Monday, September 1, 2008

Pokhara/Lumbini/Road to India

we returned to pokhara dirty and tired. the next couple days we took it easy. some laundry, internet, good food, and leisure walks near the lake in pokhara. pokhara is made for relaxing and refueling after a trek. we enjoyed it by going from one restaurant to the next. a short day hike up to the world peace pagoda reconnected us with our old friend the leech. coming down into pokhara town we saw one more beautiful waterfall. now re-energized we planned our voyage towards india.

We headed towards lumbini, a small town on the nepali side of the nepal-india border. it is special as it is the birthplace of the buddha. the bus there was supposed to take 7 hours but in actuality, after the many stops and the breakdown, it took about 10.  on the bus exchange we met a couple traveling in the same direction. abby and briel had been on the road for almost a year. together we searched lumbini for a place to stay but there was nothing even close to decent. eventually we agreed to go with an old man who had a guest house in the old lumbini section. we decided to stay the night, since it was getting dark but moved to a slightly nicer place the next day. the next morning the four of us rented some bikes, and began exploring the sacred garden. inside are temples from different buddhist countries, in particular the maya devi temple, surrounding the actual place of birth, and an ashokan pillar. the garden is a work in progress as temples are still under construction. riding on our haphazard bikes was fun and basically that is all there was to do in lumbini. the next day was more of the garden touring on our bikes and an evening of watching the stars and fireflies surrounding us. our next stop would be india!!
mey

the morning started off with a fun ride on the rooftop of the bus to bahairawa, our first bus change of the day. we'd seen this done by nepalis many times on the always overcrowded local buses. the ride was great with the wind blowing in our hair. only at the end did we start ingesting dust and fumes and then it was time for our second bus to sunauli. we arrived at the border town and just had to walk right through. by this time it was midday. i didn't really know what it meant to be profusely sweating until we were sitting on the bus to ghorakpur. as we were awaiting the bus to leave, beads of sweat formed on my face and trickled down. a mere 4 hours later we were at the ghorakpur train station. faced with a choice between a train that would get us in to varanasi at 11 pm or a later one that would get us in at 4am, we chose the former and ran to the unreserved train to grab seats. the  train was a disaster- hot and crowded, every time we stopped moving tens of cockroaches would come out and swarm around us. and the train stopped a lot. what was supposed to be a 6 hour journey, turned into 10, and we made it to varanasi at 3 am...
dby

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