After having literally two months of only sun, we were destined to have one single day of rain before we left. Magically enough, this came on our last day, when we were about to leave for Thailand. It was not only the weather which had made us ready to leave the country, don’t get us wrong, we have absolutely loved India. Every day of our journey, we have gotten one step closer to adapting to the culture and now we would have to reset ourself for something completely different.
|A map of the whole trip we made in India|
Our luggage has also just been stripped of all our sleeping bags and warm clothes, which we have sent home or given to local people. As Calcutta is one of the cities closest to the Bangladesh border, we found there to be more homeless people, probably that had come over from the even poorer country in the East. The sight that met us when arriving at Calcutta train terminal was just a sea of homeless people sleeping on the bare ground.
Even though the price level will be much higher in South- East Asia, we should have no problem finding some cheap summer clothing to buy when we arrive in Thailand. With the brief video attached to the next post, we will try to give you a small insight into the life we have been living the last couple of months.
The city of Varanasi centers on the holy river of Ganges, where people from all over India come to wash away a lifetime of sins. It’s the perfect place for “people watching”, where you can mingle with the fascinating mixture of people who come here not only for a ritual bath but also to wash clothes, do yoga, offer blessings, sell flowers, get a massage, take photos, play cricket, wash their buffaloes, improve their karma or simply just hang around. At night the same place evolves into a whole other world of lights and colors where intimate rituals like cremation and other ceremonies take place. We feel lucky to be able to witness something like this.
After our two months in India, this is where we have come closest to a stereotypical Indian city, and the experiences from this city will live long in our memory.
Couchsurfing* was something we had wanted to do for a long time, but since the average standard of an Indian home can be quite different than we are used to, we were a little bit skeptical to try it here. We had earlier been contacted by a couchsurfer in Khajuraho who seemed genuinely nice. His name was Yogi and really wanted us to stay with him so he could show us his hometown. After a little consideration, we decided to make a stop on our way to Varanasi to meet him.
We were positively surprised when he took us to his home and showed us his family as we felt very welcome right away. It also seemed like he had put a lot of thoughts and planning into our visit, as he had a full program of sightseeing and other activities ready for us to do. He drove us around on his motorcycle to see the erotic temples among others (as it was the city of Kamasutra) and together with his friend we also spent a moment sitting in the wheat field of his uncles farm discussing our travel experiences and the cultural differences between Norway and India.
Before the day was over he had cooked lunch for us, and his family had taught us how to make egg curry and chapatti (Indian bread), which we had for dinner. It was an emotional moment when we had to say goodbye to him and his lovely family, but we were also ready to get some sleep on our night train to Varanasi.
* Couchsurfing: a webpage where one can look up people who are willing to offer their couch to travelers in exchange of friendships and cultural experiences.
Agra is, together with Delhi and Jaipur, one of the three cities in the famous “golden triangle”, and was the capital of the Mughal Empire. This has had an architectural influence of many buildings and monuments in the city. The most famous building you can find in here is the magnificent Taj Mahal, which was the first thing on our list of things we wanted to see in India. Another famous building we got to see on our whole day of rickshaw sightseeing was the Baby Taj Mahal: a smaller version of the huge Taj, only built 33 years earlier, and also much less touristy.
Even though the two buildings were quite a sight, we found the city to be not so impressive. The streets were full of pushy sellers, and tourists wandering around. The tourists in this city seemed like they were on a charter trip, and not a cultural backpacking experience like most of the tourists we have met in India so far. When the evening came, it was time to say goodbye to our friends, Ingeborg and Hanne who we had been traveling with since we met them in Delhi. After this it was once again time to travel by ourselves towards our new destination: Khajuraho.