When we arrived in Hong Kong, we thought that was mad, then we saw the rest of China and thought that was even more insane. That record was beaten when we saw Delhi, and it's just been beaten again by Varanasi - this place really is insane!
Our train journey was long, boring and hot - the plasticky covers on our bunks made us sweat profusely and we had a severe lack of food. Only half an hour into our journey, while me and Nico were asleep on our bunks, some urchin ran onto the train and nicked my shoes. Luckily my pack was chained up to the seat, silly me for not thinking to chain up my shoes as well! The rest of the journey passed without incident, and we arrived at Varanasi at 9 this morning. Varanasi seems to have some of the most tenacious rickshaw-wallahs yet (though we have been told that Agra beats anywhere in India), and so we spent a good hour and a half trying to shake off one guy after another, and in the end we gave up and got one of the touts to take us through the maze of back alleys in Godaulia, in the Old City, to the hotel we wanted to stay in. On the way here we passed through hundreds of little streets buzzing with people, flies, and of course, cows, and then people carrying dead bodies atop stretcher-like things down to the burning ghats of the edge of the river Ganges, to be cremated. The main attraction of Varanasi is the ghats - massive steps that lead down to the river, where Hindu pilgrims come to bathes in the waters of the sacred river Ganges, where the Dhobi- wallahs (washer people) literally beat the dirt out of clothes, and where the aforementioned cremations that take place (though only on the special burning ghats). Tomorrow we're going to try and get up ridiculously early, 5 am probably, to make our way to Dasadwamedh (I think that's the right spelling!) to catch a boat to see the sunrise over the ghats and the city, although the Lonely Planet (a.k.a. the Bible) warns us to be prepared to see the odd corpse or two floating down the river! Nico's just gone off to report his camera stolen on the train to Varanasi (it actually went missing from his bag on the flight to Delhi, but we were told the Indian police were more likely to believe us if we said it was lost on the train), and should be back soon, and we'll hopefully go and explore the city for a bit.