Trainin’ in India

I thought long and hard about the clever titles I could have used for this post, but then I gave up. There are so many train songs and three of them are currently playing in my head at the same time. Oh well. This post will be especially interesting to you if you plan on visiting India and taking the train in the near future. Train story begins now:

When I was planning my trip to India, I kept hearing about the rail system. Both blogs and past travelers had me terrified that I would be sharing my seat with a few cockroaches, all while being stared at incessantly. In reality, after taking a 13-hour train ride from Mumbai to Goa, I actually found that the Indian train system is both functional and comfortable.

No bugs in sight!

When researching just how to take the train in India, I stumbled across a few websites that made booking a train seem harder than a quantum physics exam. There were numbers and words that meant absolutely nothing to me. Once arriving in India, however, www.cleartrip.com was recommended to me, and it made the booking process easy and quick. I just found the correct train (I took the Mandovi Express train which departs at around 7am) and booked with my credit card. Tada! The only hiccup was that I originally booked for the AC1 class. However, I was put on the waiting list, and after finding out that the AC1 class has very few seats, I decided to switch to AC2 in order to get a confirmed seat.

Thankfully, the manager at the hostel I was staying at in Mumbai offered to drop me off at the station. This made things a lot easier, as taxi and rickshaw drivers in Mumbai are perpetually lost and late.

Once arriving at the station, which was quite busy, the next challenge was figuring out what track to wait at. After being unable to find a sign referring to the Mandovi Express, I asked several people, all of whom said different things. Thankfully, I finally heard an overhead announcement about the train, and heard that the train was delayed by an hour. No big deal. They even had a ladies-only waiting room, where I sat on the floor and admired the sarees that surrounded the room.

After finding the area of the track for 2AC passengers for a while, the train finally came. It was much nicer than anticipated! No bugs, not too much dirt, lots of air conditioning, the works! That made the next 13 hours go by surprisingly quick. The best part, though, was the constant people going by selling delicious foods and drinks. By the end of the trip, I had consumed chai (of course), dosas, some sort of fried potato sandwich thing, a cheese sandwich, a veggie patty with peanuts in it, a box of cookies and a bag of Masala flavoured chips. Clearly, I will not be losing weight in India like I thought I would. Currently, though, I’m blaming it on my non-existent tape worm. Buddy just keeps forcing me to eat, I swear!

There should have been 4 people in this berth but the train wasn’t very busy so we were able to spread out. Good thing after all that food.

Overall, it was a relaxing, comfortable and delicious journey. If you are ever looking into booking an Indian train ride, I suggest cleartrip.com, either 1AC or 2AC class, and a wallet full of small rupee bills for delicious Indian food. Sure, the general classes looked super crowded and if you’re up for that, go ahead, but the Indian rail experience is not as stressful as you might hear it is.

Now I’m in Goa and enjoying the laid back atmosphere. Sure, it’s monsoon time which means there’s been a lot of rain, but that cools it down a bit. It also means it’s low season so the people selling various things on the side of the road are constantly yelling, “Miss! Just come look! I give you cheap price!”. It also means the hostel I’m staying at is the equivalent of $3/night. The room doesn’t have air conditioning so everything is constantly damp, but there’s Wifi and a bed, so I’m happy.

I’ve never consumed so much water in my life. I’ve also never sweated so much, so I guess that makes sense.

Now I’m off to the beach. Well, as ready as I can be after all that food. Hmm. Maybe I’ll just find a bar and a bottle of Kingfisher. Yep, that sounds like a plan.

After a short plane ride I’ll be in Delhi tomorrow, which I’ve heard is even more chaotic than Mumbai. Should be fun!

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