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Creepy Crawlies

By on September 12, 2013 in India with No Comments
Patna to Sarnath
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We left Patna, our least favorite city so far, and the horrid Hotel Chanakya, probably to the relief of all involved. Our free lassi had leaked all over the rickshaw in the night so unfortunately we had to divest ourselves of that, in their men’s bathroom. Ha.
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Getting out of Patna was almost as bad as getting in and matters weren’t helped by one enormous pothole that sent our water bottle flying and me looking like an idiot running down the street after it (this is not specific to India, I look like an idiot when I run anywhere). What are people doing up at 6:30am? There is certainly no shortage of an audience to laugh at me in this country. After driving mile after mile after mile at an average speed of 11km/h and swallowing cupfulls of dust I have to admit we both independently reached the same thought: “Would it be cheating if we put the rickshaw on a train, and caught the train to Jaiselmar?” But if we’d done that we would have missed the high point of the day.
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We were very disappointed after seeing signs back in West Bengal saying “Elephants have right of way” and not spotting any . Imagine our delight then, when driving down a dusty little road a thousand miles away we saw a massive, beautiful elephant making its way, towering above us with its mahout atop. We wished we’d stopped to talk to him.
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We saw two new breeds of cow today. Bathing Cows, swimming in waterholes of muddy water and bright green slime, submerged all the way to their heads; and Curious George Cows who stick their heads between the wheels of parked trucks (one even stuck its head in our rickshaw!). We’ve seen goats hanging out under trucks too so I presume it’s for the shade, but I hope they know what to do when the engine starts or there’ll be a lot of decapitated livestock.
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The trucks are crazy. Huge and colorful, green, yellow, and red, often with intricate designs and “please obey road rules” painted on the back (funny, I didn’t realize there were any road rules). They are everywhere and the rickshaw is too small to be noticed, so we need to make liberal use of the horn when passing – which we are sometimes able to do going downhill with the wind behind us.  There are often miles and miles of dead trucks, three abreast, and every 3-4 minutes one can count on seeing one stopped in the middle of the road with drivers changing a tyre, impervious to the traffic racing by them.  And in case you fail to notice a giant truck forcing you off the road, they also have elaborate horn systems that provide a tuneful jangling sound that would wake the dead.
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We reach Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first talks under the bohdi tree. We visited the vihara, the temple he spoke at there, and saw the Stupa – a giant stone monument to him.
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After the nasty folks at the Hotel Chanakya (yes, okay, I’m sure you get the drift) it was so nice to be welcomed at the Hotel Buddah International. They didn’t blink an eye at the rickshaw and the room was <$20. We didn’t mind the large, cute lizards on the ceiling, or the black mold on the yellow walls, and who needs sheets, towels, electricity, and toilet paper anyway?  There was a very nice little garden and we felt very relaxed and relieved to be out of the hubbub. That is until we saw massive creepy bugs crawling all over the bed, ants all over the floor, and beetles and a black grasshopper in the bathroom (green grasshoppers = cute, black grasshoppers = not cute). At night I could feel them crawling all over me. Correction, I could feel and see them crawling all over me  – even on my face and there was much shrieking and leaping (Rick was dead to the world). I thought I’d never sleep but eventually I put earplugs in so they wouldn’t wander in and eat my brain, and nodded off.
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