Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
13Trip End Dec 16, 2009
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Where I stayed
The Ideal Tower Varanasi
INDIA!!!! I started to get a feel for how dirty India was going to be when they covered the entire ship floors with cardboard. When we stepped off the ship it was so hot! Also, it is respectful for women to wear pants, so we were scorching. Did you know that there are 300,000,000 people in the USA? Well, there are 300,000,000 English speakers in India and 1.2 Billion total people. It is a crowded country! I was on an independent trip planned by a girl named Barbara. She had planned it in the summer before we even got on the ship. There were 30 of us and we went to get on our coach bus. For the first 10 minutes it did not have air conditioning. I have never sweat so much in my life (gross I know) and everyone was straight up dripping buckets. My friend Ian started rubbing his face on the seats to get the sweat off. We were on our way to the airport when all of a sudden the bus stopped at a store. The bus driver tried to get us to go shopping at his friend’s store….no no sir we just want to go to the airport. It is a miracle if any driver actually takes you to where you want to go, instead of trying to get you to spend money at their friend’s stores. There were about 104 Semester at Sea kids on our plane
We were supposed to be in the lobby at 5AM. Naturally my roommate and I woke up at 5:12AM and had to race downstairs. The water isn’t safe for us to use in India so we had boiled water the night before to brush our teeth. I hope that worked. Haven’t gotten sick yet. Then we had a train ride to Agra (home of the Taj!). We saw a few beautiful sites leading up to the grand finale of the Taj Mahal at sunset. I could have stared at the Taj for years. It was a very surreal experience. I still can’t believe I was there
That night we had to take an overnight train to the city of Varanasi. This was truly an experience. The drive to the train station was the most frightening ride of my life. There are literally no traffic laws as all cars just book it to wherever they are trying to go. Numerous times we would be playing chicken with another car. I don’t think I breathed for the entire hour of the ride. Also, I forgot to mention that cows are sacred in India. They have it made!!! They just roam around the streets and the cars make their way around them. So we are swerving around cows, people, cars, and the bicycle rickshaws. (little Indian men trying to pull people in a carriage behind their bicycle). We finally make it to the train station and there are rats all over the tracks and birds all overhead. If I wasn’t already dirty enough from walking around India for the entire day in the dust, mud, poop, and hotness….I then proceeded to have a bird poop on my hand. There wasn’t enough hand sanitizer to make me feel clean ever again. A sleeper train came by and there were people hanging out the windows and it looked very sketch. Our tour guide assured us not to worry-that wasn’t our train. We all were so relieved…until our train came and it was identical to the sketchy train we had just seen. We walked into the train very apprehensive. When we got to our compartment all 8 of us crammed in
That day I ended up meeting up with 3 friends from UMiami! Two of my friends have been backpacking the entire world essentially. Another one of my friends was doing medical work outside of Delhi, India. Before I had left for SAS we said we might be able to meet up in India, but I never thought we actually would end up in the same place at the same time. It was incredible! Small world?
Varanasi is the holiest town in India
I had so much fun spending time with Lindsay, Brit, and Jon. I got to hear about all the adventures they have been on and they wanted to hear all about SAS. They have the craziest stories! They are spending the next 4 weeks in India before they go to Thailand and then Australia.
That night we partied in the hotel and my friend decided she wanted some food at 2AM. She ordered two plates of french fries, two chicken sandwiches, chicken fried rice and beer for everyone from room service. It was a really late night. Then we had to wake up at 5AM for our morning ride down the River Ganges. It was a tough morning, but totally worth seeing the sunrise. Also, hundreds of people bathe themselves in the river every morning at sunrise because of the river’s religious importance.
We flew back to Chennai later that day. In the Delhi airport we ate KFC and Pizza Hut. I bought Battleship to play on the ship. Like I said, we have a lot of free time. When we finally made it back to port it was really late. Where you enter the port and where our ship is was about a 10-minute walk. My friend Mario hailed down a freight truck that was going through the industrial port and we all piled on the back of it with our bags. Another crazy way to end our crazy adventure of India
The last day my friends and I did some shopping. We went to what was essentially a mall, except you can bargain with the storeowners. I was thinking how funny it would be if we could go into a store at our malls in the US and when they tell you how much you owe, tell them…. No no …too much… I will pay 25$. Everything in India was very cheap. “I give you good price good price.” We had a field day at the mall.
Now we are on our way to Vietnam and I’m so excited!!!! My friends and I are going to make a visit to Ha Long Bay. On the way to Vietnam we will have a Halloween celebration on the ship. I’m not sure what I’m going to be. My friends and I bought some Halloween candy because some of the kids on the ship (children of lifelong learners and professors) are going to trick-or-treat around the cabins. I had the best surprise when I got back on the ship from traveling India. My dad mailed me “Sleepy Hollow” the cartoon version. Every Halloween we watch it together ! He even brought it to Miami last Halloween. I can’t wait to watch it. It will feel like I’m at home even though I am technically somewhere off the coast of Asia.
Check you later. Bridget.