Overnight train: full thumbs up. We were in an air conditioned sleeper, which slept 6. We were provided with sheets, blankets and pillows to nest in- although it was quite hot on the train. After a bit of a marathon game of cards with Chewy, Skinny, and the Norwegian Boy, B and I try to curl up and watch a movie... However predictably we both start drifting off and decide to try and catch some shut eye after our eventful last day in Varanasi. Ging passed out at 8, shortly after we got on the train! All three of us managed to get in a decent amount of (slightly interrupted) sleep over the 12 hour train ride.
When we arrive in Orchha we start to understand that India has more to offer than the complete insanity of Varanasi. Orchha is a city of 10,000 people, settled on a river and a horizon dotted with Hindu and Muslim palaces. We are staying at the Orchha Resort in the Luxury Tents. The beds are the comfiest we have had yet, and the showers.... Amazing! Hooray for hot (ok luke warm) water and water pressure!!! The hotel is a short 5 minute walk from the town centre and the Orchha Palaces.
After breakfast and a shower we head to the Palace for a tour from a local guide- Indu. The view from the palace over the valley is absolutely spectacular. It is a wonder to us that every square inch of this country is not inhabited by someone- but for as far as the eye can see it is green fields and forests, rivers and palaces.
As usual- we dart off after the tour to find some little spot to enjoy an afternoon meal. We pick Bohu, on the corner of the main street and the road leading to the palace. This was the spiciest lunch we have had yet- we haven't had too much of a struggle with anything yet. The food wasn't unmanageable, but definitely had a kick to it! We did some afternoon shopping after our lunch- but only for about 15 minutes. The kids in Orchha have a lovely little trick where the run up to you and tie a bracelet with bells on to your wrist before you can say no. They tell you that it's free but you much promise to go to their shop. So we walk into the small marketplace and get accosted by children. I get wrangled into looking at one of their "shops" and before I know it....
Yes. Henna. Now affectionately known as the Monkey Paw. And a terrible henna job too. And of course I had to pay more than what I paid for lunch. Sneaky buggers. (As an aside- I don't mind henna, but for traditional purposes. As a tourist I don't think I have any business having it on me, but some other tourists have the token flower on their wrist...to each their own). By the time I am finished getting decorated I turn around to see children draped across B and Ging, and they both have 5 or 6 bell bracelets on. Needless to say we got out of there and hightailed it back to the hotel. Funny that we can handle the insanity of Varanasi, but the kids in Orchha put us over the edge.
After attending the evening prayer at Ram Raja Mandir, we grabbed a bite to eat at Ram Raja Restaurant (right beside the bridge, leading to the palace). The owner is a lovely Indian lady. When B and I snuck off to use the washroom (which is right beside the kitchen), I snooped around the kitchen into the hot iron pots which were brimmed with bright curries. They were more than happy to tell me that everything is cooked fresh, nothing in advance. We get waved out behind the restaurant, where there are two men making chapati. They immediately hand us a ball of dough and the rolling pin so we can make our own. B and I sat and ate our handmade chapati, and tiny potatoes pulled from the coals of the fire while these two men spoke in broken English about their family restaurant. These are the moments I love traveling.
Tomorrow- sunrise walk along the river, and an Indian cooking class. I don't think this will get old any time soon.
Chilled and fed,
The Three Muskateers
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