A road trip to Nubra Valley

[SORRY, WE DON’T HAVE THIS BLOG POST IN ENGLISH]

Nubra Valley

2 days trip

หลังจากเที่ยวใน เลห์ ลาดักห์ กันไปแบบเต็มๆแล้ว
อีกสามวันที่เหลือเราจะนั่งรถให้ตูดเปื่อยไป Nubra valley (หมู่บ้าน นูบร้า) กับ Pankong lake (ทะเลสาบแปงกอง) กัน!

NUBRA VALLEY hit the road

ทริปสองสามวันนี้คือต้องนั่งรถกันเป็นวันๆเพื่อจะไปถึงสถาณที่ที่นึง
เตรียมใจนั่งรถกันให้ดี พกเพื่อนดีๆไปด้วย เตรียมเสื้อคลุมกันแดดและหมอนรองคอให้พร้อม
อัด Playlist เจ๋งๆและ power bank ให้แน่น แล้วก็ Hit the road กันเล้ยยย!

Nubra valley, I’m coming!

รอก่อนนะจ๊ะน้องอูฐ พี่กำลังไปหา!!

NUBRA VALLEY on the road

Morning in Leh

ตื่นกัน 7:00 am เราตื่นคนแรก เราจะอาบน้ำแต่น้ำเย็นมาก และไม่มีเครื่องทำน้ำร้อนชั้นบน
เราเลยถามเขาว่า ที่นี่มีน้ำร้อนไหม ชั้นล่างมีเครื่องทำน้ำร้อนไหม อาบชั้นล่างก็ได้อะไรแบบนี้
เขาก็บอกว่า yes yes yes พยักหน้าหงึกๆๆ แล้วบอกให้เรารอเดี๋ยว เราก็รออยู่แป๊บนึง
ซักพักซันทิลก็ขึ้นมาพร้อมถังใส่น้ำร้อน คือสรุปที่นี่ไม่มีเครื่องทำน้ำอุ่น เขาไปต้มมาให้เราอ่ะ
ซันทิลน่ารักมากขออะไรก็บอก มีๆๆ yes yes yes พยักหน้าหงึกๆๆ น่ารักมากๆ
8:30 เก็บของเสร็จกันแล้ว รถยังไม่มา เอาของบางส่วนฝากไว้ที่เปียมาเพราะไปค้างที่ Nubra คืนนึง
และต้องปล่อยห้องคืนนึงให้คนอื่นเช่า จะได้ไม่เสียตังค่าเช่าอีกคืน พรุ่งนี้ค่อยกลับมาเช่าใหม่
เปียมาชวนกินชา เลยได้เข้าไปนั่งห้องนั่งเล่นกัน
ซักพักซันทิลพาลามะมาบ้าน พระมาปั้นๆสิ่งที่เรียกว่า “โชป้า” ปั้นเป็นรูปเคารพหรือเอาผงมาทาตัว
ลามะก็เล่นกะเราใหญ่เลย พยามจะหลอกให้เรากิน 555

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Day 3

Nubra Valley

Road trip ไป camping, ขี่อูฐที่ Nubra

The longest road trip

วันนี้ road trip ไป Nubra กันนน
เป็น road trip ที่ยาวที่สุดเท่าที่เคยนั่งมาเลย (แต่เดี๋ยวตอนนั่งแคชเมียร์อาจจะนานกว่านี้)
ในภาพคือเอ๋ยทำอาหารเช้าให้กิน เป็นขนมปังกับ Nutrella ที่เอามาจากไทยด้วย มีโอกาสได้กินซักที
เพราะอาหารที่นี่ดีกว่าที่คิด เลยแทบไม่เห็นต้องพึ่งอะไรที่เอามาเลย
(สาบานว่ากินได้จริงๆนะ ฮ่าๆๆ อย่าเพิ่งตัดสินจากรูป)

Into the grate things

แล้วยิ่งออกไปไกลธรรมชาติมันก็ใหญ่ขึ้นเรื่อยๆ เรื่อยๆ
ยิ่งออกเที่ยวก็ยิ่งเห็นอะไรที่ยิ่งใหญ่ขึ้นเรื่อยๆ และเราเชื่อว่าต้องมีที่ยิ่งใหญ่กว่านี้อีกในทริปต่อๆไป
พอเห็นโลกกว้างๆก็ยิ่งทำให้รู้สึกว่า เฮ้ย ตัวเรานี่เล็กจังเลย
มองภูเขา ท้องฟ้ารอบๆตัว สุดลูกหูลูกตายิ่งกว่าเดิม

ลาก่อนสีเขียวชะอุ่ม พุ่มไม้ในเมืองเลห์

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สู่ความเวิ้งว้างอันไกลโพ้น…

ตลอดทางของ road trip ก็จะเป็นประมาณนี้
ปีนไต่ไหล่เขาไปเรื่อยๆ หวาดเสียวบ้างตอนที่รถสวนกันบนถนนแคบๆที่ชำรุด แล้วรถเราอยู่ฝั่งด้านนอก
มองลงไปเห็นล้ออยู่เฉียดกับริมผานิดเดียว เห็นหินตกลงไปข้างล่างแกรกๆๆ ทำได้แค่เชื่อใจในคนขับรถเท่านั้น

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จุดพักชมวิวจุดแรกที่เขาจะจอดให้เรา
เมฆลอยอยู่แค่นี้เอง อยากจะหยิบลงมากิน
เห็นเงาของเมฆพาดบนภูเขา ชัดเจนมาก

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ทุนดุ๊บสุดหล่อ

ก่อนอื่นขอนำเสนอ ทุนดุ๊บ (tundup) คนขับรถผู้พูดน้อย แต่ใส่ใจหนักมาก ฮ่าๆ
รูปนี้ไม่ค่อยชัดเท่าไหร่ เดี๋ยวดูรูปล่างๆ เดี๋ยวๆๆๆ!! ทุนดุ๊บอายุประมาณ 27
ทุนดุ๊บพูดภาษาอังกฤษไม่ค่อยได้ แต่แม้จะสื่อสารกันไม่เข้าใจเท่าไหร่ แต่ก็เข้าใจกันได้ดี
เราใช้เวลา 3 วันเต็มๆอยู่ด้วยกันบนรถ ตามทางไหล่เขาที่หวาดเสียวมาก แต่ทำไมไม่รู้เรามั่นใจในทุนดุ๊บมาก
เขาจะขับรถด้วยความมั่นใจ เอาจริงๆเรียกได้ว่าขับห้าวมากๆเลยแหละ ในขณะที่ก็รู้กฎกติกาและสุภาพด้วย
เวลามีลมฝุ่นเยอะๆอยู่ข้างหน้า เขาจะรีบกดปิดกระจกอัตโนมัติให้พวกเรา
เวลาแดดมา เขาจะหันมามองๆพวกเราว่าโดนแดดหรือเปล่า แล้วเอาที่ปิดดึงมาปิดให้
เขาจะชอบสังเกตุพวกเรา เช่นเราน้ำหมดเขาก็จะรู้ มีจะแบ่งน้ำให้กินด้วย
เวลาเราเปิดฝาขวดน้ำเขาก็จอดรถให้ด้วย เราก็งงว่าเขาจอดรถทำไม อ้ออ เพราะเขาจะให้เรากินได้สะดวกๆ น้ำไม่หก อูววว
เพราะทางที่นี่มันยึกยักๆ ไม่ได้เรียบๆ มันเลยกินน้ำลำบากหน่อยเวลารถแล่น (หรือจริงๆเขากลัวเราทำหกเลอะรถเค้าวะ 555)
ps.รถไม่มีแอร์นะ เปิดหน้าต่างโลด

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สองสามวันที่อยู่กับทุนดุ๊บ ก็ได้ลุ้น ได้เสียวเวลาเขาขับรถเลนส์นอกที่มองลงไปไม่มีอะไรนอกจากหุบเหวลึกๆ
เวลาขับสวนกันกับรถคนอื่นๆเป็นทำเนียมที่รถที่อยู่ด้านใน ต้องหยุดให้รถที่อยู่ด้านนอกผ่านไปก่อน เพื่อความปลอดภัย
ซึ่งทุนดุ๊บถือว่าเป็นคนมีน้ำใจบนท้องถนนมากๆ

ฟ้าใสขนาดนี้ ไม่ถ่ายรูปได้ไง

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ต่อมาก็ทำ Permit เข้าเขตของ Nubra valley
ตรงนี้ทุนดุ๊บจะทำให้ทั้งหมด ตอนถึงด่านเพราะมี permission ที่เอเจนซี่ทำไว้ให้เมื่อวานแล้ว
แต่อย่าลืมพกพาสปอร์ทอ่ะ ตรงนี้พวกเราก็แค่นั่งรออยู่ในรถเฉยๆ
ทายจิเล่มไหนของเรา : )

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Highest road in the world

ถึงจุดที่เป็นถนนที่สูงที่สุดในโลก (18,380 feet)
ขนาดไม่ใช่หน้าหนาว บนนี้หนาวแฮะ แวะพักได้แป๊บเดียวเอง

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พักระหว่างทางที่ๆสอง
แทบไม่อยากลงเพราะง่วงมาก กำลังหลับได้ที่เลย แต่ถ้าไม่ลงนี่เสียดายแน่ๆ
ตรงนี้มีม้า มีคนมาปิคนิค มีรถโรงเรียนมาพักจอดให้เด็กๆลงมาเล่นกัน
เด็กที่นี่หน้าตากวนโอ๊ยจริงๆ ตาคมๆมองจิกๆ แถมเล่นกล้องเป็นบ้า

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Maggi is always a good choice.

พอออกมานอกเมืองเลห์แล้วคิดถึงเลห์ชะมัด คิดถึงมากทุกครั้งที่กินอาหาร T-T
เริ่มไกลออกมา อาหารก็หามีรสชาติได้ยากเหลือเกิด ฮือๆ ดังนั้นสิ่งที่เราจะชอบกินกันคือ “แม๊กกี้ใส่ไข่”
ไม่ใช่ซอสแม็กกี้นะ แต่ยี่ห้อเดียวกันนั่นแหละ เค้าทำเป็นบะหมี่กึ่งสำเร็จรูปขายที่นี่ สั่งเขาว่า maggi with egg
เราว่าประทังชีวิตได้ อร่อยด้วยถ้าร้านไหนที่ปรุงดีๆอ่ะ เมนูนี้มันทำให้ไม่อร่อยยากมากเลยนะ!
ร้านไหนทำ maggi ไม่อร่อยก็อย่าไปสั่งอะไรอีกเลยเราว่า

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It’s on me : )

อย่าลืมจ่ายค่าข้าวให้คนขับด้วยน้า ไม่กี่บาทหรอก
มื้อไหนที่กินด้วยกัน บอกเขาด้วยนะ ว่าเราจะจ่ายให้ ไม่ต้องเกรงใจ
ส่วนใหญ่นักท่องเที่ยวเขาก็ทำแบบนี้กัน
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ห้องน้ำหลุมครั้งแรกในชีวิต..

อย่างน้อยเขาก็ดูแลความสะอาด ดีกว่าห้องน้ำในจุดพักชมวิวอ่ะ อย่าได้ไปเข้าเลยขอบอก ที่จะให้เดินเหยียบเข้าไปยังไม่มี
เอาละนะ จะเปิดล่ะนะ!

