A 5am wake up call greeted the girls today – though some members of staff weren’t too impressed and one or two took a bit longer to get out of bed. *cough* Mr Davenport.
But, after a quick cup of coffee and some water splashed on the face, we were ready to face the morning and alight the bus. Apart from the handful of girls who overslept and were late for the departure time. Despite numerous warnings.
Still, we made our way through the now quiet streets of Varanasi towards the sacred Ganges. It was the first time we’d seen the streets devoid of cars, bikes and tucktucks. Though the cows still carved their way. As we walked down to the river we were joined by hundreds of people similarly wanting to experience the sunrise over the river. We were placed into two large boats and set off down the river just as the sun began to peek.
As we travelled down the river we were able to witness the Hindu priests giving their blessings, people bathing, washing and even washing clothes and linen on the shores. As the sun grew higher, we began to feel the warmth of it on our backs and the glow on our faces. Some time for contemplation and relaxation allowed the girls to sit in silence and absorb the nature – the glow of the sun, the light breeze from the river, the sounds of birds, monkeys and chanting along the shores. It really was worth the early start.
Departing from the boat we made our way back to the hotel for breakfast. After a quick shower and ensuring our cases were packed we headed back to the bus for our last site seeing excursions in Varanasi – a trip to a silk house, where we learned how the silk is collected and woven and then to a bead factory. Once again, both places provided ample opportunities for shopping and this time, even the teachers were tempted; Mr Copestake added to his wardrobe with a collection of scarves for the Manchester winter.
After a quick lunch we were straight to the airport for the flight back to Delhi. After spending numerous hours travelling by bus and train, the 90 minute flight to Delhi flew by – though I think a number of girls slept for most of it. It’s straight to the final hotel of the trip for dinner and a relaxing evening.
It’s going to be time to head home shortly, and although we’ve had an incredible week, I know the girls are looking forward to seeing family and friends. They’ve been a wonderful group to spend time with and all of the staff have commented how great it’s been to get to know them. They’ve been a credit to their parents, the school and themselves and we hope this trip has opened their eyes to the wider world. Hopefully it might encourage a few to travel again, visiting more foreign climes. It might even encourage a few to bring you to India.
See you on the other side!
Ps we didn’t manage to trade Miss Turnbull in the end. We managed to raise the price to include a monkey, but no one was willing to take responsibility for it through customs. Mrs Cleary also had to call off her engagement to one of the Indian Maharajahs. She was disappointed to find he had 12 bathrooms in his palace and she wasn’t prepared to spend her weekends cleaning them all.