India Trip Day 11 - Varanasi

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April 14th 2009
Published: April 17th 2009
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1: Crazy traffic in Varanasi 35 secs
We had to get up early this morning to catch a local bus to Varanasi. And boy was that an experience. It wasn't like the other time when we caught a lical bus and managed to get the entire front section of the bus to ourselves. Oh no, this time we were at the back of the bus complelty surrounded by all the locals. The seats on the bus were totally tiny as well, so once one person was on the seat there was really only room for the other person to place 1/2 a butt cheek with the rest of their body hanging out in the aisle. I was hanging out in the aisle. This also meant that I got stood on, stomped on, elbowed, sat on and also had my bust stared at for quite a large portion of the trip. Pip and Jess on the other side of the aisle from me didn't fare all that much better.

We were a little worried a couple of times as to whether or not we were actually going to make it to Varanasi. There was a large very loud argument on the bus between the conductor and a passenger
Jess, Pip and IngerJess, Pip and IngerJess, Pip and Inger

shopping for silk products
and when the bus pulled over to the side of the road we thought the passenger was going to get thrown off. However it was all resolved amicably (apparently the passenger hadn't paid his full fare) and we were on our way again. However we did appear to be driving on a road that nobody else was using, and that road didn't actually appear to be fully constructed yet. In fact we spent large portions of time offroading in the dirt beside the unfinished sections of the road, as well as reversing to try and find those sections. Suneil told us later on that what had happened was that a candidate for the elections in a couple of days (they are about to have their general elections on April 16th) was killed and his body found hanging from a tree this morning. Apparently another candidate had him killed because his was worried that he was too popular - go democracy! Anyway the killed person's family blocked the road from Allahabad to Varanasi in anger so our bus driver decided to try and take a detour on a road that hasn't been finished yet so that the passengers could get to
Jess and RobinJess and RobinJess and Robin

Being welcomed to the Varanasi Hotel
Varanasi. It really was quite a crazy trip.

However we made it here safe and sound in one piece.

And Varanasi is INSANE! There are so many people here and the roads are just complete chaos.

After we arrived at the hotel (Hotel Pradesh) we had a quick bite to eat and then headed off to do some shopping at a silk shop. It was an interesting experience as Suneil arranged for some rickshaws for us. You do feel rather exposed when you are riding in one of these and the trip through the city to get to the muslim area where the silk waeving is done was really quite interesting (read dangerous!). When we got there we were shown around some of the silk weaving houses and then taken to a show room where we proceeded to spend 2 hours being shown all the different types of silk weavings that we could buy. I bought you a present mum! xx

From there it was a hurried ride back to the hotel, a quick shower and then we were off to have a walk through the old part of town. This time Suneil arranged for us
Jess and SunilJess and SunilJess and Sunil

Jess has just finished dressing his head
to have some bicycle ricksaws and if we thought that the motor rickshaws were bad then it was nothing compared to the bicycle rickshaws. These are insame and you feel totally exposed in these when you are driving through the streets. The driving in Varanasi is probably the worst that we have seen yet, there are just people, cars, bicycle rickshaws, motor rickshaws, dogs, cows everywhere. Noone stays on the correct side of the road and things just come at you from all directions. However in saying all of that we haven't really seen any crashes yet. I think that they all drive too slowly for anyone to crash into anyone else. They all manage to stop in time.

As part of our walk we stopped into a cotton shop where the owner gave us quite a lenghty education about cotton cloth. How it is made, how they dye it, where the different dyes come from, the different methods of dyeing etc. THen we had the opportunity to purchase some local cotton clothes if we wanted to. Kathryn, you nearly got a skirt, but I just wasn't sure about the color so I am afraid that it has stayed in the shop. 😊

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