So, our second day in India, and we decided to take it easy. Rainforest house has been providing us with the most amazing food since we arrived. We simply ask for the “Indian” option (there are western alternatives on offer which have certainly received rave reviews from the other guests and do look delicious) and what time we would like it served. All vegetarian, which we are not, yet proves that one can enjoy amazing food without meat. I never thought I’d write that.
After breakfast we headed down the 100yrds over rocks and rubble to the “beach”. Here we spent some time reflecting and enjoyed watching the fast flowing Ganges as well as taking lots of snaps for our blog and lounge wall. This proved to be an enjoyable task as an elderly gentleman came down at this point with his Gandalf inspired walking stick and orange robes, one would assume he was coming here for meditation, but he turned out to be the model for our impromptu photo shoot. After giving us a wave we thought that was it, although I was looking for a more ‘natural’ pose, but he reappeared and hopped the – not insignificant – gap from the bank to a large rock. Sadly the image does not portray the speed and ferocity of the water, having some experience of operating in moving water, I would certainly not put money on him surviving should the rock be slightly slipperier than expected. So, we had another friendly wave, he hopped off again, back behind the rocks from which he had appeared.
We returned to the hotel for lunch, which in-deliberately merged into dinner and bedtime.
The next morning we had our first yoga class with two other guests we’d befriended and decided to be yoga novices with. Rainforest House has its own yoga hall on the top floor with an open view of the Ganges. The teacher speaks broken English with a very strong accent but we quickly adjusted to it. He started the class with some simple warm up exercises and then told us we would start with some basic ‘matha yoga’. This was also our first opportunity to practice ‘ohmming’, with some trepidation, as it is an unusual noise to be making around others. The class left us all feeling sweaty, refreshed and awake – an excellent start to any day.
After breakfast we visited Rishikesh and the swaying bridge in Laxman Jhula. The town itself is lined with hostels, hotels, gemstone shops and market stalls selling everything from Ayurvedic remedies to German pastries. There are plenty of ambling cows (and therefore plenty of cow pats too) as well as the usual plethora of scooters beeping continuously. Crossing the bridge, it is an impressive structure on which the village relies, you can feel it sway and bounce under the constantly changing load. Cows, mopeds, people and monkeys all use the bridge, which somewhat mars it’s charm, but the monkeys can rest easy at the top of this chain; we’ll return to that later.
On the far (East) side we looked for ‘Indian style’ clothes. The shops do seem focused on the tourist maket as very few of the locals we saw were dressed in anything other than shorts and shirts, but £5 later and we both had a couple of outfits that help us to blend in (somewhat!). As we were told by a shop owner, we can wear Indian clothes but the face is the giveaway!
Crossing back over the bridge again we met our friends from the guesthouse and heard of the best apple cake in town at the German Bakery overlooking the bridge (as recommended by the Lonely Planet). We stayed for the nightly aarti ceremony at the bank of the Ganges (Ganga) – it starts from around 6:30 and continues until after sunset. It is an impressive sight and definitively worth soaking up the atmosphere of this daily ritual.
At this point the monkeys were ready to put us in our place. We had been warned (and had in fact warned fellow blog readers) not to take photos of monkeys too close as they may see their reflection in the lens and pounce. As one of us is not good at taking our own advice we suffered the consequences. A monkey catapulted itself across us both and clung on to my back. This did not amuse either of us at the time. We, and our new found friends, remained attached to each other and breathed a huge sigh of relief when we arrived at the other side. After later inspection, there were some fairly good scratch marks for us to reflect on/laugh at! Was the picture worth it I hear you ask?
In short, no.