On the road again.
Sorry Sharon. After a great breakfast at our Hill Top Swiss Cottage Hotel (ginger lemon honey beverage for my cold; porridge; fruit salad of pomegranate, pineapple, banana, papaya, and apple; orange juice; toast - for 250 rupees), we asked our sweet, gentle, non-English speaking driver to stop at the Sivananda Ashram gates, to which he agreed. But before we knew it we were past it, and with another 6 to 7 hours driving ahead we kept on motoring down the narrow winding mountain road.
We did stop in Haridwar for photos at several temples and did a short drive through part of town. Jud collected some Ganges water for a friend at home with brain cancer. The waters are said to have unusual powers.
I guess my impressions of these holy cities has altered since the 1970's as the populations, development, and expansion of their boundaries has expanded. Lots of strange tourist parks, with plastic swan boats on murky water. Lots of unfinished roadworks. Lots of garbage piles. Lots of newish hotels and dusty restaurants. I feel lucky to have seen these places before 'progress' moved in.
We have estimated that with the combination of freeways and town/city driving, we travel about 35 kilometres per hour. We continue to be amazed at the height and width of piles of products on all types of vehicles. We have seen 10 mattresses piled on top of one tuk tuk. Overloaded sugar-cane trucks, tractors and pedestrians. Huge white sacks carrying ??? five times the size of the trucks carrying them, dragging onto the roads.
We've seen mule carts, donkey carts, bullock carts, people-pulled carts, horse carts, water buffalo carts, tractors, bicycle rickshaws, motor rickshaws, trucks, cars, buses, scooters, motor bikes, regular bicycles, vans, utility trucks, police paddy wagons, wedding carriages, military and police vehicles, tanks, armoured surface-to-air weaponized special forces vehicles. Sometimes combinations and permutations of several of the above.
The smog of Delhi reaches out 3 to 4 hours beyond the city limits. My cold has moved to my chest and sinuses, so glad to be in Delhi only one day before our homeward flight takes off. We can't tell if it is cloudy today or just smog, as we have left the brilliant sunshine back in Haridwar.
Brian is having Jud talk to Siri on his phone asking where is the nearest McDonalds. He wants a repeat of his 'McSpicey' chicken burger from our last trip in Mumbai. No luck so far. Jud is practicing his bobble head movements.
We have found the use of highway medians to be very resourceful , as long swathes of grassy medians serve as drying racks for thousands of dung piles, being preserved for future fuel for warmth and food preparation.
Stuck in traffic an hour outside Delhi, the water buffalo cart hauling an oversized load of sugar cane saunters by and passes us on our right, school boys pulling out several long sugar canes to chew on while dodging traffic on their way home. Did I mention earlier in Delhi when we first arrived, that we saw two rickshaw drivers fighting with one strangling the other? We can now see how that road rage evolves.
Our driver stopped by the roadside on two occasions to purchase raw sugar that comes in fist sized caramel brown lumps. We stepped out of the car to stretch, the first time, and we think when they saw white people the price went up almost triple. He bought the second time while we sat in the car farther up the road. Instead of 100 rupees per kg, he got it for 35 rupees per kg. Seems he bought at least 3-4 kg worth.
Raining as we arrive in Delhi at dusk. On the road 8 hours for a 250 km trip. Our sweet driver took a wrong turn as we approached Delhi from the west and ended up going south around the city. Thanks to Jud's magic with his phone and Google maps and GPS, we eventually plowed our way through the congestion at rush hour and landed safely at the Ajanta Hotel, which fortunately is better in reality than the web site indicates. The Wastenage boys needed food immediately after another long day of driving with only toilet breaks at Indian Oil company petrol stations.
Tomorrow is our last day, flying out at 8 pm to Shanghai, then a 7 hour layover, before we head to Vancouver. We're hoping to catch a bus to the ferry with all our luggage, and Margie, our house/cat sitter is leaving our car at the ferry terminal when she heads out to Edmonton. Home will be a sweet respite, despite my upcoming dental surgery.