An Adventure of a Lifetime

Visiting India's Holy City
By Joseph P. Lewandowski

Our first stop in India was Varanasi, the ancient holy city on the Ganges River. By the thousands Hindus go to the banks of the river every day to bathe, to pray, and to burn their dead. The oppressively compact city teems with people, taxis, roaming cows and pigs, and filth. The scene made us question our decision to travel on the subcontinent.

Five weeks later, on Christmas Day in Calcutta, we wandered the city's Maidan Park and central market along with thousands of Indians out on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. We watched men in whites playing cricket, marveled at the beautiful women in their brightly colored saris, and bargained for silk scarves.

The shock upon our arrival had faded, and we humbly admitted that some day we'd return.

Taking in Thailand
In Thailand, we gagged in the polluted, sprawling concrete mass of hustler-filled Bangkok. The northern hill country, overrun with European tourists and sleazy local tour operators, offered little charm.

We managed to redeem this segment with a 10-day silent retreat at a meditation center, followed by a week on the stunning remote island of Ko Chang.

Our final stop, Bali in Indonesia, is an internationally known tourist destination. Fortunately, residents cling fiercely to their Hindu roots while allowing outsiders a glimpse of their exotic culture.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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