. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: January 31, 2001

Wednesday, January 31, 2001
Varanasi, India
India's FlagUttar Pradesh's Flag

Varanasi, India:
Latitude: 25° 28' 43" North
Longitude: 83° 0' 54" East
Altitude: 195 feet
From Seattle: 8710 miles
Lodging: Transit - Train: Train: Gorakhpur - Howrah Express #5050: Varanasi - Caldata/journal

Today's Travel:
Country: India
Region: Uttar Pradesh
Route: Train: Gorakhpur - Howrah Express #5050: Varanasi - Calcutta (Howrah)
Weather: Sunny

Available Photos:

Sunset Varanasi, India

View towards river Varanasi, India

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 1392
Linear Dist: 225626
Countries Visited: 74
Regions Visited: 277
More stats...
Hotels: 530
Friends / Family: 338
Camping: 130
Hostels: 262
Transit: 88
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 4521

Journal Entry:
The goal for today was to find a bookstore as I was almost out of reading material and I have some very long train rides ahead. I had a leisurely morning packing, and checked out of my guest house around noon. I had directions to a bookstore, but it was in the same area (Dasasvamedha) I was looking in yesterday so I had my doubts. However, I had no problems finding the recommended bookstore, and another one, just around the corner from where I had been looking. Spent a couple hours browsing the disorganized stack and walked out with four books (Salmon Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Jeffry Archer's First Among Equals, Shakespeare's Twelfth Knight, and John Grisham's The Testament). I hit the internet cafe then spent the evening at the Shanti over an early dinner reading the Grisham novel.

After six I headed back to my guest house to pick up my gear and head for the train station - my train wasn't until nine, but I didn't want to deal with walking with my pack after it got too dark. I had directions to find a rickshaw by heading straight up from the guest house. Unfortunately in Varanasi there is no such thing as a straight road, or for that matter a road that runs more than two blocks. So about ten minutes into my hike I was completely lost. I wandered then asked, then wandered some more, and then asked again. After an hour I finally found a street big enough for vehicles and shortly after found a tuktuk that would take me for thirty rupees. The ride to the station was a nightmare - this was the worst driver I'd encountered in India (and that's saying a lot!) Somehow we made it to the station with only a few minor sideswipes, and then when I paid him he held up the money and demanded more, repeating thirty but holding up four fingers. I counted out "ten, twenty, thirty" then he said "forty" and insisted that's what he meant. Thirty was the fair price and what I've paid the other three times I've been to the train station so I refused and he yelled at me until I asked him to get the police.

Of course the train was a half hour late arriving so I ended up with nearly two hours to sit in the cafeteria drinking chai. When the train came everyone rushed to get on and then we sat there for forty-five minutes. Plus it's the dirtiest of the trains I've seen so far, and the top bunk I'd reserved is actually a middle bunk (the worst - it constantly gets bumped into, you can't go to bed until late and you have to get up early)...

Related Sites:
CNN: Current Weather in Varanasi
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: India
CIA - The World Factbook: India

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