Overnight train

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December 26th 2017
Published: December 28th 2017
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Varanasi was not what I was expecting after seeing the Sue Perkins program on The Ganges, they must have sought out the worst and smelliest places just for effect. Granted, I wouldn't want to go for a swim in the river, and you did have to step over cow dung and cows on occasion, but it was not that bad.The ghat where they do the cremations seemed a lot less dignified here than that in Kathmandu, although it is one of the most prestigious places, just very chaotic. Seems if you can't afford the wood here, they just shove the body into the river, sometimes in bits!

On the river side was a hot air ballon, thetherd, that was giving people a quick trip up to about 50 feet and then back down, it was like being at a carnival. We watched the prayers, each ceremony starting 5 minutes after the one on the next door ghat, so if you miss one you can catch another one starting just next door.

We had to get the overnight train at 17:30, but had to leave at 15:00 even though he station is only 4 miles away. Loaded into TukTuk's with our luggage we all headed off in different directions. Can't say we zoomed off, traffic is so bad it was more like a complex game of chicken, swerving into gaps, slamming brakes on etc. We were so glad of our face masks to keep the fumes at bay.

We were in AC 3 tier, which meant open carriages with bunks. Our bunks were the top ones, a bit ungainly getting in, but the sheets were clean, as was the carriage and toilets - a great surprise. everyone seemed to settle in to sleep early, except the family next door. All their kids seemed to find us a huge source of entertainment, constantly peeking at us and giggling.

The small town of Orcha was delightful. On the River Betwa, it has a thriving white water adventure business as well as a stunning fort and palace complex. After doing the tour, a bit of relaxation was called for, so we went for the white water rafting, where the raft guides sole purpose was to get the tourists drenched. Then to a locals house for a cookery demonstration, where I broke the chapati rolling pin (too strong I was told), eating what we cooked followed by getting a nice henna design on my hand. We are sleeping in tents again but glamping style this time, with hot and cold water, flat screen to etc. Very safari style.

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