Rishikesh, Delhi and home

We drove past Rishikesh up into the valley and stopped at a bend in the road. Apparently our guest house was down a steep, dirt pathway. Luckily some guys working at the guest house came up to help us with our luggage. Rainforest House in Rishikesh is an absolute gem. It’s so peaceful, there are only a few rooms, no tv’s and there’s a waterfall next to the building. We had a beautiful view of the Ganga, which I’m happy to say is clean and fast flowing this high up.

Photo by Michele Reid

The path leading down to Rainforest House

Photo by Michele Reid

Dining area at the Rainforest House

After some rice with bananas for supper (Pradeep insists it’s the best thing to eat when you’re sick), Hubby and I had the best night’s sleep. We had our doors open as it was nice and cool and we could listen to the waterfall as we fell asleep.

I managed to get some washing done and hung it out on the balcony, but some monkeys came chasing each other and left lots of tiny monkey paw prints all over our clothes.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cheeky Monkey

I was feeling much better and had some yummy banana and honey pancakes for breakfast along with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. We hiked up the hill to meet Pradeep to do some sightseeing in Rishikesh. We walked across Lakshman Jhula, a suspension bridge that crosses the beautiful Ganga at the spot where Lord Vishnu’s brother, Lakshman, supposed crossed the river. Lord Vishu came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing the demon Ravana. A cheeky monkey stole a cooldrink bottle which he was enjoying at the top of the bridge.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View from the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cow traffic on the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sneaky monkey

Photo by Stephen Reid

Hmmm, refreshing!

I was so happy to see the Ganga flowing very strongly (thanks to all the snow melting a little higher up) and a school of huge fish congregating below the bridge. Pilgrims were feeding them on their way to temple.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ma Ganga flowing strongly in Rishikesh

We strolled through the town, sidestepping the odd cow. The pace in Rishikesh is much slower and it was quite relaxing going for a walk.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Ganga

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Hanuman

Photo by Stephen Reid

Another statue of Lord Shiva

Photo by Stephen Reid

Food stall in Rishikesh

I was feeling much better, the food at Rainforest House was just delicious and quite healthy and they really did take very good care of me. We spent our last day just relaxing and walked down to the river. My plan was to take a dip in the Ganga. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I can remember. Unfortunately as I dipped my feet into the water I realised even though it was a hot and humid day, the river was absolutely freezing. The roads to the pilgrimage sites further up the valley were still closed thanks to some late season snow falls and the river was being nicely cooled by all the melting ice. I had to make do with a ‘granny bath’, which meant pouring the water over my head instead.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ganga at Rainforest House

With all the really healthy and delicious vegetarian food we were being served (and they’re not shy with portions), I was feeling like my old self again. Reluctantly we left the tranquillity of Rainforest House to take our last journey in India, back to Delhi. The staff helped carry our bags up the steep hill where we were greeted by the ever smiling Pradeep. He’d been taking daily dips in the Ganga. As he swerved to avoid hitting another car driving up the wrong side of traffic, I heard a sploosh noise coming from the back of the car. A quick glance confirmed he was taking containers of Ganga water back home. I just prayed the noise won’t make we want to go to the bathroom soon.

We passed a huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar (somehow Hubby didn’t spot it). As we travelled further the roads became more congested. Even Pradeep was getting stressed. Apparently lots of people were setting out on pilgrimages, but most people don’t drive often and don’t know the rules (yes, it looks chaotic but there are rules) and so places everyone’s lives at risk. We had a few near misses and it was probably the most stressful and unpleasant drive we had during our time in India.

Photo by Michele Reid

Huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar

Photo by Michele Reid

A girl protecting herself from the dust in one of the cities we drove through

Photo by Michele Reid

Green countryside on our way back to Delhi

We eventually arrived back in Delhi safely. I really am a small town girl, while Delhi has spectacular monuments and amazing people, I’m just not keen on cities. After getting a bit lost, Pradeep dropped us off at a mall (I know, we’re in India and we’re going to a mall). The reason behind this was so I could add a Hard Rock guitar pin from Delhi to my collection.

We then made our way to our hotel close to the airport. The first room was horrible and stank of cigarette smoke, but thankfully the electricity wouldn’t work and we were given a much better alternative room.

Our view was the highway, but we were only going to be here one night so it didn’t matter. I managed to pick up a nasty cold on the drive back to Delhi so I collapsed on the bed to catch up with my daily dose of Bollywood which I was unable to do while in Rishikesh.

After a short night’s sleep it was time to bid India farewell. We arrived at the airport (at least this time I’m not sprawled out on the floor wishing I was dead like last time), booked in our luggage and got ready to go home.

As we took off, the sun was rising over Delhi and while I was glad to be going back to my bed and Mia, I would definitely miss India.

We had a stop over again at Changi Airport. This time we visited the butterfly garden. There really is so much to do there, definitely the best airport I’ve been at.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful blue butterfly

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

We arrived within the early hours of the morning back at home. Mia was very excited to see us. As we collapsed into bed to get a few hours sleep I realised that it’s dead quiet. No cars hooting. I actually struggled to fall asleep, I’ve gotten used to the noise that’s part of every Indian city.

There are many things that I loved about India. Ok, so the getting sick part wasn’t great, but the positive definitely far outweighs getting sick. Some of the things I’ll cherish include the incredibly friendly people who often would go out of their way to talk to us or help us, the delicious food, the beautiful colours and the rich history the country has.

A very special thanks has to go out to our amazing driver Pradeep. I’m sure our families are very much thankful to him for keeping an eye on Hubby and myself. He was our tour guide while we were driving from one town to another, pointing out important shrines and explaining local customs. Each day he would answer Hubby’s many questions with much patience (like trying to figure out which direction we were heading in. It became part of our daily ritual as Hubby tried to figure it out, much to Pradeep’s amusement) and of course, making sure we were kept out of harm’s way while we out on the busy and often terrifying roads.

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