ganges
With no options left we headed back to town to check out the Golden Temple. It took us a frustratingly long time to find as it’s all enclosed amidst the massive market area which we wandered around aimlessly until we found the one and only small entrance on one side with a surprising large amount of security. We had to pay to put our bags in a locker and then register our passport details with the guards before being let into what was a truly run down temple, which gained its grand name from one ‘golden’ spire rising out of the degraded temple grounds.

Hot and a bit disappointed with what was meant to be a great attraction we found our way to the ‘Brown Bread Bakery’ for lunch and enjoyed a pizza and AC for an hour or so before walking back to the Ganges where, despite the filth of the river, we were so hot we were almost tempted for a swim... almost…

Time had gotten away from us and we soon realised that we had better hurry to collect our bags and buy some food before boarding another overnight train, the last one of our India adventure, bound for Kalkuta. All the rickshaw drivers were demanding three times the normal price, maybe they could sense the hurry we were in and knew we were in no real position to argue, which was true so we had to just take the least of the expensive fares. At least we chose a good driver who understood we were in a hurry and drove more manically than is usual and thankfully we made it to the station with 10 minutes to spare. 

We were very happy to find our names on the boarding list and we hopped on and set up our beds for the last time. Sarah started a course of antibiotics for the sinusitis which was still causing her head to feel like it was going to explode, and we hoped that those and a night on an air-conditioned train would mean she felt better once we arrived in Kolkata.

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