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รวมแฟชั่นห้องน้ำในเลห์

เกร๋ไก๋มีสไตล์ ฉี่หดตดหายกันไปตามระเบียบ

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ไปกันต่อนะ : )

นี่ก็ใกล้เย็นแล้ว เราจอดพักตรงนี้กันแป๊บนึงหลังจากที่ขับมากันหลายชั่วโมง
มองดูภูเขา นั่งดูขบวนบิ๊กไบท์ขี่ผ่านไป

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Hot spring & วัดทิเบต

ระหว่างนั้นเขาจะพาเราแวะสองสามที่ก่อนถึงหมู่บ้าน
เราว่าถ้าไม่อยากเสียเวลาให้ตัด  Hot spring ออกไป เพราะไม่มีอะไรเล๊ยยย
มีแค่ม้าที่หลังเขา กับอ่างแช่เท้าที่เห็นในรูปด้านล่าง

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ที่ๆสองเป็นวัดทิเบต ที่มีวัวทิเบตเฟรนด์ลี่ๆหน้าตาประหลาดๆ
ตอนเราไปลามะกำลังสวดมนต์กันอยู่ เลยได้นั่งฟังนั่งดูอยู่แป๊บนึงก่อนจะออกมา

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ทางแบบนี้คือ ใกล้แล้ววว..

จะมีดอกม่วงๆข้างทางเป็นพุ่มๆ  เขาเอาต้นพวกนี้มาทำเป็นรั้วบ้านกัน

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Finally we get here : )

ถึงแล้วที่พักใน Nubra valley เราแพลนมานอนแคมป์กันที่นี่ สรุปแล้วจองเป็นเต้นท์นอนสองหลัง ด้านหลังเป็นทิวเขา
เรากินอาหารเย็นกันที่นี่เลย บอกให้เขาเตรียมไว้ให้ (ต้องจ่ายเพิ่ม) เพราะขี้เกียจออกไปหาอะไรกินที่อื่นแล้ว
ที่นอน ระวัง bed bug นะ เอาผ้าห่มไปสลัดๆนอกเต๊นก่อนแล้วก็ปัดๆเตียงก่อนจะนอนนะ
ps.ห้องน้ำเป็นห้องน้ำเล็กๆในตัว ยื่นออกมานอกเต๊นหน่อยนุง
น้ำตอนเช้าและตอนกลางคืนหนาวมากกก เรียกว่าเย็นเจี๊ยบเหมือนออกมาจากช่องฟรี๊ซเลย ยอมไม่อาบอ่ะ

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Having a greeting tea

ชอบ baked narn, ชอบน้ำตาลเม็ดโตๆ

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บารปา เจ้าอูฐหนอกเหี่ยว

ออกมาขี่อูฐกัน เรามาช้ากันนิดหน่อย แต่ดีที่ยังทัน โอยชอบจังเลย animal riding เนี่ย
ไม่ว่าจะเป็นม้า เป็นช้าง เป็นอูฐอะไรก็แล้วแต่ ชอบบบบ
(แต่นอกจากม้าแล้วก็ยังไม่เคยขี่อะไรเลยนะ แต่รู้ไว้ก่อนแหละว่าชอบ ฮ่าๆๆ)
อูฐเราชื่อบารปา มันไม่ได้กินน้ำหรือไงทำไมหนอกมันถึงเหี่ยว แต่ก็สู้ของเอ๋ยกับนาเดียไม่ได้
เหี่ยวจนพับไปข้างๆเลย  สนุกดี อยากขี่นานกว่านี้จัง

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อูฐเป็นสัตว์สายแบ๊ว มันชอบทำปากจู๋อยู่ตลอดเวลา
xo xo~
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day3-2

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อาหารเย็น..

หลังจากเราบอกให้เขาทำอาหารเย็นไว้ให้ แล้วกลับมากินกันด้วยความหิว ก็พบว่า มัน.. ไม่.. อร่อย. เล้ยยยย ฮือๆๆ
จะบอกว่าคนบนที่สูงเขาไม่ค่อยกินเนื้อสัตว์กัน ส่วนใหญ่เลยเป็นอาหารมัง
แกงอะไรอ่าาา ผัดอะไรอ่าาาา (แต่ไอ้แผ่นๆกินได้นะโอเคเลย)
เราเลยเอาเลย์มาคลุกข้าวกินกัน ฮ่าๆ แต่ก็แอบเห็นโฮสเค้าแอบมาด้อมๆดูๆว่าเราจะเป็นไงกันบ้าง
เราก็กลัวเขาเสียใจก็กินๆกันเข้าไปบ้างแล้วก็แบบ ทำท่าทางเอร็ดอร่อย แบบ หึมม โอเคเลยว่ะแกร อร่อยๆ
ทำไปก็ขำตัวเองไป เป็น moment ที่ตลกดีชะมัด

ถือว่าเตือนแล้วนะ ไป Nubra เอาขนมไปเยอะๆ!

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Good night Nubra valley : )

เขียนโปสการ์ดแล้วนอนกันเถอะ

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Day 4

Bye Nubra

way back to Leh

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Just you and me and the road and the playlist

ขากลับเราแวะกันแค่สองที่ ใกล้ๆกันคือวัด กับ พระศรีอริยเมตรัย  แล้วต่อจากนั้นคือ road trip แบบ ยาวไป ยาวปายยย
ถ้าโบกรถหารเฉลี่ยมากับคนที่ไม่รู้จักก็อาจจะสนุกไปอีกแบบถ้าเขาเป็นคนเฟรนด์ลี่
แต่ถ้าไม่ก็คงจะโคดน่าเบื่อเลยล่ะ สองวันมานี้ได้ใช้เวลากับตัวเองนานที่สุดละ
สิ่งที่อย่าลืมเอามาเลยคือ Play list เจ๋งๆใส่มือถือหรือ ipod มาด้วย (รถทุนดุ๊บมีสายให้เสียบต่อลำโพง)
เราเตรียมกันไปแค่ไม่กี่เพลง สลับกันฟังขับเพลงเลห์ดึ๊งๆของทุนดุ๊บ ซึ่งก็ดีที่เขายังวัยรุ่นอยู่ เพลงที่ฟังก็เลยค่อนข้างสนุก
ส่วนพวกเรา กลับมาก็หลอนเพลง “lost star” กันไปพักใหญ่ เปิดทีไรกลิ่นฝุ่นที่เลห์นี่ลอยเข้ามาเลย

รูปนี้เอ๋ยบอกว่า “กุไม่ขึ้นไปนะ กุรออยู่ตรงเนี้ยแหละ” (เอ๋ยเป็นโรคกลัวความสูง ฮ่าๆ)

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โอเค งั้นทิ้งไว้ตรงนี้นะเอ๋ย พวกเราไปล่ะDSCF2294

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พระศรีอริยเมตตรัย

เป็นพระองค์ใหญ่อยู่ตรงกันข้ามกับ Monastery เมื่อกี๊เลย

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แล้วก็กลับ Leh อย่างสวัสดิภาพ ภาพนี้เป็นภาพที่เราอัดวิดิโอเต้นกันระหว่างทาง
ไว้ทริปหน้าไปเต้นกันใหม่นะ สัญญาว่าจะอัพขึ้น cloud วิดิโอไม่หายแน่นอน จุ๊บๆ

Budget

Pay together (/4)
Tour van to Nubra (round trip) = 9,606 INR
Tent camp = 4,816 INR
=> 14,422 INR = 3,605 INR /person
= 1,975 THB /person

**Food (Together/4) ค่าข้าวกลางวันจ่ายให้คนขับด้วย
**lunch on the way to Nubra = 470 INR
dinner @Nubra = 800 INR
lunch on the way back to Leh = 450 INR
dinner @Leh (gesmo restaurant) = 575 INR
water & snack = 30 INR
=> 2,325/4 INR =581 INR /person
= 318 THB /person

**Entre fee
**Hot spring = 30 INR
Camel back riding = 350 INR
Monastery = 30 INR
=> 410 INR
= 225 THB /person

**Personal use
**i-scream = 20 INR
=> 11 THB /person

Total for these 2 days
** = 2,529 THB**


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 ขอบคุณรูปภาพบางรูปจากนุ๊งปูน Poon Jeewarat

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Along the Ganges River @VARANASI, INDIA


First time in INDIA | From thought to real

PART III

( Varanasi  & Sarnart )

Varanasi a 4,000 years old city by the river with a colorful and mysterious way of life.

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**Part one is here @ http://mithuna27.com/india-in-dream/
Varanasi is certainly one of my favorites when it comes to seeing the life of the locals in the alleyways there along the sacred Ganges worshipped by the Hindus.

A quick fact check: Being four thousand years old, Varanasi stands the oldest city of India. It was here that Lord Buddha decided to give his first sermon to the first group of disciples of 5, after he found the enlightenment in the deer park, Isipatana, where is now called Sarnart. Well, that’ll suffice for now.

IN CONCLUSION

As I used to say, “Some of the most outrageously cute experiences about Varanasi, asides from hazy streets, is probably the poops lying around the sidewalks.  You wouldn’t know where they came from or which cows, buffalos, goats, monkeys, or even if somebody left them causing unpleasant sight and smell.  Stepping on one?  Don’t panic.  You’ll get used to it fast!  Can’t get your shoes cleaned up?  That’s fine too.  Because most likely you’ll step on another in a minute.  Asides from that, these people must have had a thing for Japanese.  If you found yourself hearing some weird accented Japanese words sounding like “kimuchii” or “konichiwa,” that’s probably the locals being nice to you.  Just yell some broken Japanese in return.  They wouldn’t know what that means, but they’ll like that.  Varanasi has its charms with all these small shops in the alleyways along the river, where the locals flock to sell anything you can imagine.  This is some kind of adornment to the river in itself.  Varanasi, incredible India!”  And that is true to very last word of it.

After paying respect at the great stupa once more, I hurried back to the temple to pack and hailed a ride. Almost got caught in the traffic, I finally made it to the train station. I ran like there’s no tomorrow through the crowd, hoping to get the tickets in time, and luckily I had them. That almost brought tears to my eyes.

Life on the train

I hopped on the train, and second-class ticket brought me to the car with rather civilized, well-mannered Indians.  It gave me a different impression of the raw gruff boorish locals I normally meet on the streets.  But if you’re in the funky mood, take the local trains.  On the train, I met a boy who sat with his handsome father while his mother was napping on the upper bed.  Having fun playing Candy Crunch with the boy didn’t require us to talk much.
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*The first class car housed double bunk beds, while the second class car triple bunk beds.  Both classes of the car were air conditioned, equipped with folding bed compartment.  In the second class car, getting our backpacks into the upper bunk bed needed a bit of monkeying, and got them laughing at me.

P.S. Judging from this photo, I was still very tired from dashing in from ticket booths into the train car.  All sweaty and perked up, right?  Hahaha.DSCF5661

Even in the heat, Indians always have time for a hot cup of tea.  Maybe all the ice just evaporate in that kind of heat or it was the influence that they got from being under the British Empire back then.  Well, here is one tasty cup that took my breath away.DSCF5666

Mughalsaraij Station

The train arrived at Mughalsaraij Station in 3-4 hours, which was a longer route to take to get to Varanasi. Actually, there is a shorter route, but I decided not to take to save some money.
DSCF5698 DSCF5719 DSCF5706*A photo of Pop, a nice and polite adventure mate. We met here and he tagged along for just a few days. Pop was a nice guy who put others before him, but relentless to those clueless Indians on the streets. Simply put, even Indians thugs would have to bow to Pop. Hahaha. I’ll put off saying thanks to you until the very end, you lil’ rascal. 🙂

This pinkish fountain served the purpose freshening people up in this extreme heat. Use it to wash the dirt off your face, and clear your eyes with. And despite its hint of murkiness, this water quenches the thirst of people here. (but not me)DSCF5713DSCF5730

Super Rock Auto!

From here, it took another 30 minutes on auto.  (Auto is short for auto-rickshaw which is a kind of three-wheeler vehicle.)  The city, though very crowded with people, but at least the roads are well paved.  The roads outside the city are dirt roads.  The auto while getting through the bumpy roads shook me side-to-side, getting covered up by the dirt from the roads, feeling like being inside Koala’s March box.  So a piece of handkerchief to cover your mouth with is strongly recommended.  The driver was listening to his Indian music sounding like the beats of drums and clunky string instruments, though faintly heard from the passenger seat, I figured it must have gotten him movin-and-jammin’ through the bumpy day.  The reckless driving style made him a guy not to meddle with, cutting in front of other autos and cows just by an inch or so, constantly honking horns tempting others.  The mixture of the sweaty dirt all around me, the heart-pumping Indian songs, and being shaken in the auto rubbed me into thinking that life was so much fiercely fun.  (Yeah, a bit extreme to some.  Hahaha.)  When coming here, it must be all these things that put you in the present and recognize!  So don’t put on your earpod diving into your comfort zone of some pop songs and cutting off the surrounding.
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The Haunted Indian

The first local con man I met

The auto driver promised to bring me all the way to my lodging, but he dropped me by the outskirt junction, saying that it’s only a bit further down the road but his auto wouldn’t go. He left me to continue on foot, and because of the chaos I had endured all day, I didn’t have strength or time to argue but only asking him to point to the right direction. He said to go and ask some kids, and he took off. I looked around and found people taking autos into the city. That’s when I knew the driver conned me. He could’ve taken me into the city, and after a few kilometers on foot, I knew that it was not just “a bit further.” I didn’t know it would’ve taken me at least 2 hours of a walk into the city. Factoring in all types of road hazards and crimes, I really needed a transport. Fortunately, a rickshaw came by. The driver seemed to know the guesthouse I was headed too. So that night I was saved and got ourselves a little guide, Mayulr. What a relief!

Chaotic Night

My first night in Varanasi had a mix of fear and excitement. Unlike those in Kolkata, the locals here busy life. The streets were so full of people orderly heading somewhere, lugging carts, carrying food, and stuff. Everything I saw here reminded me of the past centuries or something, maybe the time Siam was lost to Burma. I too was flowing mindlessly along the crowd feeling hopeless like prisoners of war at the time. (It sounds impossible, but it got me going. Hahaha.) The Indians thronged the streets, very energetic and a little threatening from who knew what they had for dinner. The Holi Festival was nearing, so they were all out buying new house items to prepare. I simply inched along the street, and that was faster than any type of transport. I was too tired to walk, let alone stand up, so Mayulr got me on rickshaws and I couldn’t help but feeling like lord and mistress of a mansion having him tagging along.

While I was on the rickshaw, the locals past me by to carrying a corpse headed for the Ganges River to be cremated and washed away. They came so close that putrid smell from the corpse was almost unbearable. The corpse gave me a chill to the bone since it was only covered by thin fabric. That was how death is a grim reminder to everyone. Some days these corpses just float by the shore while the dwellers are doing all sort of things including drinking, cooking from that very body of water.
DSCF5799**DSCF5818**The auto brought me to Varanasi by night time. The city, though full of people, was still scary to some degree. My little guide, Mayulr, and I took a ride on 2 rickshaws.

Our little guide ‘Mayulr’

was a boy who are interested in computers and English language skills. He told me, “I am free until Wed-nes-day.” So I figured that was the day the Holi Festival took place. But no! He meant to say Wednesday. To him, I said, “You mean Wednesday?” He insisted, “No! It’s Wed-nes-day. You are not pronouncing it right. I took a class. They taught me. You can’t trick me,” and gave me a brows twitch acting so proud. Seeing him so proud of himself like that, I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I have been saying it wrong my whole life.” (I also found a lot of others pronouncing Wednesday wrong too. Maybe it’s something you can find out for yourself.)

The Varanasi Allay

At last, we’ve come to the alleyways. We took off on foot into these small alleys woven together forming a complex network like that Diagon Alley in Harry Potter movie. Without a guide, I would be absurdly lost. To be honest, I was totally afraid to go into these alleyways at night. They are not just so tight, but all these people were making it feel even more uncomfortable. Every step I took sent a throb to my heart. Every sharp turn may reveal dark corner and dirty menacing Indians could’ve just jumped on me and took me for their sexual adventure. All I could do then was to toughen up and make the face, but I was all too pretty and dainty on the inside, and all these features couldn’t be kept locked up but reveal themselves into a beautiful girl as I am. Hahaha. (Whaaam!! My readers must have been slapping me to snap out of my dream.)

We often bumped into some Indian soldiers along the ways. They were there to keep the peace. This is our first night. By the time we were leaving, it would be the night before the Holi Festival. I assure you. It would be the night where all hell break lose.DSCF5862DSCF5860

I could hardly found a smoker here, ever since I came. But a lot of them, both men and women, chewed areca. Its red spits can be found on the ground, and the wall. So I must warn you to watch out for people here looking like they’re chewing something in their mouth.
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An antique shop
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A street shop prepping the items for the Holi Festival.
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If you want to go into these stores, you need to step over the front display, as I described in my Kolkata post that the way to go in is the same way to come out.
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Mysterious in the little old shop

The network of alleyways was the charm of Varanasi. The shops carry anything you can imagine, be it, candy, icy cold soft drink, a pair of scissors, stickers, postcards, rubber (Not condom; rubber! But if you wish to find condom, I’m sure they have it. Hahaha.) electrical wires, camera films, firecrackers, hair dryer, toy gun, and countless more. I wanted a pair of scissors. I asked around, thinking I would be disappointed. But at last, I found an Indian running a really run-down shop having stickers, soft drinks, some snacks and other stuff that didn’t seem to belong at the front display. He said, “Yes, I got a pair for you.” He went to the back and came out a shiny new pair of scissors, and best of all it was just about 10 baht. We wanted some scotch tape and Gauze. And what a surprise he had those too. He just went to the back and came out with everything, didn’t he? He must have gotten a Doraemon back there. In this tiny shop just a few square feet, if you want something, just ask them.DSCF5886

Then I saw a hair parlor for the first time. This is a real shop; unlike those hairdressers I normally saw operating out in the open.
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Now some food.DSCF5836 DSCF5851 DSCF5856Looking at this just makes your stomach growl, doesn’t it? Though I don’t recommend eating these unless you want to risk having upset stomach or worse! I took these photos just for show.

Tea in the baked clay

After finishing a cup of tea here, an Indian guy told me to toss the cup away, because nobody else would use the cup once used by people of other classes. (If this is false, please feel free to leave a comment.) So I looked around and found many used clay tea cups broken and were discarded on the ground all around.
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Another kind of street thug that no one would not dare meddling with is the cows. Cows are big here. They can do anything they want just like us humans. They wanna sit, they sit. They walk, sleep, piss, take a dump; anywhere they want. They don’t seem to give 2 cents about us either. And oh! Goats and monkeys too. Don’t mess with them or no one here is gonna side with you. Dogs are minor population here.
DSCF5779 IMG_2596**With a cute goat, this photo was taken after a whole day of strolling along the Ganges River. *

Finally reach ‘Shiva Guest House’

Then it was time to come back to the Shiva Guest House. It was situated near the Ghat waterfront of the Ganges. From here, I could have walked to the river, if it hadn’t been too dark to stride through rough walkway. Google Map that I used frequently on this journey was useless here. I had to rely on my little tour guide. He led me through the dimly lit passage to find the guesthouse. As we neared, my guide led me to turn to a really dark corner, too dark too really see anything. I cringed. It got me suspicious of him whether he was leading to some kind of underground whore house, and my little life would be ruined. After all, in this town of unknown, who could I trust really? Good thing I came with a friend. We hesitated a moment to muster our courage, and took steps into the dim walkway. Wow! I found my guesthouse. Whew! What a night! The room was . . . cozy. Everything seemed decent. Except an old photo of an Indian guy on the wall gave me a creep everytime our eyes met. After a night rest, I came down this very street again. Of course, it didn’t scare me as it did the night before. I realized it was all in my head and I was so tired from spending all days with some hectic crowds.DSCF5897(Someone asked which camera I used. I used Fujifilm X20, and Lightroom to retouch these photos.)

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Guess what this is. It’s clothes hanger. They seemed to be everywhere; the ceiling, or the floor. For these hangers they go all the way up to the top deck. I wonder what they’ll do when comes rain. (I forgot to ask.) The photo on the left was an upshot, the right, taken looking down from sundeck.
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This guesthouse seems decent except that it’s a bit hard to find, and like I said, scary at night. It’s near Ghat waterfront. A short walk and I could find the Ganges River. All sorts of tourists were staying here. They liked sitting in the sofas in front of their rooms chatting about their days and what they found. Perhaps they were even friendlier when they knew I had similar experience. So I encourage everyone not to by shy, talk to them, exchange opinions, and little cultural values.

The Ganga River

Ok, this is the climax of the story. Ready? Good. Follow me. Today I woke up and waited for Mayulr, my accidental guide for another day. But he didn’t show. I paid him for 2-day guide yesterday. I should’ve paid him day-by-day. I didn’t know whether he woke up late or he simply took off. Hahaha. “That’s fine,” I thought. My friend and I waited a moment and decided to head off so we wouldn’t have missed the Golden time.

The first time I laid my eyes on the Ganges rendered me breathless.  I kept thinking that it was so astonishingly beautiful that I couldn’t even begin to put into words.  I felt as if my heart was about to explode.  My hands must have been holding the camera strapped on around my neck so it wouldn’t fall, or these charming photos wouldn’t have materialized.  But I knew no photos could capture the sight that I had that morning at the Ganges.  I only wish these photos would move you, and these words would at least tell you the profound experience I had that morning.

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If my eyes did deceive me into thinking that it was a heavenly river, I tell you, I have no complaints.  You have to catch it at the right time.  Go in the morning no later than half past 6, or what you’ll experience would be completely different from what I’ve captured here, which is perhaps the reason some people say, “It’s just a river.  Stop overrating it.” 

You have to be at the right place, at the right time to fully experience this momentous hour of the day.

Life along the river

People who live by a four-thousand-year-old river.
DSCF5911At the Ganges, everybody seemed to get up early for their morning baths. (And maybe morning pee-pees too, but I’d rather leave it to your imagination because I happened to test the water with my own hand. Hahaha.) The Ganges has many names; some calls it Ganga. It depends on their territory.

The light of the new day

This is the shore of Ganges as I’ve seen it in Discovery Channel documentaries since I was little. The Hindus perform their rituals here, preserving the water for consumption, or bath to wash away their sins. I arrived on Sunday morning. The light of dawn reflected off glistering water looking like a vast golden land as far as my eyes could see. Everything on both shores found its life anew as everybody came out for bath. Some came to wash off the ritualistic paint they had from the day before. Today was the day before the Holi Festival. Perhaps that’s why everybody seemed happy and friendly. Compared to what I used to see on Discovery Channel or Google search results, these old damp paintings looked more vivid in real life. (Before I came here, I Googled Ganges and Indians. All photos I saw looked rather hopelessly grim. But don’t you do that right now. Read on and let’s imagine together. Before you come here and see the grim reality like me. Hahaha.)

Ganga river

Due to the fact that people set afloat the corpses or even cremate them here, Ganges is undeniably one of the most contaminated on earth. Surprisingly, scientists found high amount of Oxygen and microorganism capable of consuming harmful bacteria or virus. The more people keep bathing in the water, the more of those microorganism. That makes the Ganges 25 times more resilient to return to its normal condition than any other river in the world. I am here to attest that the water is clear not murky and odorless not stinky. Here’s proof.
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Let’s shove off!

