Well, we're back at home in Adelaide!
October 29, 2004... Adelaide, South Australia (Home!) - Well, we made it! On the 15th, we had another fainting scare (again at an internet cafe) and a sleepless night with Graham checking Nicole's pulse every five minutes. We were staying in the old city of Varanasi, which is a jumbled maze of very narrow alleyways. Traffic is restricted to pedestrians and cows so Graham yelling out for an ambulance was really totally pointless. With our surroundings scarily primitive, it was an easy decision to return home as soon as possible, in case Nicole fainted again and to do a few medical tests. As it happened, we had seen enough of India and the world in general... Varanasi is the holiest city in Hindu India, being set along the River Ganges. It is considered the best place for a Hindu to die; hundreds of cremations and burials take place each day and the remains are deposited in the river. At sunrise, the river edge attracts many Hindus for a 'holy dip' - they believe their sins will be forgiven by bathing in the river - and many offerings of candles and flowers are set afloat on the water. Varanasi certainly had a unique atmosphere as a place of religious pilgrimage. There are literally temples on every street corner and various holy men walking the streets. Most of these are 'sadhus,' Hindu holy men recognisable by their long beard, long orange loin cloth and brass pot for collecting alms. We were lucky enough to be shown around a few temples by a friendly Hindu man, during the busy evening prayer time. Bells are rung loudly to bring the gods to attention and strings of flowers are laid in front of idols. One evening we went out to a small concert of Indian classical music, with a sitar, tablas (drums) and flutes, which was very relaxing... Another place we visited was Sarnath, a town ten kilometres out of Varanasi. It is an important Buddhist centre and there were numerous temples and a large stupa (monument believed to contain relics of the Buddha). It was here around 200 BC that Buddha supposedly gave his first sermon, outlining the eight-fold path that makes up the foundation of Buddhism... It was our last night in Varanasi when Nicole became unwell and we decided to come home as fast as possible. Unfortunately, trying to get out of India was not a simple process because the flights we had already booked only ran once a week so we couldn't just change the dates. Most of our other options were fully booked out but in the end, we found flights from Varanasi to Delhi, Delhi to Singapore and Singapore to Melbourne. We were heading home! It didn't matter that we were missing our last few days - we'd seen all the places on our list, in fact, those days were basically just reserved for buying souvenirs and relaxing. After 40 hours, we arrived in Adelaide, having got the lucky last seats on the last plane out of Melbourne for the night. What a relief! Adelaide has never looked so beautiful. Getting to the clean, safe environment of home was what we had been longing for. Nicole has had no further fainting episodes, although both of us have had abdominal pain and diarrhoea. As it turns out, we both had a gastrointestinal infection (Campylobacter), as well as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies. We're on antibiotics, eating well and now feeling fine. After some pampering by Nicole's parents, we've moved into a new place in Glenunga, and our phone number is 8379 1125...
So, we've had some time to reflect on our travelling... We loved it all and are really glad we went; we are also happy to be home now too. We are amazed when we look back at what we saw - how many famous sites, incredible landscapes, different cultures and religions. Our knowledge of geography has improved (more to the point, we found out how little we really knew and how much we have to learn!) and we feel like we picked up more than a few interesting facts along the way. We enjoyed seeing how other people live around the world, as well as making some new friends. Most of all, it will be the experiences we shared - good and bad - that we will treasure: sleeping in the car, getting lost, vomiting on buses, running away from wild animals, playing in the snow and just depending on each other...
Here are our three highlights from each continent:
- Seeing the animals of the Galapagos Islands
- Hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru
- Canoeing through the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador
- Hiking down the Grand Canyon in Arizona (coming up was another story)
- Walking down the main street of Las Vegas, Nevada, and appreciating its
- New York, New York
- Hiking around the lakes of Interlaken, Switzerland
- Walking the streets of London, UK
- Venice, Italy
- Safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya
- Snorkelling in the Red Sea, Egypt
- The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
- Walking along the Great Wall of China (well, a bit of it)
- Beholding the Taj Mahal, India
- Exploring the culture and religion of Varanasi, India