Day 320

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October 29th 2015
Published: October 31st 2015
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Mother Ganges
From the plane I could see Mother Ganges winding through the landscape. On our arrival in Varanasi, we found a taxi to take us into the city. The closer we got the smaller the streets and more crowded until we could go no further, as the driver said it wasn't possible as no traffic allowed. We put our back packs on and began to walk through streets, shops selling everything from food to house hold goods, silk shops and vegetables stalls etc.....
We walked down the narrow back streets with sewerage flowing down the gutters, cows and people jammed the tiny streets along with more food stalls. We followed the route with our google map to our hotel. We were over come by the stench of human waste and everyday life. "Our hotel" our refuge, down a alley blocked by a cow was a tidy and clean establishment it was no ritz but we found our room very clean with coloured glass windows so as not to see the very close building next door, but a least they let in light. Clean white sheets with a bathroom and hot water with a good shower. WiFi wasn't great but it worked.Dumping our
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Mother Ganges
bags and heading straight out again eager to see Mother Ganges, following the winding street and watching people returning from bathing we figured that we were quite close. On viewing the Ganges for the first time, I don't know if i was a little taken aback as the sky was hazy from the pollution of burning body's and the dirt. Looking up and down we saw countless Ghats which line the Ganges, these are best described as entrances from different areas of Varanassi communities. Which lead down to the river with great stone steps, each Ghat has its purpose used for different every day uses from bathing to washing clothes for celebrations, festivals and cremations. I am not sure if they change Ghats for different purposes but this is how they are used. The Ganges is the holiest of rivers were every Indian must return too in the form of ashes, or can be sunk to the bottom with stones. Some ashes return from far away places of the world. We walk about a 2 Klm up the banks in one direction and observed people bathing of praying and cleansing their body's of sin. I always wanted to put my

Rooftop view of Varanasi
feet into the Ganges but this idea was slowly escaping my brain. Around 6pm there is always a Holy Hour which everyone attends, be it by river or on foot. Holy men and visitors sit on the steps of a large Ghat watching chanting and singing and offerings to the mother Ganges this last around a hour and Babas "Holy men"wander around blessing you with the daube of paint on your forehead. We had read about a good restaurant were people had recommended, wandering into the street restaurant we sat down and ordered a thal, this dish gives you samples of the regions foods and offers veggie curries and spicy dishes and paratha papadam and roti three different breads. This all comes on a silver tray with rice and then you mix then up supposedly with your fingers and eat or fork if your a westerner.The next day early start we ate breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel. We had a great view of the Ganges and after breakfast we wandered along the banks watched the laundry being done, sheets and towels from the hotels,were expertly washed and then spread over the steps of the Ghats to dry. On

The Ganges
to the next Ghatt were people were bathing with soap lathering up, men on one side and women further up the Ghat in a walled area to be a little more private but not that clean as the rubbish from the river seems to collect in these areas. Walking on we saw a fire oh dread, a cremation trying to watch and not watch as to be a little respectful. We were approached by a man who told us he was the cremator. Only the right amount of wood is used to make the fire and then the body is place on top and set fire too. While family members watched, two men aside of the fire stoked it with two long stick poles and poke in the body parts when needed. Trying to hold my breakfast down and discreetly watch was proving a little too hard so we wandered on occasionally being asked if we wanted to have a river cruise.Cows are also wandering up and down the Ghats so you can imagine the mess they make. Theirs no getting away from the dust and dirt. Even if it rains it all washes down into the holy river and it all starts again.....a way of life. But after a couple of hours wandering the streets and the Ghatts you need to escape into your hotel and shower and let it wash away your thoughts.I think some travelers aren't effected by Varanasi but this place was my greatest struggle. That night we ate at the same recommended restaurant while eating I noticed a rat running around and up the leg of my chair. With all westerners dining no one batted a eyelid and carried on eating, we payed the bill and left. I am not being unrealistic as I know that their a thousands of rats in this city but at least get a broom and shue it out. Glen later told me he had walked past the kitchen. Nothing more to say !!!!!! How we escaped getting sick in India is beyond me. I went back to the hotel and packed my bags showered and got into bed and didn't set foot outside the hotel again until the next day when we took the plane to Delhi. After 4 weeks of India we really are not sure if we will return, we wanted to see south India but time
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Laundry day
will tell. As we also had been advised that traveling to Nepal was a no go, after rioting on the boarders trip adviser and Australian government had advised no travel. We were still considering to visit but when we had been chatting to some New Zealand travellers whom had been visiting India and Nepal for over 20 years had canceled their trip we thought well that's it. So on wards to Sri Lanka the next day after we had spent the night in Delhi. We had traveled to Columbo and then a short taxi ride to Nagumbo which is a beach side town and booked into a boutique hotel just what we needed. We were greeted by a charming host Chevan and a lovely gentle man called George from London, the two had been friends for years. As Chevan the owner had worked in London at some of finest restaurants and had returned to Sri Lanka and recently opened his new hotel and George was visiting. We found the staff and everyone very lovely and felt very relaxed after all we hadn't stopped for four weeks of India. We extended or stay from 3 days to 6 and made ourselves

