Bring on the Fun!!!
We left Lumbini in a hurry....mostly because neither of us had slept that night due to the 300 degree humid heat in our room and the wonderfully fantastic aroma of must mixed with mildew. A certain recipe for any terrible sleep. We headed for the Indian border and realised immediately we were walking (literally) into an entirely different world. No one stopped us at the border. No one checked our bags. We just walked in. Literally. I try to imagine someone trying to simply "walk" over the American border, before succumbing to the wrong end of loaded barrels, only to exclaim "What? This is what we do back home? Can't I just go in for a look?" This ease at the India/Nepal border is due to the fact that Indians are allowed in Nepal without a visa and vice versa. However, for a foreigner, and one who comes from a country whose border policies are not quite so lax, it was all very strange. After walking into India for several hundred meters , we noticed a sign on one of the buildings that "requested" that tourists stop. This was our border control. They stamped our passports and we were on our way.
After much haggling, we hopped into a tiny 4 door honda, with 6 other people. Comfortable-no. Roomy-not in the least bit. Ridiculous looking-absolutely. We headed to Gorakphur were we transfered into (almost impossibly) an even more cramped back of a jeep. Travel in India is anything but luxiouious, but it is cheap. Our destination was Kushinagar, deathplace of the Buddha.
Apparently, in Kushinagar, if you are white you just might as well be walking along with a trunk where your nose should be ( sneers from my friends back home regarding the trunk like size of my nose are not neccessary) as you WILL be stared at......repeatedly. So much so in fact, that Tanya and I declared it "The Leering Capital of the World". Though I am certain that most of the staring attention was towards Tanya, I cannot dismiss my own good looks too fast. I have been known to turn a few heads in my day....but I think most of that could be contributed to my odour.
We stayed at the wonderfully tasteful and exotic Linh Son Vietnamese Buddhist monastery. Though not many people there spoke English, they were very helpful and the grounds were amazing, with replicas of many important historical Buddhist Sites. We were looking forward to our first train ride in India, so we headed off the very next day to the holy city of Varanasi. The fun continues!!
D and T