Didn't do much in the afternoon as i still didn't feel quite right and the heat outside wasn't helping. We boarded a sleeper train at 21.30 and my stomach was doing somersaults so i was really dreading it. India has an excellent rail network and the sleeper carriage we were in was quite new and clean. The toilet smelled of curried shit and was just a hole in the ground with a pipe set an angle down to the track - the fact that the pipe was at an angle was to allow peoples shit to stick to the side rather than go straight through! I was dreading having to go. Sue gave me a couple of tablets for stomach cramps and they did the trick. The carriage slept 8 altogether and was very cramped while we were all seated because we all had so much luggage. When we went to bed (which was quite early because some indian chap was trying to sleep and was annoyed at how much noise we were making) the beds were very narrow but i slept ok. The carriage has 2 lots of three bunks opposite eachother (the middle bunk folds up when you are using the bottom one as a seat) and another two opposite the open corridor at a right angle to the 6 (i hope that makes sense!). It was a bit of a come down from the luxury we had become used to but perhaps this will help me prepare for the rest of my travels, I am well aware that my time in India has been all too easy with nice hotels and Manu helping us every step of the way. I am quite glad that i did it this way though because there is no way i could have seen so much of india in such a short period otherwise, and i would probably only have seen the main tourist spots and not the real india in places like Karauli.
Awoke about 06.00 and sat by a window to watch india going by. Apparently 70% of india's population lives outside of the cities which is hard to believe when you see how crowded the cities are, but now i believe it; there was just miles and miles of farmland and small villages. I saw lots of men coming to the side of the railway line to do their morning shit which was a bit disturbing (Simon Prior would love it here!) We arrived at a nice hotel in Varanassi after a 13 hour journey - i went to bed. In the afternoon we visited Sarnath which is an important pilgrimage for buddhists but for some reason I wasn't all that interested. Went to bed after a nice cheap meal and a beer at the hotel.
Awoke by 04.00 alarm call and took a bus at 04.30 to old city of Varanassi. There was life on the steets but not too busy at this time. We took a short walk to the Ganges for a boat ride but unfortunately it was too overcast to see the sunrise. The Ganges was not quite what i had expected and i think the rest of the group felt the same - there were a few people washing in the 'holy waters', a couple of bodies covered with cloth on the banks waiting to be cremated and one burning pyre. We all expected the banks to be crowded with people. We were all given a burning candle which we were to set onto the river and make a wish, i don't hold a great deal of faith in such rituals but even so i wished good luck to Carly for the safe birth of baby Rodney. Walking around the narrow streets of the old city was a bit nasty - the streets are very narrow and you rarely catch a glimpse of sky, not that you want to look up as the streets are paved with diarroreah from the cows that roam around eating whatever litter they can find (so much for the holy cow!) In the afternoon some of us went to see a silk weaving demonstration.
In the evening it was back to the ganges by tuk tuk for the daily Aarti ceromony where 7 priests stand on platforms at the waters edge and summon the spirit of Gange using music, chanting, incense, flames and synchronised movements (sort of like a boy band). This lasts for about 30 minutes and again we were expecting more of a crowd and lots of chanting and praying but were a little dissapointed. The tuk tuk journey back was a high speed dash down some narrow, bumpy pedestrian streets. Beers and bed.