Another early start. We departed the hotel at 7am which meant no time for breakfast. We were promised a stop at a proper coffee shop before getting to the train station for our 4.5 hour train ride to a town called Channsi and then a half hour car ride to Orchha.
We pulled up at Costa and I was most excited. Costa was a salvation in Shanghai on a trying morning. After a muffin and cappuccino life could resume again. As I eagerly waited my turn I released I was still hot and bothered and turned to my summer alternative which was an iced coffee. I didn’t bother getting anything to eat as I was told there was breakfast included on the train. I got my coffee and took the first couple of sips. Mmmmm it was coffee and it was iced (we were advised the ice was safe here so I took full advantage). Now I am not sure about you, but after my morning coffee soon comes my morning bathroom break. After a quarter of the way through my drink I soon realised that maybe milk was a bad choice. I looked for a bathroom. I mean coffee chains usually have wifi and toilets right? No, no toilets. No worries ill go on the train. I mean they are serving breakfast on board so it must be a nice train right?
We got to the station and this is where we said goodby to PPE. As we got off the bus there were some beggars and a little boy with no pants. Next thing I know Carol is taking pictures of him! I whispered to my fellow tour friend “I don’t think having photos of naked children on your camera is a good idea…”
There were also men who were bag porters trying to gain our business. I asked AJ how much they charge and it was 100 RS. That was roughly AUD2. Bargain I thought. I also thought everyone else would indulge in not carrying their own bags. Nope just me! To make myself feel less like a lazy asshole I reminded myself that these guys are trying to make a living and I was helping them.
On the platform AJ advised us of our seat numbers. As a group we were split up but seemed to be with our room buddy. Just before the train arrived, Carol wandered off leaving me with her bag, to which I shouted “Carol get your arse back here I aint taking your bag!”. She had a tendency to miss crucial information due to her wandering and then asked ten thousand questions later which infuriated everyone.
The train pulled up and we all scurried on as it was only at the platform for a few minutes. We sat down and I surveyed the carriage. This was like the crappiest train we had in China….but a bit worse. I felt dirty and hot. There was no way I was touching the “breakfast” or tea. I sat back and started watching a tv show on my laptop. I was not concerned about its security as I was in no mood to be messed with and I had to mentally calm myself down.
Three quarters of the way through the trip and my stomach dropped. Uh oh, my morning bathroom break was here. I borrowed some loo paper from Amanda and bravely went to the ladies (lol as if there was an actual ladies/men bathroom). I told myself I have done this before in China we can do it again. I gathered up my pants and looked for a railing to hold on to. There was none so I grabbed onto the basin for dear life and prayed I didn’t rip it from the wall as I perched over the open hole to the tracks. I did my business but golly it was hard yakka with the swaying of the train movement! Then my own stench arose. It was the worst thing I had smelt in my life and I was gagging. I frantically tried to work the tap to wash my hands or get any water to “flush”. I finally figured it out and got the hell out of there. I just held my hands in front of me, grossed out and only thinking about getting to my hand sanitizer. There were ladies blocking the carriage door with their bags as they were getting off at the next stop, PLEASE MOVE I said, waving my disgusting hands at them. I sat down and purified my hands and belongings for the next 10 minutes. There I did it, India 2 Skye 1.
We arrived at Channsi train station. The thought of a 30min car ride after a 4.5 train was not appealing especially because I get car sick. We headed over to the two SUV’s, the type that can fit 8 people. As I went to add my bag to the pile I caught a whiff of human urine smell, I couldn’t escape it and almost threw up over the bags. AJ quickly grabbed my bag and ushered me away. I jumped in the nearest car and refused to roll down the window for air. With a clenched jaw from concentrating on not being sick we made our way out of the city and into a more rural landscape, and driving for that matter. Trucks and other cars would be coming at us head on and swerving at the last-minute.
We rolled through this small village town and then arrived at our destination, Orchha Resort. It wasn’t big, but it was an oasis to us. We couldn’t get out of the cars quick enough. I was pleased to see my backpack made the journey as it as strapped to the roof of a car due to not enough boot space.
We waited in the lobby for our keys. Hooking up to the wifi. Then we were presented with welcome drinks. How exciting!! Except they came in green or red. Hrmmmm, I chose the green drink as I don’t like red lollies (no I don’t even know how that is justifiable comment, it just is!). The taste was like dishwashing liquid with a hint of lime.
