The Journey to Varanasi, an addiction to Chai

Trip Start Nov 14, 2008
Trip End Jan 14, 2009

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The distance from Chitwan to Varanasi would back home be comfortably be travelled in a day as it is only 500kms, but in the traffic here we only travel around 20km an hour and we have a border crossing to negotiate where the truck could only get though during the day, so we plan to head off around midday and stay in the border town of Bhairawa where we could line up early for the crossing and head to Varanasi.
In the morning the passengers disappointed at not seeing a Rhino, had a 2nd elephant ride and they all came back happy that they saw a Rhino and its baby. They also told us of Chinese on another elephant yelling out and smoking on the elephant. We did not realise Elephants came with ashtrays and thought yelling out may not be the best way of seeing wildlife.
I quite enjoy the driving days, it gives us the opportunity to see locals go about their daily life. The accommodation in Bhairawa was again way better then anticipated, although there restaurant service was a farce. I was lucky having ordered a soup early it came quite quickly and was Ok, but others had to wait up to 2 hours and then got either a cold dish or the wrong dish.
Having got up early to be at the border crossing at opening time while our passports were being processed we sort some breakfast. Following the lead of a fellow passenger who has recent travelled from India, I tried a cup of the Chai (sweet milk tea with spices), and flat bread. The bread was nice but I really took to the chai. A mandarin seller was ecstatic when I used my remaining Nepali currency to buy a big bag of Mandarins. While being delayed because an inspected decided to start at 8:30am instead of 7am, we eventually got through.
On the way we had a toilet stop where a boy turns up with a kettle of chai and a bag of cups. Given my newly acquired taste for chai, I was able to indulge again. I tried to give the cup back but the boy went to re-fill the cup. Great. I again tried to return the cup again and the boy seemed disinterested. It end up the earthenware cup is disposable.
At another toilet stop, I noticed the driver go across the road to a local vendor and get some Somozas, I followed and also tried a Somoza. They were real nice and quite spicey. Other passengers soon followed suit and the vendor had all his stock purchased.
For lunch we had 30 minutes in a town we were travelling through. We noticed a group of around 10 monkeys wandering though the market. Now having a taste for Somozas we hunted down a seller who had just cooked a fresh batch. For desert I purchased a couple of sweets, there too were delicious.
The town also had many women in black burkas which only a slit open for the eyes. While most of the towns folk looked at us, the Burka ladies I notices shied away from me and when I walked past they huddled and stepped back away from me. One can only imagine what these women have been told about us.
When we got back to the truck we had a very friendly audience of locals checking us out. Some of which were taking photos of us with mobile phones.
We eventually got to Varanasi late.
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