Driving through half of India

Varanasi lies behind me. I was pushing myself for the last time through the narrow alleys. Until I reached India I never touched another vehicle with my car. In the mountains of Darjeeling a pickup cut the curve in a way that I made him a deep scratch with my bulbar.  When those small incidents happen the most important thing is to not stop and just continue. In Germany it would be impossible but otherwise it is hard to imagine how those millions of small collisions should be managed by the police. In Varanasi I had in total six of those enemy contacts. My biggest enemy is the bicycle rickshaw which likes to get stuck in my bulbar or at other parts of my car. When then the bicycle rickshaw went in the opposite direction I could hear the driver screaming and I knew what just happened. It means I have to go a little bit backwards, waving for a friendly hello (inside I am cursing) and then I continue. Once a motor rickshaw was just cutting surprisingly my way so I had to break hard. The rickshaw stopped as well. I gave a hand sign to the driver to continue please. I looked to the left and continued driving as well but the rickshaw was still there! So I pushed the rickshaw and made the vehicle almost flip. So again: Going backwards, waving a hello (cursing in the inside) and then continue. I still have the black color of the rickshaw at my bulbar.

Well all of this chaos should now be behind me and I enjoyed the luxury to be on a highway. It is not a place for relaxing neither because of suddenly appearing potholes, speed breakers, trucks and rickshaws which made the highway to an obstacle road. But still more relaxing than the inner cities. Now I am on the way to the most southern point of India (including some side trips). Almost 4.000 KM road were in front of me. 4.000 KM adventure. And uncertainness.

First stop: Bodhgaya. It’s the place where 534 BC a man called Siddharta was sitting under a Bodhi-tree and meditated. He got enlighten and became Buddha. At the first view the city was nothing special. It was a typical dirty Indian village town but with many hotels and souvenir shops. On the second view I realized that I’ve never seen so many Buddhists on one place. The Bodhi tree is still there and is surrounded by a temple which is one of the most important worship places for Buddhists. An incredible aura is around the area. Everywhere are people praying in groups or meditating in silence. Around the temple area are many Buddhist monasteries. From Tibet, Thailand, Myanmar and Bhutan. The walk through the village is like a walk back through my trip. But I only could find some peace in the temples. Once outside on the streets I am bothered again by the souvenir vendors or rickshaw drivers. I was thinking to spend here some days but I left the place after two nights. In my note book is note “There is no flair at this place”.

Der mächtige tibetische Tempel. Hier wurde eine dreitägige Pooja (Gebet) abgehalten.
The massive Tibetan temple. They held a three day Pooja (praying) when I was there

 

Der thailändische Tempel. Einer der schönsten Tempel auf dem Areal
The Thai-temple. One of the most beautiful temples in the area.

 

Die große Buddha Statue
The big Buddha Statue

 

Der heilige Tempel und der Bodhibaum, wo Buddha seine Erleuchtung erlangte
The holy temple and the tree where Buddha enlightened

 

Second stop: The east coast of India. I planned to drive towards Puri but decided to do a detour to see the Satkosia National Park. These are the good sides of travelling alone and having time. No detour is too much. Decisions are done fast and easy. The new destination is entered in the map and then let’s go. At the beginning on my journey I planned to buy for every country a map and navigate like in the old times. But without copilot it can be difficult from time to time because of stupid road leadings and missing street signs. That’s why I choose from the beginning the way of the progress and navigated with the help of offline maps on my phone. It works like a proper navigation system. The fastest navigation was possible with help of Google Maps (Here internet connection is necessary, at least for loading the route). With the help of Google Maps I also could calculate the arrival time pretty accurate.

When I crossed the border of one Indian state to another one I once again looked into astonished police eyes. My license blade looks different; the steering wheel is on the wrong side and behind it a stupid smiling white guy. The confusion was always perfect and I’ve never been stopped in India. But there is always a first time and this one was today. Drivers license, car papers and some word in English. I tried to communicate with hands but we couldn’t understand each other and the conversation ended with the in India so typical shaking the head gesture. But I was confused. The police pointed several times on my license blade. I stopped again after hundred meters and found out the reason I’ve been stopped. My license blade was gone. Lost on the bumpy Indian roads. It must be somewhere on the last 200 KM, because on the highway toll gate it was still attached to the car as the toll paper confirmed. But I am sure it was not long at the road. It is just a too perfect souvenir. Looking for it would be a pain in the ass. Whatever. I have to continue. I am sure I will get somewhere a new one. A nice Indian copy.

It was a long driving day and I decided to sleep next to the road. On a field I found a nice big tree and I parked the car in the shadow. I put the hammock between me and the car – perfect! Some villagers came in the light of the sunset and were wondering about this weird guy with his car. I am asking myself if it’s a good idea to sleep here. But well, what should happen! The only disturbance was the noise coming later from a speaker which must have been in the village. India and silence is sometimes like Bananas in the GDR. Possible but hard to get.

Mein Nachtlager
My night camp

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