Now on to the boat! The light is looking swell. 🙂
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The hotel of death

This is where they cremate the bodies. They name this place “Hotel of Death.” It is divided into small rooms to arrange for the dead and the relatives to perform their rituals. No photos should be taken, but I didn’t understand the old boatman, so I was taking many photos until the other boatman shouted at me to stop. That’s when I thought, “Oops, sorry.”DSCF5962

For the rich, they can buy enough wood for cremation, but for the poor, only so much they can afford. All the remains will be disposed into the river. I actually saw remains of a cremated body floating by. Well, at least there was still some coversheet. They use white plain cover sheet for male bodies and any other color and pattern for female. I could see the corpse floated by the locals who were having play time with each other by the water. This is normal for Hindus for they believe that death liberates a soul from suffering. My boatman said that the fire here had been burning for at least 4,000 years. They cremated at least 10 bodies every day.

Moment on the ship

It’s nice. The boatman taught me a thing or two on boat paddling. We alternated a little just for kicks. 🙂
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Asking the Ganges for pardon with a floating basket. Other boatmen would paddle by selling these to you. They take asking price, so go ahead.
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Some people were there to perform rituals, while some were just having watery fun. I was free to take photoshoots, unlike in some countries that people may be offended. Here, the locals couldn’t get enough to be photographed. Hahaha. Just look below.
DSCF6016DSCF6004This man must have been performing a ritual too.

Once I got to the other side, these ladies were performing another ritual, building some kind of sexual Shiva symbols with sand to worship Shiva. (If you want to know about that, Google Linga.)DSCF6028 DSCF6032

On this side of the shore, you must watch out for the con Indians. Absolutely and definitely don’t bother with them!!! They come selling you something, say no. They come giving you a massage, walk away. One guy came to me saying “You happy, I happy, you pay, happy together.” Don’t bother with them. Once you give them some cash, they’ll never leave! Though I recommend taking a horse ride. Don’t forget to settle on the price first.

It’s getting late. I’m getting off the boat.DSCF5988DSCF5933 DSCF5931DSCF5942*Pei and Pop were trying hard, real hard, to look like the locals. Yeah, well. Hahaha. The type of hats they’re wearing is actually used in wedding ceremony. It can be found quite easily. Mayulr brought these guys to get one the night before.

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I’m so satisfy, here is your tip ; )

My boatman was constantly trying to explain to me things in Hindus while we were paddling. I hardly understood anything he said. Some hand gestures helped communicating with him. Like for the time he was telling me in Hindus not to take photos around the Death Hotel, I was actually taking excessive amount of photos just as I thought he said to me to take photos. I didn’t understand him until the other boatman shouted at me in English. Hahaha. Well, at least I got these nice photos. He also taught me to paddle. I was impressed by his honesty and kindness, so I gave him a 200-rupee tip. You like someone when they do good service to you, you tip them, right? After an hour of boat ride, I returned on land. DSCF6080DSCF6099IMG_2340

I saw this guy looking like his head was going to crack open with blood all over his head. Stay calm, though. He had just joined the pre-Holi Ceremony. That red liquid could take a week to wash off. Yet he looked like he was having fun, didn’t he? I told you Varanasi should be a nice place to visit. Hahaha. DSCF6142 DSCF6152 DSCF6179 1200-2 DSCF6134 DSCF6198


This is the chic outdoor barber service that I mentioned before.
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Bird feeder
DSCF6187This guy was yelling at me for stepping on his bird feed, but once I turned around and point my camera, he suddenly turned the smile like so.  Hahaha.  Charming, huh?

About the Holi Festival

This is about time people come to wash off the paint from Holi Festival. It’s hard to rub off, and should stick for days. They believe it’s for lasting friendship. About the Holi Festival, it takes place just when the winter is done, and spring is on the rise. Hindus cease this opportunity to celebrate, splashing paint, and colored dust on each other. The colors represent the will to live prosperously, and like I said, the hard-to-get-off paint represents lasting friendship. Indians set aside social classes during Holi Festival. Just have fun, real fun. Settle rough edges with the neighbors and things like that. It’s that time of year that love fills the air, despite insignificant change in beliefs throughout the years, just like any other traditional festivals like Songkran in Thailand. Here, the night before Holi, Hindus are setting bonfire and burn Holika dolls. It’s a belief to burn evil things, and that good will always win.
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The Civil War??

To be honest, I didn’t know why people were so unusually disorderly the other night. See. Holi Festival is like a civil war. Picture everyone running around avoiding the bomb, saving themselves. (Actually, they were as drunk as skunks. That is how Indians got drunk.) Some even lit up firecracker and dropped it in the middle of a crowd. Some set bonfires. To me, it was a total chaos. My friend thought they might have been burning someone alive, and they had their eyes on me. Well, that’s gone too far. But we have to watch out among the drunk, right? After all, they looked scary enough sober, when drunk, who knows? I was riding a rickshaw and suddenly a local came and slapped the driver on the face. When I catch an auto to return to Kolkata (I chose to do that at night time for some reason. Hahaha,) a guy threw a live firecracker at my auto. Good thing I had the shades down, otherwise it would have come inside my auto and I might get burnt or scream my lungs out. So I must recommend to stay in-door at night, or you’ll risk losing your sanity.

Ganga Aarti

Ganges Aarti is a symbolistic ritual to worship Ganges with fire. None of the god worships can be complete without Ganges Aarti. It is believed to bring wholesome happiness to the worshippers. It starts at 6:30 every evening. People gathered around and chanted together to appease Ganges. Ok. Ready? On land or on the boats. The chanting was about to begin. Ready your Aarti lantern, lotus blooms, and some scented incense.
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The ceremony began.  Chanting started.  Trumpets were blown.  Gong was banged resonating spellbound sound throughout the area.  Strangely peaceful indeed.
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We were on a boat trying awkwardly to paddle our boat to chant with the locals. Luckily the boat was not so far from the shore, so I easily got on land. Attending the ceremony on the boat, and chanting on land certainly gave me different kind of experience. Coming close to these people being among them chanting, I could see their eyes full of faith and I couldn’t help but feeling the same. 🙂 That night, I returned to my room heart filled with joy that I would remember all my life.
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YUMMY!

Yummy! Let me introduce “Ganga Fuji Restaurant” and especially “Spicy Bite.” The food there was so unbelievably tasty. I liked it so much. The locals there can also fix you some Japanese menu, and Korean menu. A lot of tourists dropped by and had a taste.

These menu below are from Ganga Fuji Restaurant. This restaurant had full musical bands playing Indian fun jumpy music.  Many customers left a piece of greeting notes on the wall.  If you go there, try to find mine. 🙂  I dined here since my first night.  I brought Mayulr too.  These were different curry dishes that I couldn’t remember the names.

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And this is the best contender, Spicy Bite menu “Chicken Burter”.DSCF6289I think the winner this round went to Spicy Bite : )

SARNART

“Sarnart” or known Isipatana park in the old days.

Let’s go on a little pilgrimage, shall we?
Before setting out, do little face painting, and snap!

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Today, I’ll take autos into Varanasi.  On the way, an official hitched a ride with us.  I wasn’t alarmed or anything.  It’s normal. 
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The Sarnart entrance fee was just 2.5 baht for Thai visitors, a great discount from regular 50 baht, because Thais had been not only visiting the park, but also rebuilding it.
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The park was very spacious with many historical sites.  For those who aren’t religious, they wouldn’t get the sense of the significance of the park. 

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The Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his first disciples of five here some twenty-five hundred years ago.  The Dhamek Stupa is now set on that exact spot telling the visitors the story of Buddha enlightenment and his setting the wheel of Dhamma in motion at the time.  Now, allow me a moment of peace to pray  : )

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You can also meditate here, and despite the heat, you should find peace within.  Then it’s time to get back.  I was still holding on to the charm of the park.  I wish I could stay there for Holi Festival.  But well, better stick to the plan, joining the festival at Kolkata, then fly back to Thailand.  That night I returned to the guesthouse knowing that it was the pre-Holi night, so I should have fun going back again.  (As I mentioned in “About the Holi Festival” and “The Civil War.”)

End of this trip

Finally, I want to summarize my tips for you,

so you’ll be prepared for your trip.  I’ll also tell you how I felt about the trip, and my opinion toward India briefly.

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About how I felt

  • With all the hardship and discomfort going on this trip, I’ve come to be aware of my physical strength.
  • The autos gave me exciting experience, even though every ride almost gave me a heart attack.
  • I shouldn’t have given any cash to any kid-beggar because all others would surround me begging for more.  *(Actually, they would come begging no matter what.  So be prepared for cutey-dirty kids all over you, and don’t get scared.) *
  • Dirt!  Gosh, so much dirt!  Just imagine yourself being sprinkled on at the top of those chocolatey sweets.
  • Even though they know we wouldn’t understand neither Hindi nor Bangalore, they speak it anyway. 
  • Having intense feeling toward someone and want to let it out?  Yell something in your language.  They’ll shout something back in their own language; an altercation just for kicks and nobody gets their feelings hurt too. 
  • Stepping on poops in Varanasi is like breathing the air, drinking water.  Chill out! 
  • Anything can happen on the walkway there including poops, pee-pees, product displays, damp clothes on the hanger, animals, chicken slaughtering, or even human slaughtering.
  • Indians, particularly, those at tourism sites, are aware of you tourists with cameras.  Whenever they see you taking selfies, they’ll call you out and if you think they’d take photos of you handing them your camera, they’ll say, “No.  No.  Me.  Me,” with his fingers pointing to himself, and before you know it, they take a few steps back and pose.  Hahaha.  You’ll get used to it.  Go on and take “their” photo.  Show it to them too.  Don’t be rude.  I assure you they want to see their photos. 
  • The sales reps here are really aggressive and ready to pull off any tricks.  First, they may tell you, “It’s free.  It’s free.”  While they’re doing something for you, say a message, they’ll notice you’re feeling happy, and they’ll almost immediately say, “Happy, happy.  You happy.  I happy.  You pay.  Happy together.”  Haha.
  • When buying something, negotiate the price.  They’ll get you more than you really want to buy, with a cute smile on the face, and end up costing you more.  If you say you don’t want all the extra stuff, they’ll simply make innocent face saying, “Oh not 5?  Just one?  Well get 2 then?  Why not get 2?”  Something in that vein.
  • Travelers, there are real travelers.  They are very friendly and no one is too proud to talk to one another.  Probably they realize that they have never lived a life with so much hardship and that goes the same to you.  Haha.
  • Indian foods are tasty, hands down.  Don’t believe the naysayers.  Go there fully prepared about what to eat, where to dine, and you’ll find the whole experience more pleasant.  Do your research.
  • For anybody who says India is filthy, I have to agree.
  • Before buying any product or service, make sure to get the exact price of each item.
  • Always check your bills, because ringing the bills wrong happens all the time in India.
  • Make sure you fight back when you’re taken advantage of, or they’ll do that again and again on you.
  • Getting a Sim Card there is very difficult.  I wouldn’t do that on a-few-day trip, but rather, use Wi-fi inside any shop you can find.
  • If you’ve never visited India before, make sure to have some mobile data plan.  Get a roaming plan if you have to.
  • Don’t ride the Kolkata subway, unless you have to.  Though very cheap, it’s so cramped with Indians that it may suffocate you.
  • Buying things outside the mall, try asking half the price.

