Sorry, Legs. It Was Worth It Though!

Sunday 12th October
Oh sunrise. I love you, but why do you have to be so fucking early? Glaring at my alarm didn’t stop it from being 3.30am either. To be fair the tour wasn’t leaving until 4.30, I didn’t have to be up at that god awful hour, but when a start is this early I like to give my basic motor functions time to work out what the actual fuck is going on so I can converse with people without them thinking I’ve just had a stroke. Drooling on somebody’s shoes less than four minutes after meeting them is apparently not the done thing. I didn’t have much of a clue what was going on with this, a couple of Belgian girls on the raft yesterday had told me their guesthouse could organise a trip up a massive hill in a 4WD where we’d be dropped off to watch the sunrise before walking down again. I was sold on the idea of the sunrise and the walk, I like both of these things even though my body isn’t currently primed for much more than a waddle to the shops to get more crisps but I have a big trek in March to train for. Now is a good a time as any, right?
So it turns out that there’s nothing like climbing up 321 steps before breakfast to make you realise how not ready for Everest Base Camp you are. The 4WD had taken us as far as it could go then it was up to us to walk the rest of the way to the temple or in my case, drag myself labouriously up the steps to the top, gasping for breath like I’d just finished first in a triple marathon.

Well this is already worth it then

Nonetheless, by 6am me, two other chicks (Danielle and Laura) and our guide, Pammi, were stood by Kunjapuri temple at 1645 metres waiting for the sun to show itself. The temple is one of 52 throughout the Indian/Nepalese Himalayan ranges which mark where the body parts of the goddess, Sati, fell as Lord Shiva, her husband, carried her dead body through the mountains. Fair enough, your body would be a little bit flaky if you’d just thrown yourself on a fire and burnt to death because your father insulted your man. There’s a Jeremy Kyle episode in there somewhere.
And sunrise, I love you, but why do I insist on gazing directly into you thus having to spend the next half hour looking at everything through the semi circles of lights etched into my retinas?
But this was so worth it, to watch the sunrise over the foothills of the Himalayas. In the distance you could see snow-capped mountains and the foreground was littered with tiny houses and villages. It was just stunning. We drank it in for a while and Danielle joined a group of girls who were doing sun salutations before we headed back down half of the stairs to a tiny store selling… have a guess… yeah, two minute noodles and chai. Fuck it, I thought. I’ll have another bash at this chai thing, see if I can get myself to enjoy it more.

Oh sunrise. I can’t stay mad at you for long
And the monkeys! You’re totally surrounded by monkeys here. I love monkeys, they’re so cute and I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off but they’re proper little chavs aren’t they? They leaped all over the place, trying from all angles to get to the parantha, bread and salad we’d been provided with for breakfast as Pammi and the bloke from the store fended them off with a fucking bat. They were relentless. Apparently they run into the shop and steal things and when the guys were shouting at them they stood their ground and shouted right back. I’m not even shitting you, they’re like smaller, hairier versions of the gangs of 10 year olds in Manchester. You can imagine them loitering outside shops asking passers by if they’ll go in and buy them a packet of fags and some firecrackers before they nick your car and joyride it into a letterbox.
Kunjapuri Temple
Kunjapuri Temple
Anyway, we started our walk down the hill back to Rishikesh. I find downhill harder than uphill sometimes. Ok, so uphill will make if feel like you just had your lungs sandpapered but downhill is a lot harder on the legs methinks and the fact I have the balance of a giraffe on ketamine doesn’t help my cause. Pammi was awesome though, he’s so knowledgeable. He lead us down the hill past stunning scenery and local communities who are self-sufficient, growing rice, wheat and corn. He stopped to tell us about crops and the useful properties of some trees. He even showed us that if you put this small fern on your hand (or where ever) and slap it it leaves a white stamp which is kinda cool. When we were kids, the only stamp we played with was when we wrote “TWAT” backwards on our palms in heavy biro then pressed it against someone’s forehead. Oh the fun we had.
Personally, I don’t think this trek could be any more perfect. You begin with a sunrise, you’re not rushed down the hill at all, you get a look into the lives of the villagers who live there and you finish at Neergarh Waterfall, the fucking stunning waterfall I was at the other day but this time you approach it from the top. By the time you get there you’re pretty knackered and your legs are shaking from the constant downhill. I can’t think of a better way to cool off after a few hours of upsetting your calf muscles on a several kilometre long downwards slope. And all of this only set us back ₹800 each. The more of you there are, the cheaper it gets but I think it’s more than worth that price anyway.
I could get used to views like this

Monday 13th October
On account of the fact every single muscle in my body currently hates me I figured that today would be a good day to do copious amounts of fuck all. The top half of me aches from the rafting, the bottom half of me aches from walking down a fuck off great big hill for hours yesterday. My neck has absolutely no reason to ache but apparently it liked the look of that bandwagon and jumped right on there. Even my arse muscles hurt, probably from all of the clenching whilst trying to negotiate the steeper, slidier inclines on the stone strewn route yesterday.

Pammi, our guide for the day

I did book myself in for an Ayurvedic massage, though I was slightly worried about having to take all of my clothes off, I don’t like being bollock naked in front of strangers, at least not until they buy me a drink. I was allowed to keep my undies on though and she just shoved them down around my arse when she wanted to massage my lower back, and up into a wedgie any playground bully would be proud of when she wanted to massage the tops of my legs and my butt. It. Was. Awesome. I could get used to having massages. All of me got a go, she even got in between my fingers and toes. She moved my legs into a series of stretches that felt pretty fucking awesome too, and kept doing that hitty slappy thing which actually felt pretty good, in a totes non-kinky way y’understand. Once she was done with the back of me she got me to turn over and she covered my tits up y’know, for modesty, which was utterly fucking pointless because she had to to remove the cover anyway so she could massage my boobs. That was a bit forward! I usually insist on at least four Jagerbombs before we get to that stage. I probably shouldn’t have agreed to the head massage either because the hitty slappy thing is all well and good on my back and legs but maybe not so much around the skull hey, lady. I left sufficiently basted in oils and only ₹600 poorer.

Locals walk these cattle round in circles to trample the rice out of the straw stuff
Crop terraces

I’ve also managed to contract some manner of common cold so I’ve resorted to ginger, lemon and honey tea because that’s the done thing, right? I’m not usually into this hippy shit when it comes to remedies, I worship at the alter of pseudoephadrine and paracetamol and tend to cram as much western medicine into my facehole as I can before suffering full liver function failure but I figure I might as well give it a go. It’s not like it’s unpleasant ay. Anyway. Hopefully by tomorrow my calf muscles might just have forgiven me and resumed regular service and perhaps I’ll even be able to breathe through my nose if lemon, ginger and honey have the magical properties every bloody hippy seems to think they do. Not gonna lie, it’d probably be made a bit more magical with a double shot of Kraken rum in it though.

Lakshman Jhula

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
Stayed at: Hotel Ishan

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