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Published: December 26th 2017
Sad to leave Chitwan, but we had a leisurely start and only four hours to Lumbini, the birth place of Budha. On the way we stopped at a new Hindu temple, where they had a holy game of Snakes and Arrows, which it said would lead to enlightenment - looked familiar to me, maybe kids games are better than I thought. lumbini seemed an odd place, very rural, with hotels doted about and not a lot else. We went to the shrine, they have built a small building over some old ruins, and a glass cover over the very stone his mother gave birth on. Outside is the holy tree where his mother was standing when she gave birth to a very mature child, who walked 5 steps immediately and five lotus plants shot up from his footsteps. The Japanese have also built a Peace Pagoda there, which was actually more impressive, but maybe that's the point.
When we got back to the hotel it was full of pilgrims, which may explain why the bar was not very well stocked. We had Nepali rupees to get rid off, so we chose warm beer and vodka - about the only choice.
I really think we are here because of its proximity to the border.
Next morning was a 5:00 a.m start, as our guide wanted us to avoid queues. The fog was so thick I don't know how the driver found the road, or avoided the bikes and cars with no lights on. There was a huge queue of lorries, our guide said they had been waiting for up to 2 days to get to the front of the queue, but we were walking through so drove up to the front. We then started walking down a deserted road, and then were told to go into this small shed to get our Nepalese exit stamp, and prompt at 6:00 a man popped out of the back and began stamping. Then more walking in the thick fog through a weird no mans land, very like a Wild West town. Another shed, and we were told to get our Indian entry stamp. We could have just walked straight on through, but I bet we would have had trouble leaving India.
We now had a 10 hour drive to Varanasi ahead. We stopped for breakfast, stuffed Paratha (no choices allowed), followed several hours later by Katchouri and Samosas, then Guava, then sweet Jalabis - I think our guide was trying to take our minds off the journey. Various stops for "happy" breaks saw us introducing a scoring system for toilets, 1 being great, 10 being unbearable. The petrol station was a 6. As we entered Varanasi, I began to get a little nervous about how soon we would reach the hotel. After 40 mins I was very very nervous. When I asked if we were close and he said 30 mins I had to admit defeat and request a very immediate "happy" stop. Amazing in that traffic our driver immediately found a public loo, the guide cleared all the men out of the place, and I felt very very happy - I was surprised to score the place a 5.
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