India is full of 2-opposite things visually or emotionally.
Life goes through so much hardship, but touching smiles are everywhere.
If you asked me what I impressed me most about the stay, I would have to say their smiles.  (Yup, a bit cliché like beauty pageant, isn’t it?)
The dirtiest surrounding I’ve ever encountered.
The prettiest sight I’ve ever laid eyes on. 

All in all, this trip to India has been the most glorious 7 days of my life.  While living there can sometimes be dangerous, India shall stay in my memory as a country I most adore : )))

Self Note

I’ll always remember . . .
The impression I felt once I got out of a cab and shouted, “Bring it on, life!”
The impression I felt when I set my foot off an auto.
The first taste of chicken butter and Nans.
The cringe and frustration I felt when I got on a sleeping train.
The morning at the Ganges River.
The moment when I reached into the holy water of Ganges.
The fright while I was waiting for an auto in the dark night among those Indians crowd.
All these precious memories that I have never felt before.

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SCHEDULE

Trip records: March 13 – 20, 2014
13 Flight to Kolkata.  One day to visit Victoria Memorial.  Packed inside a cheap 2-baht subway.  Shopping.  Deep in the underground market (for money exchange.)  Night train to Bodh Gaya (Sealdah station)
**14 **9-hour train ride to Bodh Gaya.  Spent a night at Thai temple.  Took a stroll.  Worship the Mercy Buddha at Mahabodhi Temple.  Evening rickshaw ride to the Japanese temple. 
**15 **4-hour train ride to Varanasi (Mughal Sarai station.)  Arrived by evening.  A boy as our guide navigating the network of alleyways and finding the guesthouse.
**16 **Catch the Ganges at dawn.  Sarnart at brunch.  Back at Varanasi for dinner.  Out at six to get tickets to attend Ganga Arati.  By late night, catch an auto to Kolkata (very scary.)
**17 **Lonely and quiet day in Kolkata.  Off to Kali Temple, but end up at a wrong one, and almost watch cows and goats sacrifice.  Visit the St. Paul’s Cathedral and the tomb of Mother Teresa.  Shopping for some souvenirs.
**18 **A whole-day train ride to Santiniketan.
**19 **Off to Kali temple, and got it right this time.  Got back and had Peter Cat for dinner and make Henna.
20 In the morning, fly back to Thailand
 : )

BUDGET** **

Visa : ** $65 (in Thailand)
Jet Airways : $188
Train : $52
Living & other: ~$60

Total   $365**

Exchange rate 1 USD = 65 Rupees (from underground market in India)

Don’t forget

Mandatory items & Cautions

Mandatory items include:
+handkerchief
+a pack of hygienic masks
+smelling salts
+diarrhea remedies
+hand gel
+wet tissue
+bunch of small bills
+petition paper for VISA.
+Allow 2 weeks after being vaccinated. The hospital should best advice you regarding vaccination once they know which country you’re headed. I took 2 vaccines against Typhoid and Encephalitis.
+Spending a night at Thai temple at Bodh Gaya requires booking through their Facebook page.

+The document that you have to print for VISA https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/info1.jsp

Vocab. Note

Rickshaw = basically a three-wheeler.
Auto = motorized three-wheeler.
“Namaste”, “Namaska” = Hello.
“Bai-ya” = “Brother”, “Bro” male auto driver.  (“Di-di” = Older sister).
“JOL LI – JA RO” = Go faster.
“A-cha” = Ok.  (When saying OK, you have to shake your head.)

Other

– Many Indians are vegetarians.  So packing of many products or menu items at the restaurants are clearly labelled Veg.
– India is not a country that you should travel alone, especially for women, first time travelers and visitors, or during festivals.
– India is a dangerous place.  Be on guard most of the time, and the rest be hopeful. 

– Not just in India that you should be on guard, any other foreign countries too.
– Any place can be so dangerous if you are reckless. And no place can make you happy
 if you constantly focus on the negative side of things.
– So, Use the positive and negative at the right time. (only you can know, what the right time is.)

Special Thanks

Thank you, all of my fellows.
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After the trip

The only remnant from the trip to India is the Henna that I got. It lasted for a week after the trip, and everytime I looked, it reminded me of India.  Thanks for everyone and everything that made this trip possible. It had been an undeniably precious experience. Bye-bye India and until next time. I promise that.

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BODH GAYA | Feel the faith


First time in INDIA | From thought to real

PART II

(Bodh Gaya)

Bodh Gaya, Feel the faith under the Bodhi tree

**Read the first part [email protected] http://mithuna27.com/india-in-dream/
Just step into and you can feel the power of faith under the Bodhi tree.

In India, I saw believers in all races of Buddhism gathered together at the Mahabodhi Temple, where the Buddha enlightened. Both the Tibetan Buddhist monks and ordinary people, that worship in the Buddha, stay, pray, and meditate here. Everyone is really indeed and calm. I love to see the eyes of faith that people who come here have. I saw belief in it. It was so intense that I got goose bumps. If you would like to visit this place, please come with the intention of it with your real faith. Remember that you are coming in the place where the world’s great apostle enlighten and seen the truth on this earth by himself.

9 hours on the train

We spent 9 hours on the First Class rail train, which had bunk beds and blankets that are bristlier than elephant skin. Weirdly, we fell asleep like dying under that elephant blanket without any imagination of train station fright or the subject itself. We woke up again at 7 o’clock. Most of the Indian people are already woke up. I looked down and saw an Indian aunty on the bed below, woke up before me. She is sitting by the window and looks like she is thinking about something. Her eyes look out to the vast outer land. The sun shined through the red curtain onto her, and the light flashed with the shadow of trees outside. That scene took my eyes for a while before taking eyes off to a wider area outside.

It’s the point that I felt like I’m being just a small human, bringing myself traveling in the big world, in the new big realm among the cultures and people that are unfamiliar with.

I looked out, there was only a barren land without any buildings. Some areas have farms or a little house located there. This relieved me, my swells inside. I like this feeling.
I felt like there is a lot of things that I have never seen, never felt and never experienced. So much of it.
I had relieved, no worry about anything. Stop thinking about troubling issues, the job, and the uneasy things.
They are all just like a small dust when I took myself out there. And realize “So far, how have I took that little thing so serious?”

This feeling, we called it. “The feelings of those who depart,”

I think it is not just a feeling. In fact, it has something to do with spirituality. It’s like getting closer to nature. I thought the things that our humankind created is the greatest thing. Those inventions were the things that we always been caught up with. When we came out and experience the nature, which is the origin birth of life. Those inventions are just a small fraction of the powder of mother nature.

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Almost got to Bodh Gaya. I washed my face with wet tissues and prepared bottled water. Actually, I wanted to use the restroom. But after seeing it. Okay, let’s skip to the restroom at Thai Temple instead.

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On the train, we talked to the Indians again. We gave him Japanese snack. He split it into pieces and gave it to his whole family. Then they gave us a big pack of chocolate as a return.
Actually, Indian people are kind and lovely. We slept first class train, so maybe we met people that are calmer. (But the local train are funnier)  We were getting close to Bodh Gaya. The outside view became more attractive after seeing the arid areas for a while.

Funny Indian

We reached Bodh Gaya at 9 o’clock in the morning.
We got out of the train, and suddenly, the unknown smell infused throughout the station. I looked around and found the origin of the smell. Apparently, “a man was peeing.” What I just said is not just one man, but they were standing in a row near the station wall. I grabbed my camera out and tried to took it. Previously, I got a pooping kid. I missed it a lot of time we saw people peeing in public. Now, I got one! Mission completed! Give me a hand!
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At the station with Indian people

I’m getting used to their habit a little bit. In the image that everyone looks like the cheater, I feel that they had a playful mood in it as well. In this picture, I would like to take a photo with a bogie. But a guy inside the train pushed his tongue out and play with his eyes. So I changed my mind to take pictures with him instead. Then, two more Indian came to take a photo with me. If we stay longer, I would have to take the photo with the whole bogie.
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Gimme more!

We headed to the Auto car to get to Thai Temple. Indian people kept pressing the horn and driving dangerously. To tell you the truth, the drivers here must be very skillful. It’s like they almost hit a cow for several times but not. They just drive very near within an inch. Kolkata, which is known as a hard city to drive in. Here is far more challenging. The dust was all around, and the road has holes that could give you a neck pain. You might feel like your intestine is almost gathered together on the toes. Is there any difficulty more than this?! Bring it on!

On the way to town & Cow poop

The cow is holy God according to their belief. So how can cow poop not be sacred? Valid logic, right? I will not argue that. By the way, Indian people take the cow poop and get a handful of it then roll it into a flat bundle, Finally, plug it into the wall. It will be like Chinese Chive Dumplings on the wall but let’s make a guess “What is the Cow’s poop art for?”. I searched it. The results said cow poop here could protect you from evil things and prevent that things to get into your house also attract to your family too. But actually, it is a fuel. I saw that when he form it up, they put a little hay in it. And put it on the wall. When the scraps of hay went down because of the dryness, they took it and used it as fuel in their household. This thing could be kept for a long time. And you know what? It’s unlimited, and it coulee be sold in the market for money. This is brilliant! 

DSCF5154I did not take a picture of cow poop wall hence the car was shaking at that time. During our way to the city, this is the best picture.

Thai Buddhist temple & First Thai food

Here we go, Thai Temple.
Seeing Thai characters gave me a warm heart feeling. It’s like coming back home, seeing friends. We booked it earlier via Facebook of the temple, They said there was enough room for 3 people like us. Then talk to the monsignor and gave them the papers before going to our room.

WAT THAI BUDDHAGAYA
This Thai Buddhist temple is considered to be the first Thai temple in India. It was created by the Indian government, celebrating the Buddhist century or the Buddhist day (Visakha Puja day) in 1957. Therefore, Indian government invited Buddhists all over the world to create their own temples in Bodh Gaya, the origin of Buddhist land and Buddhism. By the way, Thailand has responded and built the first temple of the event that is this temple. Then there is the temple of Japan, another Tibetan monastery. I’ll bring you there.

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While we were waiting, an elephant mahout was riding in the elephant passing by. Monsignor gave him some water. The elephant drank some water and played with it.

So he sprayed the water for it, the elephant enjoyed playing with him.
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This restaurant located in front of the with its name ‘TakBatr,’ which means ‘offering food to monks.’ We sat down and had a talked with the restaurant staff for a while. I miss Thai people. Coming here at Thai restaurant and eat Thai food for the first time since I had been in India. You know that feeling? Previously, I ate roti, curry, flour, and cheese. I miss our jasmine rice. I want to eat some rice. A soft one with fried eggs in a Thai style, which is like it’s overcooked, but not. The egg came with a yolk jam inside. I tasted it, and it’s like I’m home.

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The best toilet, I almost tear

This place has the best restroom since I came here. It has “toilet spray”!! I love it!! Those foreigners might not understand the way Thai people use “toilet spray.”
Just think about it, if you accidentally step on dog poop with your bare foot, will you use tissue paper or wash it out with water? Wash it out, right? Yes, exactly! Same as Thai people, if you get dirty, you have to wash it out with water. Otherwise, you will feel like there something there all day long.

From my experience, the room here is charming and neat. There were 5 beds. You can take the full rest. Also, the restroom was immaculate. (I am so sorry that my photo shooting has gone that moment. I was so tired, and I forgot to snap our room).

Okay, I’m over with the room and the sprays in the bathroom. I put my stuff down and even though the bed told me to lay down and get some sleep. I have to ignore it and go to the great pagoda.

Bodh Gaya people

On the way to the great pagoda, I saw the local way of life here. The main road is a dusty old road and full of traders along the way. If you want to buy something, just dust it off a little bit. Then it’s good enough.

