We have been in India about a month now and due to the craziness that is Indian Railways we have only taken short train journeys, the longest being 5 hours. This is really surprising as we expected to be zipping around India on the sleeper trains every few days. Instead we have almost re-enacted the movie Planes, Trains & Auto mobiles but not by choice that's for sure.
So I was pretty excited for the train, I have been wanting to go on a sleeper train in India for a few years, I was also a little apprehensive as you hear horror stories. For example, you might remember us mentioning Chris & Vicki who we met in Bharatpur. They have been on loads of trains now and the other day Vicki wrote on Facebook that while she was in bed on the train there was a mouse or rat in her hair. Yikes!
The day didn't get off to a flying start. We had booked a rickshaw to take us to the station at 10am, our train was at 10.25am so I put my alarm on for half 9. I was quite surprised when Russell woke me up telling me it was quarter to ten as my alarm hadn't gone off. Turned out the clocks had gone back at home and my phone had forgot we were in India. Thank goodness Russell was awake.
Luckily the rest of the journey went better. Our train was almost on time which is a surprise in India and we found our seats/beds straight away. When you first step inside the carriage all you see is curtains down the sides and the beds are inside curtained areas in groups of 6 in 3AC class.
There are 8 classes of accommodation on the Indian trains. The best classes and the classes used by tourists and richer Indians are AC class, you can get 1AC (on important trains only) 2AC & 3AC. We had 3AC as there was no 1AC on our train & 2AC was sold out. In 1AC you get a private cabin with lockable door. In 2AC it looks just like the picture above but each curtained compartment has 4 beds instead of 6 like in 3AC and you get curtains around your bed and an individual light. There is CC class which is also air conditioned but is just a chair so you only do short journeys in CC. The rest of the classes are used by locals mainly and look like the trains you see on tv - really packed and boiling hot. So we shared our little compartment with an ever changing array of middle class Indian couples, we didn't get chatting to any of them but they all smiled and seemed pleasant (as pretty much all Indians do).
Me & Russell had the top bunks on either side of the compartment and there were 2 beds under each of us so a 3 tiered bunk bed system. Throughout the day the middle bunk is folded up and everyone sits on the bottom bunks so we were lucky because the top bunks were unfolded and had nobody sitting on them. Bonus!
We got ready for the 19 hour journey and we settled down. We had plenty of books to read and our mp3 players were fully charged so the first few hours passed really quickly. We bought some delicious coffee from the guys walking through the carriages. These guys who work for Indian Railways spend the whole journey walking up and down shouting "coffee, chai, hot soup, bread omelette, pineapple fry" and lots of other words we couldn't quite work out. The food & drink they sell is always really tasty and very cheap so buying stuff from them is one of our favourite things to do on the trains.
As this is a long journey you also get offered breakfast, lunch and dinner. You just say veg or non-veg and an hour or 2 later they will bring you a tasty meal in a silver tray that costs from 30p - 60p. We had veg biryani for dinner and veg curry with chapati for tea. Unfortunately we wouldn't be there to enjoy breakfast.
|Dinner - veg biryani|
After eating dinner we relaxed for a bit, had a little nap, read books and listened to music on our top bunks. We decided to stretch our legs and go for a walk and ended up stood at the open door watching India go past. While there we bought more coffee and some unidentified Indian snack & also ordered tea for that night. I kept getting an overwhelming feeling of happiness at this point as I had wanted to do this for so long and it was more fun than I expected.
We went back to our compartment to await our tea and after tea we read some more and played games before we went to sleep.We played pictionary for ages. Can you guess what this was? Clue - TV show - answers in the comments box please!
My guess was spring onion binoculars - what tv show is that?!
We both slept ok considering, apart from a really loud snoring man but my mp3 player drowned him out.
The only thing I hate about Indian trains is that there is no way of knowing where you are or what the next stop is. Trains are barely on time here but you never know if it is on time or not so you stand at the door at the time you are supposed to arrive and just wait and hope there will be a local around to tell you when to get off. As always, there was a helpful local who told us the train is late so our stop is 40 minutes away so we just stood there, backpacks on, waiting to arrive.
That is my only gripe, I really enjoyed the journey. It ended up being 20 hours, almost 1000 kilometres and cost £30 for both of us, makes you wonder about the £90 we paid for the train to London last year.