10.09.2008 - 18.09.2008
We first flew back to Delhi, and then took a long, slow, and bumpy bus ride to get here. It is dirty and crowded closer the city, but up in High Bank, we were high above the Ganges in a very peaceful and quiet place. We had great views of the holy river and the very green hills all around. It was hot and humid, but with nice breezes and usually comfortable evenings, often with thunderstorms. We looked out from our terrace as lightening highlighted different parts of the foothills, accompanied each time by earth shaking booms. It was almost biblical, like a scene from The Ten Commandments. After one particularly violent storm the lights went out for 24 hours.
Rishikesh is known as the spiritual and yoga center of India, and for those of you who are old enough to remember, famous as the place the Beatles used to meet with Maharishi. There are still a number of Europeans and Americans, some from southern California, who have gone native and are more or less hanging out here in the various ashrams. Hard to tell who the real sadhus are. We were not been tempted to do the same, or even spend much time in the main part of Rishikesh. It is just too chaotic and overwhelming. Instead we preferred to catch up on reading and spend time on our balcony relaxing. We did manage to go for a walk to a waterfall in the woods for a refreshing dip, and have swum a few times in the Ganges, which is actually clean this far up. The floating bodies are down below, mostly in Hardiwar and Varanasi. We also went rafting on the river, which has just opened up for the season, post monsoon, more or less. This was exciting, and by shopping around we managed to find a competent outfitter, unlike many others. We had to rescue a few hapless victims of incompetent guides by hauling them into our raft when they capsized.
After our previous adventures, it seemed too much effort to go anywhere else prior to the long push home, and so we stayed for a week and then returned to Delhi by train. In a previous post I told the story of what happened when we arrived, though it was certainly nice to see Hitesh and Ruchi once again.
The trip home was convoluted, first to Columbo, Sri Lanka, site of a recent bombing, (at that time) and then to Bangkok, site of recent mass political demonstrations demanding the resignation of the government. The next day we flew to Maccau, and then took the ferry to Hong Kong where we spent another night. The finale was a 16 hour flight to Newark followed by our final flight to Albany. If this seems like an ordeal, it was, but with frequent flier miles covering our round trip to Hong Kong, who can complain.