Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How NOT to Travel By Train

From my recent Journey in India
Japiur Inida, January, 2007
We finish our tour in Jaipur. Our new friend, Salim, helps us map out a loop for the route in Rasjasthan. We were going to take a Deluxe Sleeper Bus to Jaisalmer but there were no berths available so we signed up for the Train instead. We arrive in the dark and wait....And it is COLD...damned cold. We were asked if we wanted an air-conditioned sleeper. Why should we want an air-conditioned train when we're already too cold? Well, the answer is: because otherwise you have a train full of leaky windows that push the freezing air over you all night. Mom, you remember that little sleeping bag I bought in Kitchener just before I left? It has saved our bacon so many times I can't even count. This is one of those nights. the berths are very narrow ; like sleeping on a plank or a stretcher with a thin foam cover. I can barely sleep at all. I give the sleeping bag to Aw and I put the only thing I have left; a single cotton bed sheet, over me. It's not so bad when the train is moving slowly but when it picks up speed, the icy wind whistles through the train and I shiver so bad my teeth are clacking. I get a perverse comfort from looking down at the lower bunk where she is snuggled into the bag with only her wool cap sticking out. Thais are just the right size for these sleepers. It gives me a satisfaction to know that even if I die of cold tonight, at least she will survive to tell our story.We stop early in the morning for some chai and a somosa before completing our fifteen hour journey to Jaisalmer. It's great to finally feel some warmth after such an incredibly cold night.
The desert dunes are very dusty. Aw rode like this for many hours a day.
Here is a tip I want to pass on for anyone traveling by train in India: TRAVEL 3AC. THAT MEANS 'AIR CONDITIONED 3RD CLASS'. Even when it's cold, it is better because it is a sealed car so you don't get the cold wind in. It is also safer because the people who travel in these cars tend to have more money and so they aren't looking for yours.

No comments: