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We left Kathmandu 4 days ago thinking it would take 2 to reach Bodhgaya, India. We could not have predicted what lay in store for us though. Our pilgrimage started out with optimistm and energy but ended with frustration and freyed nerves.
Bodhgaya is home of the Bohdi tree which Sidartha Guatama, or Buddha, reached enlightenment under. Until, we began researching our trip, I did not know that you could visit the actual tree, I thought it was just a myth or a story, but there is an actual tree.
Unfortunately, to get to Bohdgaya, we had to go through hell. The roughest part of our trip up until this point was going from India to Nepal, but from Nepal into Bihar, India was surpassed it. Never was the difference between Nepal and India so evident. Literally, after crossing the border, the vibe of our trip changed, the tone of the people changed...we were thrown back into fending away desperate people who were intent on selling us something or stealing what we had. I cannot judge these people because they are so poor, I do not know what I would do in their situation... Malcolm has been very ill with Giardia, and we have been stuck on dirty trains, horse drawn carts, auto and bicycle rickshaws who have been anything but honest.
The 2 hour bus ride from Muzamphur to Patna was by far the worst of the trip. We had to literally fight people to get a seat, and when we did sit down we were wedged in by people nad luggage. If the bus would have flipped we would have been done. The foul air, thick from chemicals from plastic waste bonfires wafted in throughh the windows and gave us headaches. In Patna, we could not find a guesthouse to sleep in, apparently because we were foreigners. We finally found a place that catered to tourists and we had to pay the most for lodging that we have so far. Upon collapsing on the bed we were excited to order food asw we had not eaten all day. Unfortunatley, the yogurt in the Lassi drink I ordered was off and I began throwing up in the toilet. The hotel staff would not give us our money back and the hot water which should be standard in a hotel of this price did not work.
We left the next morning and made the final leg of the journey to Bodhgaya by bus and by rickshaw. Bodhgaya, is located in the state of Bijar, by far the most dangerous, poor, and lawless region of India. You must watch your back at all times and unfortunately, Buddha's prophecy that the area would be forever plagued by famine, poverty, and war has been true. It is ironic that the holiest of all Buddhist sites is in the middle of such a place.
At this point we are feeling that we are enduring
India rather than enjoying it. However, we have been looking forward to reaching Bodhgaya and the Bohdi tree and are looking forward to meditating under it and soaking up the ambience.