Saturday, December 6, 2008

To Bodhgaya!

First of all, I'd like to make sure that you didn't get the impression that Varanasi is a boring place. It's far from that. In fact, just wandering the streets is quite an entertaining and draining adventure. Every 3 steps there's somebody shouting at you to buy their wares, whether it be silk shawls -- "cheap and best" -- or opium, hash, lsd, and just about any other drug you can think of.

It's tiresome at times, but it's not too bad. The old town, where we have stayed, has been quite a labyrinthe to navigate through, but we've managed somehow. It's always fun to step out of the hotel on to those winding 5-foot wide streets.

Besides all the hassle from the shopkeepers, there's always the chance you'll see a dead body being carried towards the burning ghats (which are 50m from our hotel). Either that, or you see one laying on the ground waiting to be discovered by something besides flies. We stood and watched flames erupt from eye sockets for a while one evening, which was interesting to say the least. Burnings take place 24/7 around here. It's fascinating.

What else can I say? We've enjoyed some really great non-Indian dishes here. I just need a break sometimes, okay? No problem.

Anyway, we're beginning our journey to Bodhgaya tonight via train. We have a ticket to Gaya with an ETA of 1:20am, so we'll hopefully be able to find a hotel to sleep in before heading to Bodhgaya tomorrow morning (it's about 15km away). We ran into one of the people we did our 10-day Buddhist meditation retreat with, and she'll be joining us for the journey. She's an Israeli girl named Chen. She's cool and we all have a great time together, so it should be fun.

Bodhgaya sounds like a very interesting place. It has a population of around 30,000 people (much less than the 2 or 3 million in Varanasi) and was the place where the Buddha became enlightened. Due to its auspiciousness, dozens of countries from around the world that have Buddhist followers have built monasteries in the city, which should provide an interesting variety of architecture. We're excited!

Special Notice
Happy 2nd Birthday, Beckett!!!

1 comment:

Donna said...

We saw a documentary on Indian cremation rituals on the banks of the Ganges. It was shocking to me to see the lack of privacy and the openness of it all. It must be very interesting to witness these customs in person.