Suddenly november arrived and even here in Jaipur you can finally feel a change in the weather. The mornings as well as the evenings have started to be chilly and dark but once the sun is up, the sweat is dripping again. Still you feel that the summer is slowly saying goodbye and I am looking forward to the new season, 4 months with heat made me appreciate the cold. Acctually I can't wait to wear cozy sweaters and thick socks while drinking some hot chai.
Another thing november brought was a new trip, this time to Haridwar and Rishikesh, two cities by the Ganges in northern India.
Tuesday 4. November
Tuesday morning we arrived at the train station in Haridwar, afer a quite short train ride. Just 13 hours but a night without sleep makes you feel like a zombie. I had been really unlucky with my seat neighbours. We can just say that there is no use in getting upset and angry, you just need to accept the fact that privacy is defined differently here.
But enough of that, the fresh and cold air that met us outside the train blew some of the tiredness away and we realized how quiet the city was. A nice and welcomed thing. Our hotel was hidden in one of the narrow streets, not far away from the Ganges our destiny for the evening. Until then we just recovered and after tea time we left, walking through the city. The whole way was one gigantic bazaar filled with all kind of stores. Since the climate is a tick colder here, many already started selling winter clothes and quite a few people were completely dressed up with thick jackets, scarfs and boots while I actually enjoyed the temperature wearing a t-shirt.
As we reached the end of the market we could finally spot the Ganges. Walking along the river promenade we ended up in an even bigger crowd than in the market. Apparently we were supposed to witness the daily holy ceremony the Hindus have here in Hardiwar. But because we came right before it started we ended up standig at the outskirts of the crowd not knowing what was going on and aiming after the people in front of us. Judging by the little we saw, the ceremony looked a bit like in Varanasi. Returning back home, we stopped by some street food sellers eating some really good food.
Babu had surprisingly much energy left, maybe because we carried him all day long, and did really scared us when he managed to run into a bicycle-rikshaw. He started crying badly and got a cut over his eyebrow. Luckily the people here are super nice and in a restaurant he was pampered up again and just five minutes later the old him was back charming everybody with his personality.
Wednesday 5. November
Today it was time for sightseeing in Haridwar. After eating breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we drove to the outskirts of the city, into the hills. Here, after waiting several hours in line, we took a lift to a mountaintop to see a temple. The ride was nice and the view over the city, the hills and the Ganges stunning but way to short in comparison to the time we spent in a queue.
On top we had to wait once again and were pushed and pressed at from all angles. Moving in to the temple, people almost fought in order to see something. I couldn't exactely feel any holy spirit there but for the Indians it was kind of a big deal to be there. As we moved out, we rushed all the way back to find some place to eat lunch and ended up in a quite shady restaurant. But something we found out is that the shadier and more dirty the place, the better the food. Strange but true. Last up was another temple and another place. The procedure here was the same, the ambience was just nicer and on top we skipped the crowded temple and instead walked around enjoying the view and taking picures of the monkeys.
Back in the car we drove to Rishikesh, the neighbor town one hour away. In the evening we arrived at our stay for the night, an Ashram. It looked very nice and all the people were very welcoming and nice. Tired of the day and looking forward to a morning yoga lesson we all went to bed early.
Thursday 6. November
After a surprisingly cold night in our simple room in the Ashram, Emma and me met one of the yoga teachers to have an one hour session. The location was the top part of the round building which had carpet floor, yoga mats and a small «alter» place. The one hour flew by fast, the teacher was good and so flexible but I am still waiting for a real yoga experience. After breakfast we suddenly changed our plan for the day and spontanously went to a bungee jumping place (don't be scared I didn't do it). Just the ride there was scary enough, bumps and humps every second and the road so narrow and close to the edge of the cliffs. As we got there I was way to scared to do the bungee jumping so Julie and me stuck to Asia's longest rope way while the rest of the group dared to jump. The ropeway was so much fun, a bit scary in the beginning but after it was over you wanted to do it all over again just because of the view you had hanging over a hundred meters over the ground.
With the adrenaline still in the blood we continued the day with extreme sport, namely rafting on the Ganges. Fully dressed up with wetsuits, jackets, helmets and wests we were ready for the 9 km long ride. The current was very strong and everybody was splashed over with water in the rafts. In between you also had parts with quiet water where we could take a swim and oh my god the water was cold but so clear and blue. The scenery was stunning; high mountains, big rocks, green forest where could see the monkeys climbing in the trees and an amazing red-glowing sun that set behind the horizon.
Back on land Sangeeta surprised us with a night's stay at an outdoor camp at the banks of the river. Not expecting that much because you never have expectations in India since you will get disappointed often, we arrived and couldn't stop telling Sangeeta what a great idea she had. The camp was amazing with new tents, super comfortable beds, delicious food and nice staff people of which half where from Canada. All evening we sat around the big bonfire talking and telling stories while drinking chai and placing our feet in the sand.
Friday 7. November
Next morning we woke up early to get most out of the few hours we had left. Enjoying the amazing sourrounding we couldn't see in the dark the day before, we waited for the sun to reach the bottom of the canyon. As this happened the cold finally disappeared and we went hiking, played badminton and I also took a quick morning swim in the Ganges.
The train ride was to say it short horrible. For one weird reason we just received two seats even though we paid for eight. Luckily we ended up with for beds but I still slept one hour and when we reached Jaipur we all were near a mental breakdown. Reaching home we all went straight to bed. And even though the journey back home was terrible the trip itself was great and I can't wait to go to Rishikesh again.