on the flip side

Varanasi Travel Blog

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I realized my aversion to animals and squatty potties might make it sound like I am not having fun in India, when in actuality, it's really a great place to visit.  Especially Varanasi, which I feel sums up the love-hate back-and-forth feeling I have being here.  It's so vibrant, especially walking along the Ganges, with boaters, fortune-tellers, people bathing in holy water, bodies, being cremated, and tourists and locals wandering around taking it all in.  It really does feel like people from all around the world have come together here.

And the mix of Asian and European influence is really interesting - one minute you look at something and think how British it all seems and the next minute it does feel like you're in China.  Even the art museums are like that - half the statues are reminiscent of roman gods and the other half all look Asian.  AND the food is amazing.  I am even getting used to spicy foods.  I mean, I still cry, but at least I eat it.  Oh, and children are also ridiculously cute here with their big dark eyes.  And they hardly ever cry!  They're happy all the time.  Even when eating sand and bathing in icy-cold rivers.  Although most kids in the US are pretty happy while eating sand, glue, bugs, and all kinds of other things too.

We went to Sarnath today, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon amidst a bunch of deer.  There's still a park of deer, although if you asked me, I think they're being held captive and not prancing about voluntarily.  There are also Buddist temples from dozens of countries and visiting them is like taking a little trip around the world.  Actually, it's more like walking around that part of the EPCOT center at Disneyworld, where they recreate buildings from around the world, but still.  And we ate by the Thai temple, where all the monks stared at us.  But maybe that was just due to the vast quantity of food we were eating. 

When they cremate bodies along the riverbank, they weigh the wood before it's placed on the fire so they know exactly how much to charge you.  Luckily, no relatives seem to be stingy with the firewood, so there are no half-cremated bodies lying around.
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photo by: rotorhead85