I woke up very early today (some time after 03:00) to catch the 04:30 train to Varanasi; I packed my bags, checked out, and walked to the Gaya Junction Railway Station; I then waited in the early morning darkness for the train to arrive. While I was waiting, I talked to another American tourist who was traveling around India and had just come from Nepal (by bus) to Gaya – my original plan until I decided to fly in to New Delhi to save time -; he also told me that he had hiked nine days on the Annapurna and had done a portion of the trails in Langtang as well. Our train then arrived; we boarded the our coach, found our bunks, and tried to sleep for a while before making it to Varanasi; I had a lower bunk, so I had to clear the passengers off of it that were sitting there – many passengers in India buy a month-long railway pass (some times longer) and then take up space where ever available; I also think many Indians just hop on the train and either avoid the ticket checker (when ever he happens to make it around) or just pay him on the spot (looks like a bribe to me since he doesn’t issue tickets) as I saw one lady do later on in my travels. We then reached Varanasi at about 10:00 and I had roughly six hours to murder until my next train (to Manmad Junction) was scheduled to depart; so I put my bags in storage (in the “Clock Room” – seriously, the sign had “clock” instead of “cloak”) and then hired an auto rickshaw just outside of the station (they tend to be cheaper than the ones in the station) to take me to Sarnath (only eight kilometers away). Sarnath is a small village northeast of Varanasi and contains the site of the Deer Park where Siddhartha Gautama, as the Buddha, gave his first sermon (teaching the Dharma) and where the original Sangha was formed (this is one of four holy sites in Buddhism; the four are: his birthplace in Lumbini, where he gained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, where he taught his firts sermon in Sarnath, and where he died, gaining Parinirvana, in Kusinagar; with this visit to Deer Park in Sarnath, I have now been to three of the four holy sites in Buddhism and I’ve seen one of Buddha’s reliquary jars in Patna – not bad for a Catholic). Inside the deer park the remains of monasteries, temples, and stupas; there is also a broken Ashokan Pillar and the Dhamekh Stupa, which was constructed by King Ashoka in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage to Deer Park; it is believed that the Dhamekh Stupa marks the exact spot where the Buddha taught the five ascetics the Four Noble Truths. After walking around the ruins and the giant stupa while listening to Buddhist monks chanting in the morning fog, I exited the park, found an auto rickshaw, and went back to Varanasi Railway Station. Once back at the station, I waited around for the train to come, eating cookies and chips, and drinking 7-Up and water. When the train finally did arrive, I boarded my designated coach (with my bags that I picked up from storage hours before) and found my bed (it was the lower bunk again). The train then began her journey southwest toward Manmad Junction; I was quick to pull out my sleeping bag and lie down early to dissuade any inconsiderate and impolite passenger from just sitting down on my bunk and taking up space and then not wanting to move when I really did want to sleep . . . sigh, train travel in India can be such a pain; this train did fill up rather quickly too since eventually, after Manmad, it was heading to Mumbai; so many passengers would eventually be on board to travel to the big city. Eventually, after nightfall, I did fall asleep.