Apr 18, 2011

India: Relaxing in Rishikesh

Posted by Mary |

Our journey out of Delhi and on to Rishikesh did not exactly get off to an auspicious start. Despite having tickets that said New Delhi Station, we soon found out we were actually departing from Old Delhi Station. We went running for a rickshaw, and then stopped to bargain the price down. Our driver flew across Delhi, depositing us at the correct station. Of course, getting to the station is only half the battle. We had to get through security and find our train on the sign, then run to the platform. But no train was there. So Beau ran back, then we ran together out one exit and through a different security checkpoint to a different track. This was the right track, and the train was there, but now we needed to figure out where our berth was. Since we still foolishly operated under the assumption that trains ran on time, we were certain departure was imminent. So we ran down to one end of the train, then turned around and ran back down to the other end. Being calm, rational adults, we yelled at each other the entire time. Finally we found the 1A cars and a conductor gave us our berth number. We settled into our first train trip. We had opted for the highest class, which netted us a room with two beds and a door that closed and locked. Fancy-schmancy.

When we got to Haridwar in the wee hours of the morning., the station did not have any retiring rooms available, so we sat in the first-class lounge to relax for a bit. A few hours later, we set out to wander the streets, with a goal of finding food and the bus station. Food was easy to find. The bus station was easy to find. The right bus was not so easy to find. Rather than having a ticket window, you pay on the bus. I was trying to read the bus signs to find one that said Rishikesh. In retrospect, we should have just waited. Basically, as a bus pulls out of the station, someone stands in the door and yells "RishikeshRishikeshRishikeshRishikesh." People run and jump on the moving bus. And at some point, someone comes around and takes your money. Hindsight is 20/20.

We didn't have a game plan when we got to Rishikesh, other than stay on the far side of the river. When we got there, Beau picked out the Jaipur Hotel. The room was a bit pricey, but the view couldn't be better!

At the end of the suspension bridge was a little plaza where touts pounced on you, trying to henna your hands, sell you cheap bindis and trinkets. There were also several shops selling music, and during the day, they blasted that music at top volume. With our balcony door open, the sound of the market below and the music drifted into our room.

I had a plan. And that plan involved massage. We wandered through the market until I found a place where we could get 90-minute massages for Rs450. Beau and I went into a room divided by a thin curtain. Massages in India are a bit more hands-on than in America. Let's just say my pectorals were soothed. At the end of the massage, she filled her hands up with oil and went to town on my scalp. I was a hot, greasy mess when we left. I lathered up twice with shampoo, and was considering attacking my head with Dr. Bronner's.

The next day was Christmas. Beau woke me up with a gift. He had snuck out while I was showering to buy me a bronze Ganesh for my collection. I had given him his gift (zombie shooting targets) before we left America. We went for a long walk down the road toward some of the ashrams. Rishikesh is noted as a yoga center. This is where the Beatles came to study. We didn't have much time here, because we had to head back to Haridwar for the night. We had an early morning train to Agra!

The hotel in Haridwar was easily the worst place we stayed the entire trip. And not the cheapest, either. But it was close to the train station, and we were leaving at 6 a.m. Next up: Agra, Agra, and more Agra.

Assorted pictures from this leg of the trip:

Rickshaws are fun and deadly. Also, a great way to hone
your bargaining skills. Nahin. Tiis rupees!

Beau greatly dislikes this picture. Thus, I greatly like it.

Turnabout is fair play.