The plan was to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to go meet the Swiss girls who invited us along on a boat ride on The Ganges to see the bathing rituals. The plan was not to wake up at 2:00 in the morning with another round of food poisoning. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to The Ganges, and then I realized I would hate myself for missing it.
The bathing ghats are where Indian pilgrims journey to wash away their sins in the holy waters of the (very, VERY polluted) Ganges. I say VERY polluted, because Andrew read in Lonely Planet (and recited to everyone we met) that "water that is safe for bathing should have less than 500 faecal coliform bacteria in every litre of water. Samples show this part of the Ganges has 1.5 million faecal coliform bacteria in it."
Drainage systems empty into the river. Burning ghats line the river in between the bathing ghats (by the way, a ghat is technically a series of steps leading down to a body of water. I had to look it up because I wasn't sure what specific part of the riverside these referred to) as well, some people were warned that they might see body parts floating by in the water, but I think this was a bit of a backpacker's legend. Nonetheless, despite some bathers going so far as to brush their teeth in the water (yikes!) I kept my closed toe shoes on and kept my hands to myself at all costs!
We weren't entirely sure what this guy was doing with a fully functional tv on his boat. We think he was a vendor of some sort. Religious videos perhaps? Either that, or he was just bored and wanted some entertainment on his boat as he rowed…
The boat ride was really nice, and it was so fascinating to see how many pilgrims made the journey to bathe in The Ganges. Watching everyone pray, light candles, pour out water, and bathe made you almost forget how dirty the water was while they were waist deep in it. I am so glad I was able to pull it together to get out on the river for an hour, but as soon as we got out of the boat, Andrew had to practically hold me up (or hold my clothes that I started tearing off because I was feeling so badly) as we walked back through the ghats towards Kautilya.
We were supposed to check out in the morning, but luckily no one was checking into our room and I was able to recover in bed until I felt (somewhat) better. Andrew and I went back to the shop/ticket agency to pick up my reserved out wall hangings and sheets (one for me, one for Zengerine!) and then hung out at Kautilya until our train left for Agra at night.