Friday, July 17, 2009

Going to Bodhgaya

We've decided it will be good to split up a couple days. Julie was on her own for 4 hours yesterday and really enjoyed not having dad around... and my time is short, and the one place I really wanted to go besides the Taj Mahal is Bodhgaya, where the Buddha became enlightened beneath the Bodi Tree.

There are several overnight trains leaving tonight, and of course, the online booking system, after a long time of pages not working, found the train, a 1st class sleeper spot, and let me put in my name and age but when I try to pay for it too bad, nope won't work and by the way I may get downgraded to any class seat if not confirmed at the station... so I will go up to the station 2 or 3 hours early. It leaves at 5, it's 11:50 now.

I'll get to Gaya, 12 km's up the road from Bodhgaya about 4:30am... don't know what I'll do then. Also, the online booking for hotels shows no accomodation available, except at a couple "budget" places.... still at $60 USD per night! Now we've seen what are called "posh" neighborhoods and places, and to us they are hmmmm well, imagine the worst part of any city you have ever been in... now, imagine all the garbage get's piled in the street, people pee etc not behind bushes and trees but on the sidewalk, dogs and cows roam freely, and there are masses of people everywhere all staring at you... that's a posh neighborhood... so a budget hotel I think I'd rather be on the train back but don't want to do overnight trains 2 nights in a row, they tend to not be the most restful, especially with a 3:30am wake up call.

So this may be my last post until Tuesday, it's Saturday morning here now... we will see if I see an AC internet cafe somewhere along the way I'll be in there for an hour.

Meanwhile, on the Visa front.... one last hope tomorrow is dimming, it looks like Julie will be required to travel back to USA for a week to get her Student Visa, then return in the 3rd or 4th week of school (they started 2 days ago here). So she will probably come home with me Thursday morning we fly out of Delhi 12:15am and with the 9.5 hour time dif, going west, after changes in Chicago and St Louis, get to Orlando about noon Thursday! That will give us back the day and a half we lost on the way here.

It's hot and going around 100 again today, monsoons would cool things down again and they tell me the further to the east you go the hotter it gets! But I must make the pilgrimage and chill for a day or two before saying farewell to India.

Oh we had dinner at Ashok and Alka's last night, Ashok is Julie's Rotary host here in India and Alka his wife. They have a very nice house in the southwest part of the city, after a wonderful veg dinner topped off by creamy vanilla ice cream atop fresh mango we were pushing 11:00 when Kuldeep showed at the gate to drive us back, about 20 miles. It was still crowded on the roads and streets everywhere even as we got back at midnight. There are huge Krishna processions going on where hundreds of devotees got water out of the Ganges up by Rishikesh, and they walk all the way back with gaily colored orange and gold banners and decorations by the hundreds, then they pitch large tents on the side of the road and you see them all stretching out in there with lit up palm trees and like christmas lights strung up all over the place... they are just on the roadside and apparently many temples send their people to do this we saw 3 separate parties going on during our drive back. When they get back to their temple they pour the water on their krishna statue and maybe something else, it's confusing all the things they do and who they are worshipping...

That's what confirmed for me to go to Bodhgaya, I like the Buddhist religion for it's simplicity, not too many rules, worship as you wish, live and let live. I look forward to hanging around the global mecca for buddhists from around the world and absorbing the laid back peaceful vibes... more to come.

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