Let’s start with a ‘barber,’ the arrange a pop-up shop outdoor, you can see them chilling by the street. The packaging they used is reuse according to the 3R principle. (reduce, reuse, recycle. they use all the 3R together) Every bottle container could be reused. Even a toilet washer liquid container could be used to contain hair spray. 

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Everyone here has their skill in putting the stuff on their head. Especially, those girls. Do not underestimate them. They got their way to do it. They said it’s better than carrying.

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Pani Puri is Indian food.
It is a hollow crust of crushed flour. When you eat it, you have to put your thumb in to make a hole. Then put the sauce in the hole before eating. (The sauce consists of potatoes, beans, chickpeas, onions, tamarind juice and so on, depending on the recipe). I did not try it because I saw him put his thumb in and I did not brave enough to eat. Ps. Looks like I was caught taking photos.

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Indian Souvenir

There were souvenirs along the walking way such as bracelets and rings. I bought the hairpin. Ps. The ring below was purchased from Kolkata. I like it. It’s cute. When I went to Leh Ladakh, it was twice as expensive. We could also make a bargain here!
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“MANI KOLO”
is a gift with its funny history. I bought it, and it’s quite useless for me. Haha, not recommended to buy as a souvenir but you could buy it for yourself. I saw it while Tibetan people praying, then they rotate it, but with the big one. I came out and found a tiny little one, and then I bought it. We spin it in the coffee shop (for surfing the internet with their free wifi), and a Tibetan monk saw it. He told us it is called ‘Mani Colo.’

It is Prayer wheels or a Tibetan prayer tools. It’s for making a spin during your prey. Inside, there is a sign or chant that reads ‘Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ’ written on a long sheet of curled paper, wrapped up together. In conclusion, “It is a buoyancy in prayer itself.” See? This is so cool!  We just pray and spin Mani Colo, which has 3,000 chapters. You roll in the first round, that is, we prayed to 3001 and then turn four rounds, we pray to 12,001 chapters! This invention was created before Steve Jobs invented the computer. What a smart!

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The Goat as a Pet

I walked down the street and saw a lot of people walking their goat as a pet. They don’t pet a dog here because it could not be eaten. Hahaha.

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Colour-Block Style

Indian girls love to put on colorful saris, especially children. The are allowed to wear two pieces. So, their mom enjoys putting the clothes on their kids with contrasting color. If you turn around unprepared, you may be blind, yellow – pink, blue – orange. Trend Color-block might have the inspiration from Indian. The dressing skill of people here is excellent. Not just women. I can see from far away here. Their favorite and most often seen is red and pink. Someone who wears another color would wear a little red and pink items too.

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Next, the content will be about the history of Buddhism as the main content.

Bodh Gaya (Mahabodhi Temple)

Place of Buddhas Enlightenment

Bodh Gaya or Buddhist temples, or the Mahabodhi temple has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in Gaya, Bihar, India. Far out to the west of the Neranchara River 350 meters *(still remember? Neranchara river is where the Buddha brought the tray of holy rice from Suchada and floated it for a gulp that if he achieves attainment of the mantra, the tray will float upstream and the trays have flowed upstream follows his prey.)

**4 steps of Bodh Gaya’s history **
~ In the 3rd year Buddhism, Bodh Gaya was built and maintained. (In Ashoka King age)
~ The 17th century(CE Year or 12th BE Year), it was destroyed by the invading Muslim army and abandoned since that time. (Damaged by Muslim Army)
~ 1590, it was conquered by Hindu and tried to change to a Hindu temple. (Dominated by Hindu priests)
~ In 1874, the Burmese king came to restore some parts (Restored by King Mindon Min)

4 important things in Bodh Gaya
There are four main points to remember as, Maha Pho Pagoda, Buddhist mercy inside the pagoda, the observatory and the Sri Mahabodhi tree.

Before getting in, you have to leave your camera outside. But if you would like to take it in, you have to pay the fee for 100 Rupees. The mobile phone is strictly prohibited. You have to keep it only outside the temple. It’s a security policy here to prevent interruptions in this holy place. The shoes are recommended to put in a plastic bag and put the bag in your backpack otherwise it could be lost especially Nike and Adidas.

Mahabodhi Pagoda

is a rectangular pagoda about 51 meters high, with two layers The lower layer is where The Mercy Buddha is located and it is the place to make a worship. The second floor is a room to prayers.

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Buddha Metta (The Mercy Buddha)

is a statue as the represent of the Buddha at the time he beat the demons and achieve the Dharma.

As they said

The Mercy Buddha is a Buddha who survived the destruction of the King Sasangka (the Hindu king), about 1,400 years old. Lord Sasangka did not want to be under the rule of Bihar. So he put the war in Bodh Gaya, which is the heart of Buddhist at that time and ordered to burn down both the Bodhi tree and the Buddha. This destruction was ordered to cut off the tree branches, all roots, no matter where they go and burn down them all. But the steward ordered to destroy the mercy Buddha had his faith in the Buddha. Therefore, he ordered his workman to build the wall to cover the Buddha and build an altar at that position instead. When the steward hid it. He told his king that he has already destroyed the Buddha. King Sasangka listened instead of glad, he regretted so much that the blood flowing out his nose and mouth and then he died at that place on the 7th day since he ordered to burn it.

In this place, people often visit and pray or meditate but less than the outside because of the small and narrow room. When the group of tourists takes a visit, the room will be very crowded. So Monsignor or the staff will not allow them to sit for a long time. Most people will bring robes as an offering to the Buddha. Monsignor will take it and change it for the Buddha.(See Figure 2, you can see them changing the robe for the Buddha.) The fabric used must be 3 pieces of the robe, and the robe is usually clear fabric pattern. The beauty of robe will emphasize on the left shoulder robe. Some of them are thin gold lace embroidered with sparkly jewelry along with the background behind. This is gorgeous and charming.

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The Bodhi tree 

Phra Sri Mahabodhi and the Observatory

This is not the original tree from the origin of the Buddha on that day. This is the fourth tree represent the original tree from the buds of the original tree.
The first tree is call Nation tree, which is created on the same day that the Buddha was born at 352 years ago, was destroyed by the King Ashoka’s wife because of the jealousy that King Ashoka take care of this tree more than her.
The second tree powered by Ashoka from the bud of the original tree, which is almost 900 years old, destroyed by the god Sasangka, as described above.
The third one powered by King Puronworama. He came to India and declared war with King Sasangka. Then he planted the tree bud, which is 1,278 years old.
It is said to have fallen by its lifespan when India was the British colony.
The fourth one is The current tree, powered by General Sir Alexander Cunningham. He brought three buds and planted them behind the pagoda.

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When I went there, the sun is not that hot, and the wind blows through the tree and pagoda. Strangely that I stood under the tree, I felt so calm and peaceful. The Bodhi tree branches shade the shadow for people praying to worship the Buddha. It is recommended to prepare the psalms to yourself. In case you don’t want to make a prey, you could walk around in a calm.

The observatory will be under the Bodhi tree, surrounded by a wall. Most people will get their foreheads and lean it against the wall and close their eyes. Then intentionally pray with a calm mind. This place is full of power, faith, belief, calmness and coolness of the wind. The marble floors and shadow from Bodhi trees allow us to sit here for days.

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The Faith

There was no division or races here. Everyone comes here with same faith. Some people make a prey, some make a meditation. Some people walk. Some people read the principles. Some people sit still under the branches of the Bodhi tree like the are thinking about something in their peaceful mind.

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The Tibetan Zone

Back to the Tibetan monks zone. When they make a prey, they would have a musical instrument such as a tool that gives its sound like a flute and a batter like a drum machine. Listening to the prey and the harmony of the instrument could make you a calm mind as well. The picture below is a shot that we love so much. A little boy, Lama, turn to see us take a snapshot and smile. I do want to tell a story about Lama for a little more, but we will keep up at last. 

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The Thai monk zone

Thai monk will be in another zone, which is divided the area because of the difference of ritual and psalms.Tibetan priests will arrange their ceremony during the day and Thais will do it in night time instead. At that night, we went there for a peaceful walk. We heard Thai monks pray together in unison. The hymn is very harmony. We knew some of the Psalms translation. It is not that difficult to understand. I think that even you don’t know what they say, but you will definitely feel something for sure. Now, its end of euphoria part. Next part, we will take about the view and other things.

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Other zone

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Local Market

Local Market – there were fried Pastries of India, fried chicken, which is just put close to your mouth, you could feel the spice in it.

And the taste is what I expected. It’s full of spices, a lot of spices. If you stay in India for a month, and you don’t have spice smell from your body. That could not be true.

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Until the end

In India, people here will use their shoes till its lifetime. If your shoes are broken then repair it again and again until it can not be repaired. (Do not choose to steal the shoes from the temple Mahapho, like our brother got stolen from.) There is a local shoe repair shop that when we turn the camera to them, the hold two fingers up and smile as general Indian people. Oh, I love it! The country that people not afraid of the camera or make an angry face when we take photos. Sometimes, they call us to take their pictures!

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/ Thai Temple is about 500 meters away from the Mahabodhi Temple, so we traveled by Rickshaw for about 5 or 10 baht only. Love it ~

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Japanese Temple

Japan is another country that has come here to build a monastery since the Indian government invites them. They created a large Japanese Buddhist style, facing to the east. In the temple, there are many religious figures of religious persons such as Arnon and Asachi monk. When we arrived there, it was almost the sunset time. Looking from the front of the temple gave us a beautiful scene to remember.

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Indian children

After we finished praying at the temple, it was about to close.

“Maharaja Maharajah.”

We heard something, and we look around to find the origin of the voice. We saw a group of Indian children gathered together and sit down at the temple exit. You might hear that if you give one of them some money, you must give the money to the rest too. Actually, that’s not that scary. They will call you “Maharajah, Maharaja.” I have never felt this great before. My friends took the candy that was prepared and give tit to them. They smiled at us as a return.We played together for a while time, and we felt they were cute and happy. But, you know, getting them off is not that easy. No matter where you go, they will follow you. It’s like a hen with her little chickens. We got to the Rick Shaw, they still followed us. Well, it took a while to get them off. By the way, thank you for your smile.

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Let’s go back, we’ll miss the train!
This is a restaurant in front of the Thai Buddhist temple and the seniors who came here to help us and take care of us on a late-night tour and tell us the history. Before leaving, we offered some money to the temple as the capital factor because this place is free to sleep and eat. If you would like to visit here, please kindly leave some money for the electric or piped water fee. That would be great.

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We took too long to get out from the place we stayed. It’s quite late for the train. We caught the Autobus to the train station and told the driver to hurry up. I have to say thank you to Pop that he could communicate with the driver.

Baiya Jaro Jaro!!”

Which means  “Bro!! Hurry up!!!”.  I heard this from Pop until I remembered it. I have to practice my accent more to express my feeling. Pop told me that if we could not suppress them, they would suppress us instead. If Pop wouldn’t be on this trip, we might get cheated so many times. I understand that my skill is not enough for it. Fortunately, we got Pop to help us. I couldn’t imagine the situation without him.

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Thank you for your smile.

If you want someone to smile at you, you just turn your camera to them. They will become a model for you instantly. Thanks to many people who made us smile and bring the good memory to us. Bye Bye, Bodh Gaya.

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Let’s finish this article with a little entertainment. (If there any inappropriate language, which bad words, please forgive us. This is actually a scanned version out of the notebooks.)

