Saturday, February 3, 2007

Holy City in the Mountains

Hello everyone! I'm sitting stuck on a 5 hour layover in Hong Kong waiting to board the third and final connecting flight that will finally get me to Xiamen, China for the semester. Xiamen is only a 1 hour flight north of Hong Kong, so this final layover is quite the tease as I have been hopping planes for what will be 19 hours...phew.

So while I'm catching my breath I thought I should get a final India post up. I mean, I really have to since the highlight of the entire month came on the last two days in the country.

I have been sitting on a train ticket to the city of Rishikesh for about a week, waiting to head towards the Himilaya Mountains foothills. It was a 5 hour train ride from Delhi to Hagiwar, another city resting on the holy Gangas River. From there, Alex and I negotiated our way to a taxi driver who would take us another 2 hours north, through Rishikesh and up the mountain to our reserved hotel, The Glass House.

We had no problems on the trip, everything went as planned with plenty of pleaseant surprises along the way. The ride up the mountain was more thrilling than any roller coaster ride at Six Flags. The road barely fits 2 vehicles at a time, and often is only made for one direction at a time. Pot holes rule the half paved, half washed out road only adding more difficulty to the trek. But the scariest parts are the blind turns, and they come often. The driver would fly at probably 5o kilometers an hour, winding up the mountain path, approaching these sharply blind turns blaring his horn. Blowing the horn is the only way to alert possible oncoming traffic of your presence. No music plays, the drivers window is down, and he goes into military focus mode.

Alex and I sat in the back seat with our hearts racing, clinging to the "ohshit" handle that came in more than handy during this ride. Besides the blind turns, oncoming mac sized trucks, local motorbikers, and rock slides (yea, traffic was backed up on the way back down because a bulldozer was busy removing a rock slide that had covered the road) the other doozy was when you looked out your passenger window. More often that not, it was a beautiful view of Himalayas foothills and the flowing Gangas river, but look a little closer to the road and its clear that the car is always mere feet from certain death. The cliffs are steep drop offs in the hundreds of feet, the kind where no seatbelt will help (oh, that didn't matter because our taxi cab had no seatbelts).

Once to the hotel at the top, we were river rafting right back down to the bottom within the hour. More on that, and the subsequent motorcycle ride back up the mountain later...


Dad said...

Hi Jess, Well I see this was posted at 1:11 Am . I have been on a couple of rides like that in Mexico. It can be exciting to say the least. Your website and writing is excellent. Just keep letting out that string. Love Dad

big sister said...

Sounds like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyworld!!! I just saw a Discovery documentary on these types of DANGEROUS roads around the world- I won't go in to detail except to say, THANK GOD YOU'RE OKAY! BTW, love the photo- it doesn't even look posed, you truly look terrified! Be safe, sweetie. I love you! XO XO XO

mom said...

Hey Jess, I'm sure glad I'm not aware of the scare factor before your episodes. They're great to read about post event! Stay safe. Angels surround you. love, mom