The two lions reaped the rewards of the big push of the previous night with a well-deserved lie-in their hotel on the Ganges. Breakfast on the roof terrace was followed by a meeting with a local tour guide, Kush. Although his friendly helpfulness clearly boiled down to earning his living, he turned out to be a reasonably safe option compared to some of the stories we had heard of ‘tour guides’ in this bustling, ancient metropolis. He took us to a mechanic and, several hours later, under the watchful eyes of Paddy and Gareth (who were a little tipsy after being supplied with Indian Rice Wine) the two lions were transformed in to new machines, purring and ready to roll. In the meantime, Smally and Craig were working hard sorting hotel rooms for the rear guard, sipping on G&T and getting a massage!
As the lions were coming back to life there occurred one of life’s amazing coincidences. In the huge and complicated maze of Varanasi, without any directions, the two tigers and nelly rounded a corner to find themselves right next to the tiny garage where the Lions had been pampered. The final 3 were checked in for some TLC and everyone retired for hotel admin. The evening saw the Furballs taking some mellow time with a rowing-boat sunset cruise up the Ghats of the Ganges. Kush told us of the death rituals in Hindu culture and we sailed past the ‘Burning Ghats’, where those who have died in Varanasi are burned on open wooden funeral pyres. The most interesting things we learnt were that the bodies are charged by the kilo (the fatter you are, the more wood you need) and that there are five sets of people that don’t get burned, their bodies are wrapped, weighed down and dropped in the ganges (google it). As darkness fell we disembarked and ventured in to the the Galis (narrow back streets) of the old town. Motorbikes and cows wove their way through the 6 foot wide alleyways and we eventually emerged on to a larger road, jumped in to a couple of rickshaws (that Team Dickinpants insisted on spending 5 minutes bartering down from 80pence to 79pence) and headed out of town to the five star Gateway hotel - our 3rd visit to a hotel in this chain. Gin, beers and great food left a few drunk Furballers propping up the bar before the staff showered us with mini cricket bats and other such souvenirs that we got them to sign then headed back to the hotel on another breakneck rickshaw run to the banks of the Ganges to prepare for hitting the road again.