LAMA

According to Wikipedia, they are a spiritual teacher.Their inside outfit is like a sleeveless shirt showing the arm muscles. Their robe is in brick red color and the outer fabric is yellow, orange or red as well. At the period of the ritual, a little boy, Lama, wore the red brick cloth. The Lama whose are a little older wore orange-yellow and have a good body shaped. Even they get old age, they still got a good shape. No one is fat or overweight. When we got close to where they stay, we knew why they are so strong, We saw them bow their head so many times, like the get all parts of their body down on the floor while they worship. Standing upright, kneeling and down to the front and come up to kneel and then stand up and repeat all again and again. Their muscle must be so strong. One more thing, Lama could enjoy sports such as Football (Soccer), which they really enjoy it.

Lamas are very playful. When we turned the camera to them, they did their act all the time. As shown below, this is taken at the front entrance. There is a bus of Tibetan monk driving in. We were taking a photo of the Lama sitting on the roof of the car. Then he saw our camera, he suddenly waved his hands to us. Then they all laugh happily. It was a good moment for us.

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Before we got out, we saw this Lama closing his eyes and praying along the side of the pathway to the outside.

I took the camera out and snap a shot. He opened his eyes. His face looks scary to me. I apologized him and rushed out but he called me, and I walked in with a little surprise. He took something out of the book, which is opened in front of him. It is the leaves of the Bodhi Tree. Then he handed it out with a smiley face. We said thank you and walk out surprisingly and a big smile. I keep that leaf and put it in the notebook. Until now, it’s still there. Thank you very much:)

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Well, that’s our journey to Bodh Gaya. I am very happy to be here. It’s like I get my life a bit slow down. I would love to meditate a little bit more, but I have to leave. The next city that I will experience is a completely different from this city. Everything is fast and very chaotic. There, the time would be faster. Varanasi, the city of gorgeous river 🙂

Please continue reading part3 @http://mithuna27.com/th/fall-for-ganga-river-varanasi/


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First time in INDIA | Incredible INDIA


## PART I

(Kolkata  & Santiniketan)

I.I  “Woohoo! Kolkata, India, here I come!”

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Why­­ India?

“For me, traveling recharges my spirit. Taking a trip can also heal what ails my heart and makes me tired.”

I’m not exaggerating here. Give it a try and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
On days when you feel like dying, like your spirit’s gone and you don’t feel like doing anything, taking a trip somewhere to see the wide world can restore your sanity. It’s like adding recharging your mental battery. I’ve found that I really like one kind of feeling: The one that awakens every cell in my body and makes my spirits soar. The things that can give you that kind of feeling are love and traveling

And what place could be better than India? The variety, lifestyles, beliefs and livelihoods…. Let’s just say you’re sure to see things you never expected. I’d like to go to the Holi festival, go and throw paint at some real live Indian people. I’d like to touch the waters of the Ganges River. I want to pat the heads of cows sleeping on the ground. I want to go and be among the Indians. I want to experience the cradle of Buddhism. I want to know how wide the India I watched on the Discovery Channel as a kid will open my eyes and introduce me to new feelings.

You could say this is my debut trip. Once I got to India, my tourism attitude changed. I wanted to know more about how people live and their culture. I wanted to know about the world, where everything is, and I wanted to learn more about people’s habits rather than just their smiles.

To sum it up, after this trip, I can give you the abbreviated version now about how it was exciting, challenging, scary, undeveloped, breath-taking and warm-hearted all at once. Those of you who haven’t got the courage to go in person can follow me in my letters as I take you on a tour of India myself. We’re off!

And so it begins…

“Three of us went there,” and, “We didn’t know each other.”

When this all started, I was already planning a trip to India with my friends at the advertisement agency. We planned to go in time for the Holi festival. But then our gang fell apart, and the trip was canceled. I couldn’t do anything but lie down, stare at the ceiling and think to myself,

“I’m really not going?”

“(Sighs) They really cut our budget after I’ve been dreaming about this for half a year?”

It was even worse than a movie with a twist in the plot when the prince stumbles on a sidewalk and dies as he’s running to kiss the princess…It was absolutely ridiculous.

“No. I’m not going to accept such a pathetic ending.”

“I could go. I can go alone. I’ve been on trips by myself before. But this time, I’m taking it to the next level.”
So I turned on my computer. As I searched, I found headlines like “Foreigner Murdered and Raped on a Bus in India”. That’s when I said “Nope. No, I’m not going alone. I’ve gotta find someone to go with me. I’ve got to call a friend; some friends. And it should be easy to find someone to go to India with me. It’ll be like going to Singapore. They’ll come along…” (sarcastically)
Me: “Hey, I’m calling to see if you’d like to take a trip to throw some color powders. It’s a country where you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The budget shouldn’t be more than 400$.”

Friend: “Where is it, Por? Sounds interesting.”

Me: “India.”

Friend: “Nah, you can go alone…”

What? What’s wrong with India? Why do you only like to look at the surface of things? It’s not as scary as you think (Yeah?). No matter who I called, the answer was the same. Some of them even brought up scary topics to shoot me down.

And I thought, if someone is gonna make it to India, S/he’s really got to want it. People who wish to go to India are the one that already have the determination not just a persuasion like this. There’s gotta be somebody in today’s world who already wants to go. Since was already in front of the computer, I posted to the online community. I figured I’d keep posting until I found someone. Please, please, let me find someone who really wants to go.

One night went by…then there was a message to me. That was the beginning of our acquaintance to this day. Thank you for everything that helped us get to know each other that day.

Fellow Travelers

In the end, I had two other people on the trip. One was named Pae. He had just graduated from Thammasat. The other was Pop, an exchange student in India. Pae met Pop by IG Hashtag and I met Pae on the online community. So, we had never known each other before, never seen each other and never met before. I only knew that it was okay to trust them because I asked our mutual friends. They looked like good enough people. Then we got to the two-week mark. We needed to get ready!!

KICK OUT

We flew on a jet and landed in Kolkata. Just being on the plane gave me a complete feeling of India. I’d never had to be among so many Indian people like this. The smell was beyond description, very fragrant! They like to press the button and call the air hostesses for this and that all the time. Whoever that sitting near an Indian who liked to push the button would have to put up with it. Just say, “One more for me, please,” if they’re asking for something you already want like water or Coke. It was good not to have to call the air hostess myself. Thanks, hehe.

After three hours on the plane, we found ourselves waiting for the bags for over an hour. I was asleep for half the trip. Indians like to bring stuff from Thailand like clothes and electrical appliances. Then they open the bags to check the items right on the spot. Things were scattered everywhere. So you’ll have to wait and think about it as an ice-breaking activity with Indians.

*I have to say I waited until I was starting to smell like in Indian. It was a long time. And I wanted to see the city outside >.<DSCF4807-2 DSCF4809-2

The cars here are classics. I like that.

Taxis don’t need to have windows because you wouldn’t get to use them, even if they were there. The taxis usually don’t have air conditioning. So, we had to open the windows to let the air in. But don’t stick your head out because they drive very closely together in India. They drive like they’re playing a game.

Amazing race

I noticed the taxis usually don’t have side mirrors. I don’t know if it’s because they probably wouldn’t use them even if they had them or if they took them off for convenience when they drive only two centimeters apart. It was an entirely new experience. I challenge people who are risk takers and want to spend their life insurance quickly to sit on a car here and tell them “as fast as you can”. I guarantee the experience (and a percentage of using the life insurance).

Very Awesome
Our first feeling when the taxi drove out of the airport and we see the reality that we have to face is being very satisfied with our lives so that I had to risk my life by sticking my head outside the car and shouted out loud to the city:

“Awesome!!!!!”

Once we had left the airport, it was like we had warped to another planet. We had a real culture shock. It was like, ‘This is what I wanted!’
“You wanted to see this? You were afraid of coming? Well, here you are!” That feeling of complete difference and new feelings with a new culture was totally awesome!!!

Not As Scary As I Thought

I looked at both sides of the road, kept noticing that people here seem to like tourists. Almost every one of them said, “Hello” to us. Okay, this isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

I was very alert. I kept smiling and calling out greetings. It was like I was Miss World Peace!
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Please blow a horn

The first thing that will remind you of India when you get back is “the horns”,

For the easily annoyed, be careful of becoming psychotic, lol. They use their horns here like there is a Loudest honk award! It would be strange for someone from here to not use a horn. If anything happens, you’d be cursed with the words, “Why didn’t you blow your horn?” The horns are the God of Traffic. You don’t have to know the traffic rules much. If you can blow a horn, you can drive (just kidding).
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My Quest

Another thing I did on the trip is taking snap shots of people urinating or defecating at the street-side (seems kind of low to take those pictures, lol). Don’t forget to look at the scenery on both sides of the road to see how people live. If you go and you don’t see people urinating or defecating, you’re not there yet. Like I said before, India is a country where:

“Anything can happen at the roadside like crapping, peeing, selling stuff, hanging laundry, slaughtering chickens or even dying…”

A Brief Summary of Indians

Indians are nice. They’re very Indy and extremely independent.

They pee when they like, poo when they want and scratch when they itch. And they go back to making rotis after all that (I just found out it’s true today). Do what you want to do!!!
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Everything is on their heads

In India, suitcases are not for pulling. Indians carry everything on their heads from kitchen utensils to suitcases! 
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Let’s go on and get to know Kali.

“Dakshineswar Kali Temple”

If it’s not dark when you get off your plane, head straight for the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. It won’t take long. The temple is near the airport on the banks of the Hooghly River. It is a reddish cream-colored temple, because that is Kali’s favorite color. The temple roof has nine spires. It’s striking!

PS Be careful you don’t go to the wrong place because they have two temples to Kali here. The other temple is far from the airport and not next to a river. If you go to the wrong temple, you’ll find it scary. They slaughter cattle and sheep as sacrifices to Kali. The atmosphere’s really ominous. We went to the wrong place and got a shock. If you want to go through what we did, you’re welcome to go there (be careful of the wide assortment of criminals).
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The temple is surrounded by twelve temples for worshiping Shiva, Lakshmi and Vishnu. Don’t forget to buy offerings for Kali at the kiosk outside and ring the small bells to ask for a blessing from Shiva.

They don’t let you wear shoes inside. So take off your shoes in the shoe kiosk. Don’t just leave the shoes around. They will go missing. If you go before 5:30 p.m., you’ll have enough light. After that, the light isn’t good for taking pictures.

We went when the light was just about gone, because we had a cab driver who wouldn’t take the highway when we asked him to. And once we got there, the guard was picky about our shoes, so the light was gone and we laughed with tears in our eyes T^T. But we were satisfied overall-maybe even more than we were by all the tranquility of the entire city.DSCF6838

Let’s go for a walk.

“Sudder Street & Park Street.”

Anyone who forgets to exchange money beforehand can do so here. (for a better rate too)

There are TONS of homeless people here, even more than in San Francisco. If you don’t have change, don’t make eye contact. Just walk quietly. Coming here gave us a lot to think about. I felt a lot more subdued. You’d have to come to see and feel it for yourself to know what I’m talking about.DSCF4882

L I F E

DSCF4896 DSCF4949 DSCF4905-2This is just what you see through my camera lens.
I saw them with my own eyes. Just imagine how I feel…

STORE

Stores are small shops, like vendor stalls.
If it’s a building, it will usually be drilled into a rectangular block that isn’t much different from a booth.
They have only one floor and one front entrance. They don’t have doors connecting to other rooms.
If you want to go to the bathroom, you will have to cross where they sell things.
Some buildings have multiple floors but they do this by drilling a square hole in the ceiling and climbing up and down with rope ladders. They’re space-saving experts.
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Indians still commonly use ground water. DSCF4942

Use your hand, baby!

Some of the places where they eat by the road are like this.
Their spoons are slightly smaller than ours. And in some places, they use their hands–not just the person eating but the person who serves the food, too! They use their hands to give out rice, meat in curry and food.
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Who says Indian cuisine isn’t good? I’ll back this up. It’s excellent. You just have to eat from the right menu and restaurant (that’s the hard part).

