Saturday, October 17, 2009
India Buses, Rishikesh, DIWALI
Our third destination in India was Risikesh, the yoga capital of theworld. The city of Risikesh lies peacefully on the winding gangesriver, the most sacred river in India. Millions of pilgrims arriveevery year. Here they visit the banks to bathe and send off peaceofferings to the gods, in the form of floating candles and variousother gifts. The bus left from Dharmsala which is a 10 minute taxi ride fromMcleod Ganj. We chose the luxury bus which was 600 rupees, the onlyupgrade was that you could recline your seats. The bus station made usnervous, we had read and heard horrible stories of tourists losingeverything to scammers. Marsha got two seats on the bus, while I stoodand watched our bags like a hawk. In the end it was just parranoia,and we were off. The bus was nice and it was about 1\5 full, which wasamazing because we could lie down and sleep through the 14 hourjourney. To get a real sense of the bus ride i think it would best bedescribed as a maniac on wheels. The driver seemed to not care foranyones safetly not even his own. He would fly around corners, wherethe valley floor was several hundred feet below. He didnt understandthat when there is a turn you should slow down well in advance andtake the turn nicely. He would just put the petal to the metal andwhen a turn came he would put on the breaks at the last second like hewas trying to avoid a moose. The breaks by the 3rd hour were makingterrible noises i had to hold my ears because it was so loud. We were told there would be stops for a bathroom break and to getsome food. I knew that the food would be terrible and disgusting andthe bathrooms would be less than satisfactory because of my Thailandtravels. Marsha was not on the same wave length and was horrified tofind such appauling conditions at the stops. The bus made anunexpected stop in Manali and picked up 40 or so roudy 20 orsomethings from the bus stop. Its crazy because in North America wehave working hours of 9 -5 and airports and bus stops die down around8 30 -9. In India the bus stops are at full capacity at 12 at nightand people are still working deep into the night. Its a totallydifferent way of life. We arrived at Dera Dun 1 hour and a half from Risikesh at 5 in themorning. We then had to take a city bus to Risikesh from the busstation which was a close walk from where we were left off. It didnttake long for people to show us where the bus to Risikesh was leaving.We hopped on and took the city bus with locals. It was a really greatway to see how locals get to work. The doors open as we are moving andpeople jump in, famlilies pack the bus city workers everyone justjammed on one bus. It was a really eye opening experience. Risikesh has lived up to the expectations as a beauiful yoga town.Yoga lofts and massage centers are a dime a dozen. The ganges is awonderful backdrop to the foothills that surround it and to thetemples that line the city. Its a wonderful place and a greatdestination to just hang out and meet new people. Yestersay wasDiwali, the biggest festival in India. Diwali is the festival oflights, basically its a time when firecrackers and fireworks dominatethe air and sound waves. Last night amazing firework displays werebeing viewed all across Risikesh. It started at around 7 pm and endedat 2 am. Imagine a fourth of July firework show times 1.1 billion.Thats no exaguration either. The sky was filled with fireworkseverywhere, and it lasted for 7 hours straight. We bought 35 dollarsworth of fireworks and went to our roof. We shot off around 10 hugefireworks, while others were doing the same thing. Its indescribableand a wonder to us why India wouldnt promote Diwali more. Its totallyamazing no words can describe what we saw last night.