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Published: October 22nd 2014
Having left Pokhara and crossed the border into India and arrived at Gorakhpur (that's probably not how it's spelt), I met an old Swedish guy on the bus who was also travelling to Varanasi, he's been in India for 32 years so I stuck with him and he got the train tickets sorted, second class sleeper, you get your own bed with a softer mattress than some of the ones on the trek!
This is easily the best way to travel anywhere by train, fall asleep in one city, wake up in another, and you don't even have to pay for accommodation.
So arrive in Varanasi, and I've been told it's the worst place in India for scammers and people trying to take your money etc...so I've got my wits about me, or so I think.
I sort out a tuk-tuk (like a taxi, with 3 wheels, also known as a rickshaw) to "yogi lodge" recommended in the guide book, the guide book also says there's a few with similar names that pay commission to tuk-tuk drivers for taking people there instead of the real place, one of these happens to be called "old yogi lodge", which is where I fucking ended up! I didn't even realise I was in the wrong one until I walked past the real one! Fuck sake! SCAMMED already, ah well fuck it.
The rooms pretty clean, I have my own toilet and a fan that works, can't complain.
When I go downstairs the owner is having a chat with me, explaining that everyone outside the walls of the hotel are crooks and liars, great start, it must be bad if I'm getting warned of it by an Indian.
Anyway, I set off towards the ghats (meaning steps) which is where people descend down to the Ganges to fucking "wash", I say it in quotation marks because washing isn't something that can be done in this "water", it's full of that much shite from dead bodies in the middle to chemicals from factories further upstream. Genuinely wouldn't be surprised if the chemical makeup isn't even the same as water, it can't be fucking water, it's fucking grim and stinks!
I didn't want to get a boat up the river to view the ghats from the water because I was convinced the boat would corrode as we
sailed down the river!
So really the Ghats start at the "burning ghat", this is the main place for bodies getting cremated, I'm told that depending on caste (the hierarchy of Indian people, basically just a system so say who's better than who, very fucked up, younger people tend to be ignoring it more and more though), how much money you have and a few other circumstances depends if you get burned high up (for the richer, higher castes) or next to the river (for the lower castes) and if you can't afford for the body to be burned or have no family/friends then they take the bodies to middle of the Ganges, tie rocks to it and just sink it. The very thought that at the bottom of the water are loads of corpses, I imagine ominously bobbing about, is fucking disgusting!
If that's what Hindus have to do to prevent theirselves being reincarnated then I think I'd rather live forever! It's so dirty. The whole of Varanasi in general is pretty dirty and smelly. There's certain sections of ghats that fucking absolutely stink, it may seem like I unnecessarily swear a lot, but believe me, it smells that fucking bad it warrants swearing.
Literally they could rename the city to "fuckinggrim" all one word of course.
I knew there wasn't much to do in Varanasi aside from the ghats and I'm glad to be leaving. I was walking around with an uneasy feeling the whole time, I don't know if it was just the stories getting me or just the general vibe. But I can say with much certainty that I won't be returning at any point in the future, it was worth the visit, but it's just creepy. You're stood outside a shop on a tiny street, next thing a dead body is being carried past you, or people bathing in water I wouldn't go within 10M of in fear of getting a splash on me!
All that said, I must have met the nicest man in Varanasi!
The guy saved me from what could have ended up bad, he then took me round the city for two days on his bike showing me around, taking me to his shop, in which I kind of felt inclined to buy a lungi (a piece of material you wrap around yourself like a towel when you're out the shower), although it's a class lungi and I wanted another anyway. The whole time i was very dubious, awaiting the moment when I thought he'd inevitably ask for something, but surprisingly that moment didn't come! Fuck yeah! He also inspired the title of this blog, he kept bumping into people on his motorbike to make them move, then laughing and saying "haha this is Varanasi, no rules"
Goes to show, even in the scummiest, trickiest place in the world there's some good.
Right, fuck Varanasi, it's a shithole, thank fuck I'm on my way out!
Off to Agra and the mighty Taj!
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