AJ showed us the pool and it was a decent size, and cleaner looking than the one in Jaipur. It had an amazing view of old temples behind the hotel and over the wall was a river where locals were swimming and doing laundry. It felt like a nice escape from the constant traffic and honking and general hustle and bustle of daily Indian life.
A few of us wasted no time in getting in the pool. Others were super keen to get out and explore the village…. In the heat. As we bobbed around and traded stories, out came a bride and groom to take wedding photos in the garden. It was such an elaborate set up, next thing we know there were coloured smoke bombs going off of red, green and blue. The photos would have looked amazing! I just hoped they didn’t include the gawking foreigners in the background.
I opted for some “finger chips” as I still hadn’t eaten all day. I gobbled them down and went to get changed as the late afternoon rolled around a few of us went to go exploring through the abandoned temples.
At first it was a bit scary, I guess always being on your guard in new places. We trekked through fields next to the temples which reminded me a bit of Malta. As we made our way close to the rivers edge, a man started to approach us. I was worried he was going to yell at us or demand money, until I realised he was just going about his business of getting down to the river himself.
Next we came across some lovely dressed locals. I assume they were attending the wedding. Again we wanted photos of them against this amazing backdrop and they wanted photos of us. Everyone was obliging and there were happy snaps and big smiles all round.
That evening we walked through the town and to a Hindu temple. We had to remove our shoes before entering. We were all given a parcel which contain fresh beautiful flowers to present to the gods, however you were not allowed to smell them, as the perfume was reserved for the gods only. That was such a hard test as we had not smelled something nice in days!! But I was proud I didn’t waft in my flowers. I wasn’t sure what was quite going on in the temple but I did feel a sense of energy. It was peaceful and calming and almost a sense that I was supposed to be there in that moment in time. We got closer to the front and AJ passed our offerings over the crowds to a man who threw them at the god statues. It would have been a crushing long mess if we tried to get up close to do it ourselves.
It was time to leave and we were all hungry and tired. We retrieved Carol from a corner in which she had her eyes closed and meditating, we got our shoes and headed back to the hotel. That night I had hokka noodles and it was delicious. With a full belly and a nice cold aircon room I had a great sleep.
The next day we had a casual start and met up at 10am. Ria and I had slept right through the night, so we skipped breakfast and opted for a nice cup of tea in the room before meeting up with the group. We all loaded into 3 tuk tuks and headed to the Orchha Fort. It was a lovely fort, again with the Arabic and Indian influence, but the day was stinking hot and a little hard to enjoy.
After the fort we had to decide to either go back to the hotel for a while and come out later for our cooking demonstration or continue on and have the afternoon free. Of course all of us, except one wanted to continue on so we had uninterrupted free time, yes Carol made a little fuss. We over ruled her and continued to the residential side of town.
As we walked to the house, all the little children came out to say hello and give us high fives. It was the sweetest thing and I found it a precious moment.
I even managed to get a selfie with a cow on our walk.
We filed into the lounge room of a lady named Ranji who was all set up in her make shift kitchen on the floor. Everyone eagerly passed around paper and pens to take receipt notes. Carol was filming hers. I didn’t bother as I know when I get home I will not be making Indian food. I’ll leave it to the professionals at my favourite Perth Indian restaurant, 2 Fat Indians!!
I love cooking, so I loved watching and smelling the spices as they were passed around. How it was so simple once you had all of the elements. When it was time to eat, I was surprised at how much I loved everything that was on my plate. I even had seconds of most of the dishes!! It was by far the best meal we had in India.
Back at the hotel it was time for some “personal administration”. I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do after Nepal. I had left this bit of my trip a bit open for a few reasons. I didn’t know if I was going to meet people who had plans I wanted to join. If I was sub continent out and wanted to head back to SE Asia or if I loved India so much go and explore somewhere else. Turned out everyone was going home to their lives and jobs, except Ria who was doing a 5 day hike. Major giggles there. There was no way on goods green earth I was going to do that. So I settled on a plan I had in the back of my head and that was to head to Sri Lanka. So with a very poor internet connection I spent the next 2 hours trying to figure out the best way to get from Kathmandu to Colombo. I settled on staying in Kathmandu for an extra 3 days after the tour to explore and then fly Nepal Airlines back to Delhi, stay the night and then onto Colombo where I would spend three nights at the coastal town of Negombo.
With that sorted, A bunch of us went for a walk to collect snacks for tonight’s adventure, an overnight train ride from Channsi to Varanassi. It wasn’t a huge collection to choose from, chocolate, chips or cookies. With our snacks in hand we went back to the hotel to fill up with dinner and then off to the train station!!