Thursday, October 20

rishikesh

As I write this (well, as I WAS writing it a couple days ago, I'm behind on my posts), I'm sitting in Rishikesh... MAYBE my MOST FAVORITE Indian city... perfectly content.

Though unfortunately, I can't say that the whole day was this peaceful. My day started at 5:30 a.m. when I quickly woke up to meet the "winger" on the corner of my new street in Dehradun at 6 a.m. Not having any idea what a winger was, soon I found out when a rickety, falling apart bus pulled up and I hopped in. Down the mountain we went until we came to my next point where I would trade vehicles to a vikram. Again, wasn't sure what this would entail and was surprised to find out that they were basically rickshaws that people think are buses. Teeny tiny three-wheelers with anywhere from five to 12 people shoved in them. Needless to say, not the most comfortable ride. Finally, I arrived at the "bus station" and proceeded on to Haridwar.

 haridwar

Once I arrived in Haridwar, I got in a rickshaw and headed into town. I walked around, saw the Ganges and unfortunately was not too impressed. I'm glad I saw the city, but I knew that Rishikesh was calling my name and decided to head there a little earlier than planned.

I got in another vikran, sat on top of a lady for an hour and headed to Rishikesh. As soon as I arrived, I felt calm and at ease. There's something about the city: the vibe, the mountains, the Ganges, the people, the pulse... there's no way you CAN'T feel the energy. I looked around and ultimately ended up eating (duh) at Flavors Restaurant, recommended by TripAdvisor. After several helpings of roti and vegetables, I headed into the shopping area. I stumbled upon an ayurvedic pharmacy, where I instantly became best friends with the doctor at the counter. I told him all of my "ailments," not sleeping, back pain, my wish to have silky and shiny skin (super necessary) and he pointed me to all the vitamins, lotions and oils that I'll ever need, and for such a reasonable price! The lotion he picked out for my face was made with saffron and when I told him that was my last name, he gave me a huge smile. Later, after various conversations and product analysis, the man looked at me and said, "You are very lucky...AND your last name is Safran. You will be lucky!" Now I have no idea what he was referring to, but when some super cool Indian ayurvedic doctor tells me I'm lucky, I'm going to have to believe him. So I floated off into the city, smiling to myself, to continue hunting for a place to stay.

RISHI

Now let me rewind a bit. This trip to Rishikesh was the LEAST prepared I've ever been for a trip, especially since I went alone, but I have to say it was one of the best. So that just goes to show that sometimes planning is unnecessary and it's better to go with the flow (something I've learned during my time here).

My new doctor friend had given me a recommendation for a hotel called Surya Palace, where he said I should be able to stay for 400 rupees, aka less than $10. Of course I was wary about this... not that I was looking for a five star resort but my criteria was to be safe and clean. I asked around town and eventually, a nice man pointed up a hill, and then called over his very cute friend, who happened to be on a motorcycle.

To my surprised, cute friend motioned for me to get on the back and continued to drive me up the hill to my hotel. Though I had pictured my first time on a motorcycle in Spain with a bottle of red wine in hand, I'd say India was not a bad alternative. It was a short trip up the hill but fun nonetheless (don't worry Dad, it was VERY slow becaues of all of the pedestrians) and I arrived at my hotel, safe and sound. And let me tell you! This place was no joke! SPOTLESSLY clean, hot water with a super friendly and helpful staff. Plus it was close to town, definitely a good find. I spent the rest of the day exploring the town and eventually watching the sunset over the Ganges, pretty picture perfect.

I woke up early the next morning to catch a yoga class (I've been in India for FOUR months and haven't done yoga once... problems). The class ended up just being just me and the instructor, but he was wonderful and taught me some breathing and mental exercises to calm my mind and help with my sleep problems. After class, I went to the Health Cafe and munched on some incredible whole wheat toast, tomatoes and potatoes and sipped on ginger-lime juice while looking out over the Ganges as the sun rose. Needless to say, it was a pretty amazing morning and an all around unforgettable trip to Rishikesh.

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