Drying the washing
at home we celebrated Glens Birthday with a party and with a few ex pats which came along to celebrate. We had a great night. Even Georges partner Louie who was in England sang a happy birthday over the phone. It was sad to say goodbye we had certainly been well looked after. I enjoyed shopping with the boys at the supermarket. And enjoyed the company of the house boys watching them cook while chatting to them. They wanted to know how many house boys I had running my home I told them only one and that was Glen, they all laughed.We travelled by bus to Dunbulla in 5 hours, even though Sri Lanka is small island a little smaller than Tasmania, the roads aren't that developed and it is a slow journey. After spending the night we cracked on to Trincomalee. This is another of my father story's as he stopped here in the war. Trincomalee has Asia largest natural harbour. He used to tell me stories about China bay, and I have some great black and white photos of him with a bottle of rum walking on the beach. I remember him telling me about the local boys
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One of the many Ghats
who did the washing for the crew, he said it was washed to perfection and after paying them for washing their clothes they used to toss their tip money into the deep waters and watch them dive. Remarking on the fantastic diving abilities.We visited the War cemetery and what a delight and such a credit to them, apparently the same family have maintained this cometary ever since the war and is well worth a visit maintained as good as ones we visited in Europe. Trinko was a easy beachy place were we vegged for 6 days swam in the warm waters and sat reading and enjoying our hotel swimming pool also. Eating at night at road side shacks which sold rice and currie and for breakfast string hoppers or egg hoppers string hopper are like a noodle served with Dahl and coconut sambol. And egg hoppers are a pancakes with a egg dropped in the middle. Also bananas and Nutella squished into a pancake. Plenty of curried fish and rice too lots of fresh fruit and king coconuts served with lime and ice with a dash of Arrarac the local brew of Sri Lanka. The East Coast monsoon arrived on
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Cremation on the Ganges
Saturday so we left on Sunday, so good that we spent a week before the monsoons arrived. Again on the road we bused it to Kandy another 5 hours traveling, but just lovely sitting on a old bus traveling through tropical rain forests. A crowded bus of curious people who all want to know we're you come from and were your going and so on.......lovely smiley faces.Kandy a small city in the hills which surrounds and beautiful lake, not that large but one you can spend a couple of hours strolling around. I found it quite a nice place although the weather was a little wet and drizzly we managed to visit and see everything. Buddhas tooth shrine a holy temple which houses the relic of Buddha tooth. On to Ella and the tea plantations high in the hillside of Sri Lanka rain forests and jungles. We caught a train from Kandy and travelled around 100klm which took 7 hours slow train calling at village stations and over waterfall bridges one of the most picturesque train rides in the world it was lovely even though it was marred by rain we didn't care. We arrived in the middle of the night. And being dropped off by tuk tuk to the bottom of the steps of our hotel. This is as far as the tuk tuk driver went apparently. We were met by the house boys who carried our back packs up Thank God and we followed up 150 steps and were greeted by happy faces and a large pot of steaming tea Welcome to Ella. So here we will spend a few days visiting tea plantations and climbing Adam peak and Ella rock. We hope everyone it fine and busy, some of you are having adventure of their own while other are raising their family's. And friends and family who are trying to make sense of life and it's obstacles your all in our thought and hearts we love you all ........Suzanne and Glen.xxxxxxxxxx

Additional photos below
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Feeling blessed
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Small streets that lead to the Holy River
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Negombo Beach
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Negombo Beach
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Nagumbo beach
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Binnacle hotel
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Negombo beach

Binnacle Hotel
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Glen's Birthday celebrations
On route to Trincomalee On route to Trincomalee
On route to Trincomalee

Passing coconut plantations

13th March 2016

travel to sri lanka
its nice blog,
16th March 2016

manjula krishantha dias
Thank you for your complement Manjula, your very kind.

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