We made it to Varanasi… We have had two tiring days. We left Darjeeling early in the morning yesterday and made it to the train station just in time to catch a train to Varanasi. The only problem was that since we had not pre-booked or reserved a ticket, we had to sit in second class…what a nightmare! It wasn’t too bad at the start because you had the breeze coming in through the windows when the train moved, and a bit of space to sit down. But after a few hours it started becoming really uncomfortable. The seats were just planks of wood and metal, and my butt was aching. The train was stopping at stations for 30 minutes, and it was getting really hot inside. As the day went on, more and more people were getting on the train and they were occupying every available space. By the evening, everyone was tired and wanting to sleep. There were people asleep on the floor, all on top of each other, people sleeping in the luggage racks, you just couldn’t move anywhere cause there were people asleep on your feet and on your legs. Awful. By the time our train reached Varanasi, it was 6am and we were covered in black from all the dust and dirt, and we hadn’t had any sleep at all. Still, we were glad that we managed to get here, but never again, ever, will we want to do that again… We spent today looking around Varanasi, saw the temples, the alleyways full of silk shops and jewellery, and the Ghats. Varanasi is famous for its cremations, which take place alongside the holy River Ganges. Any person cremated here goes straight to heaven. As soon as we got out of our taxi, we were surrounded by little kids that wanted to show us the burning Ghat. We followed them through alleyways which finally come out to a building where you can look down on the cremations. It was not very nice to see. I was curious and all the explanations as to how/why it is done is very interesting, but the sight of it and the smoke coming from the bodies was horrid. I can’t explain the feeling, we just saw several different cremations all at different stages. One was just finished, men with sticks were picking out all the leftover bones, the ribs and thigh bones. Another had been going for a while. The body was burnt, but there were legs and feet poking out. There was an old woman and you could still see her face. Another person was just being laid out, first water from the Ganges was poured over him, then he was set alight. When the wind blew in our direction the smoke got everywhere, in your throat and in your hair. The smell was not like a Barbeque, that’s what I imagined it to be like…even the thought of it now makes me cringe, and I wouldn’t like to see it again. The good thing about Varanasi is that there is a really fast Tourist counter for booking rail tickets, so we’ve booked our way out of here and onto Agra for tomorrow and then onto Bangalore in time for Divali. And I’m really glad about that, because I don’t think I could stand it here for any longer than a day. Now we’re gonna catch up on two nights sleep.