  • Don’t forget to pick a restaurant that doesn’t look squalid. I recommend this place. It’s called “Blue Sky.”DSCF4920

The food you won’t forget!

For food menus, we like this one a lot. It’s called
“Chicken Butter” or **“Chicken Burtar” **in some restaurants. It looks and tastes is almost not the same in each restaurant.
You eat them with “Nans” (similar to Rotis, but they’re softer and thicker), and you can eat them instead of rice. It’s excellent. You’ve got to give it a try. They’ve Butter Nans, Cheese Nans, Garlic Nans
“Chicken butter masala” (masala is the spice powder) is also great.
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Indian “Chicken Biryani”.

We’re at a place called Arsalan. This restaurant is famous and has received numerous awards. It’s on Sudder Street. They don’t have just one branch. They have several branches. The rice here is long and thin. They don’t stick together. They’re very enjoyable and tasty to eat.

  • Sorry the photos do not look very appetizing. Haha. But they taste really good. You’ve got to try it out.DSCF6586

At our country, we drink cold tea. Here, the weather is very hot, and they still drink hot tea. DSCF6549

Original roti making! There’s some for you to sample. Guess if I dared to…?
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Mc. Veggie is scrumptious.
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Indian Congee

They dared me to try it. I tried it out. I wasn’t afraid (really?) (Actually, I didn’t know what was. But it tasted like congee, and the way they made it when they dished it up and sprinkled it with something, it looked very much like congee). I don’t know how they cut the meat into my bowl, but I saw the person tearing meat into the next person’s bowl with his hands… Hmm, it’s probably good that I only tasted from the tip of the spoon…
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MOMO

It’s very similar to dumplings. I don’t know if they’re the same kind. In Thailand and China that the dumplings are moist, and you will have soup when you bite into them. The dumplings here are dry and only have the fillings. They’re sold everywhere. As far as I’m concerned, Thai and Chinese dumplings are better.
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Peter Cat.

This restaurant is famous.
There’s always a waiting line. Most of them come here for their Indian-style steaks.
You could try it out if you pass by.DSCF6898

Holi Festival

Get ready to play Holi.1979663_613222332092538_1155841931_n-2
This is the day after playing Holi in Kolkata.
See? You can’t wash it off. It’ll be another week before they come off. I can tell you that his face looks a lot like how he felt. Ha!
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Westerners who come to play Holi here.

  • Remember, Kolkata is usually not like other places when it comes to festival days. Check about the day they stop playing before you come.
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Rickshaw

Riding a rickshaw at night.
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The smile of Indian.

I asked him to show two fingers. He looked shy, and it looked like he didn’t know how. Hehe. cute.
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P.S.– Before using any services, make an explicit agreement about the price before hurting feelings arise later. I can’t say enough about this because they like to charge extra or won’t charge the same price they told you in the beginning. It’s like this wherever you go. The hearts, generosity, and selfishness change based on their living conditions. When they have to survive in difficult living conditions, it’s not so surprising that they want more in every way than people who have good living conditions. We just have to understand and keep tabs on the situation 🙂

“Victoria Memorial”

You can take a car to the Victoria Memorial nearby. It’s a British victory monument. I recommend going before five and taking a picture from the back where there’s a pool. It looks exquisite when you take the picture where you can see the reflection, too. Unfortunately, the light was gone when we arrived, so our photo isn’t very good.DSCF4957 DSCF4987 DSCF5005 DSCF4982

Mother Teresa’s Tomb

Next, let’s move on to Mother Teresa’s Tomb.

A woman who was accepted and admired as a citizen of the country in an era when India had no acceptance for women, Mother Teresa helped many Indians escape suffering by leading them to God. Anyone who’s not into this doesn’t have to come. However, whoever is into this kind of thing and comes here will feel good about what Mother Teresa did and about the power of giving. Really 🙂
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[

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ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
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Part I.II

“Santiniketan – A Place for Education Under the Trees”

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Santiniketan means a city of peace.
Personally, I didn’t think there wasn’t much to this town (or maybe I wasn’t able to reach this place. I didn’t feel “in” with it T-T).

Anyone who knows and admires Robindronath Thakur, the epic poet was known as “the Bard of Bengal” who built this “Visva Bharati” college and was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, would love this place.

Personally, I’m not a very artistic person, so I thought this might not be my kind of place. But since my friends wanted to come, it was good to try it out once. At first, we were going to stay for one night, but we changed our plans into a one-day trip (one day is more than enough). We went on the local train because we hadn’t made any reservations.

Let’s start!

We left Kolkata by taxi over the Howrah bridge built by the British Empire over a hundred years ago and headed to the local train station, which is near the bridge.
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The Local Train

We’re here! We’re going to try the local train. It’s pretty exciting. Haha.

At this station, the Top Nose has a slight chicken feces odor, the Middle Nose is mixed with a hint of Indian and the Base Nose is an ultra strong scent of urea. It was a good thing I brought my menthol inhalant. I should have brought it to block my nose T-T. We didn’t book tickets before we came, so we bought tickets from the counter at 70 rupees (~1$). We would’ve mostly ended up in a very crowded wagon with people standing. But luck was with us, and we got a cart with seats just like on buses.
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On the Local Train
DSCF6697uu1-2 DSCF6684Keep your change ready. Every kind of beggar you’ve ever seen in all corners of the world will walk by you…at least three of them at each station. Just give them ten or twenty rupees. It would be too Thai to pretend to sleep. lol.

Indian lady boys

They’ve got more of them than every other type of beggar. Even the poorest beggars don’t earn half what they do. Why? It’s because they will whine and curse you if you ignore them. All the other Indians were downright afraid of them. All they have to do is walk by, and they pull out their money fast enough! They get ten bills from every row in the front to the back of the train; I tell you! Pretending to sleep may not help you escape their curse. Sometimes they even wake you up to curse at you. lol. It’s not just on trains. They will walk up to you and ask you for money even at crossroads. If you give them money, they will give you a blessing and touch your forehead with the money. It felt strangely mystical…Get those small bills ready, people (only bills. Be prepared to be cursed at if you give coins. It’s so difficult to please these beautiful ladies. haha).
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The Indian Bean

Indians and beans go together (I don’t know what they call them. I do know that they mix them with honey and stir them. Great!). Indians like their beans. For us, we just look at them and go “Oooh!” We’re not brave enough. Haha.DSCF6682 DSCF6680

Welcome to Santiniketan

We’re here. It’s an Artistic town, “Santiniketan”.
So very Q U I E T… Probably why they call it “Santi” (peace)…
We took a rickshaw ride to see the town
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It was pleasantly quiet without any horns. Oh, it’s just not like India without the horns…
We don’t understand why there are tours here that charge high-end prices!
If you don’t think about giving up everything, don’t bother coming here, please.

(But if someone comes and likes it, you can always change places with me. I want to know because not everyone will have the same idea)
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All the nerds come to this Indy town where they can do what they want.
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I tried out almost every food here. But “tried out” really meant I just tasted the spoon tip.
Because I didn’t get vaccinations before I came.
That’s why I have to be a little careful if I’m thinking about eating anything.
(This tasted like regular sweetened powdered milk.)
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It Started Under The Tree

Teaching under trees is a unique feature of this place in remembrance of Robindronath Thakur because “Visva Bharati” was created when Robindronath Thakur began teaching five students under a large tree. Since then, a great place of learning was established in this city of peace.

A college without signs or uniforms.

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In this Indy town, they ride original fix gears, raise goats as pets and eat them once they’re fat.
They eat yogurt out of earthenware cups and listen to very moving Indian songs.
They are already as Artist as they can be without trying to grow cactus, listening to Desktop Error or reading Kinfolk.

Any Art student is welcome to challenge their inner artist here.
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That Indian guy is telling us something with his eyes, haha.
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I asked him for a ride. The old geezer (senior) who rode it here didn’t trust me and ran after me. He clapped his hands for me once I showed him, hehe.

Time to say Goodbye!

We waited for the train at the station. Bye, bye, artist town.
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Let’s go back.

The local train…please let this be the last time in my life. My life felt like everything was a hardship. It wasn’t so bad on the way here. I got to sit then. I barely got to sit on the way back, and I found a cockroach. I barely escaped from it. I screamed and ran from the cockroach until all the Indians in the bogey wondered what was going on. They had a good laugh.

P.S.-  Then an Indian man grabbed the cockroach with his bare hands and threw it off the train. Ew! Thank you very much.
mithuna27 in india

Hard sale!

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This Indian made everyone laugh because of his adorable hard sale. We don’t know what he said but we knew it was so funny that we wanted to know. 555.

P.S. – He still could make 15% of what that lady boy beggar made. I swear it!

That’s it for the Santiniketan trip. A grueling 3-hour ride just to go there for two hours and get back…what for…but it cost only 5$ to go there and back, so let’s stop complaining. Haha.

Noted

You should go on the weekend because they’ll have field fairs selling some cool handicrafts you can buy as souvenirs. Really cute. We didn’t see any of it because we didn’t go there on the weekend.

*We don’t recommend anyone without a specific purpose to come here.
*However, someone who is impressed by the ways and educational energy of Robindronath should come and stay here for a few days to take it all in and talk with the students here.
*Whoever wants to feel “in” with this place should read a lot about his background. He is not an ordinary person; I assure you.

Anyone who is “in” with the feeling should be happy here. It felt very calm, peaceful and warm 🙂

Unforgettable Souvenir

The “Kamasutra” is on the shelves of almost every bookshop in Kolkata, even the small ones on the road! If you dare to ask for it, they dare to pick it out for you. They’re serious about it in this country! A recommended souvenir for your friends with a sense of humor! Excellent!
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And now we move on to more usual souvenirs for regular people.
Regular souvenirs that sell well here are Indians shirts and pants.
Shops that sell knickknacks will also sell rings and wristbands. It’s cute if you make the right choices.
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Next Station Bodh Gaya

That’s it for Kolkata. Bye.

Next stop, Bodh Gaya. We will go on a pilgrimage.

Now. Okay. Tonight, we’re getting ready to go to Bodh Gaya, the city where Buddha was enlightened.
We have to board a train at about 10:30 p.m.

The train station is beyond description. Imagine Hua Lamphong in the past when everyone was lazing around all over the floor. There’s dust outside and inside the station. First class rooms mean waiting for trains here with nearly no air to breath. It’s really stale.

People were lying around all over the place. It’s pure and unadulterated India. Foul and depressing. We thought we wouldn’t be there very long, but the train was late. We had to sit and wait for hours, and we were sleepy. If you ask if we dared to sleep there, I’ll tell you that…we did and a very deep one. (took excellent care of ourselves, did we?). Well, at least, we didn’t all sleep at the same time. We took turns to keep watch.

Finally, We Board the Train

The way up actually had chains, whips, handcuffs and candle for sale (Just kidding. Only keys and chains) so you can lock and chain your bags to prevent them from going missing while you sleep. I looked around and noticed some of the passengers had their own locks and chains. If the locals have it, we’d be challenging the host too much. Haha.DSCF5048

We looked for our bogeys. Pop had the same bogey as Pae because they booked it at the same time. I booked mine later, so I had a different Bogey. But Pop went to sleep in the other bogey instead and said I’m a woman, and I should not sleep alone T-T. It was touching. Very cute. Thanks. Okay, I’m going to sleep. I’m exhausted. See you later in Bodh Gaya.

Good night~
travel in india alone

Please continue reading part2 @http://mithuna27.com/bodh-gaya/


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