Well is been a few months since we have been back from India so I thought it was about time I wrote about our trip as a whole and to supply some tips for anyone who is thinking on a extensive trip around the country, and to also say some thanks to the many helpful people we met on the way. The first thing I would like to say to anyone who is going to travel around the country for the first time like us is don’t imagine that anything you are used to in the western world will be the same in India, like the roads, transport system, way of life and the infrastructure it is total and utter chaos in a nice way I might add, the people are wonderful and so very helpful, but if you approach your trip with a very open mind, expect the unexpected you will not go far wrong.
Driving or being driven in India is just like being in a surreal version of Mad Max or a demolition derby without in the main any contact, add to this the conditions of the roads “I use the term roads loosely” with potholes so big you could loose a small child down with conditions similar to driving off road. Add to all of this that there appears to be no driving laws at all, even the traffic police have no control as we discovered when a uniformed officer tried to stop the traffic to let other vehicles cross the junction but no one took any notice and he was nearly run over, quite how many people are killed or injured in a year one only wonders. With all the above in mind don’t let it put you off as it can be quite hilarious at times, just try to relax and enjoy the trip.
During our trip we had four train journeys planned. We booked our tickets using the Cleartrip.com website also we got a lot of useful advice from the “Man in seat 61” website, also we viewed various videos on YouTube in regards to the seating so we though we were pretty well set. Our first journey from Jaipur to Ranthambore was quite pleasant seating was just as we had researched, we met a very nice Indian family and had a very pleasant journey. There were plenty of food and drink vendors walking up and down the train selling all sorts, samosas, dosa’s, fruit etc. toilet facilities were not bad, not the conventional toilet pan variety I might add just the hole in the ground sort, it seemed quite strange standing there doing your business and watching the train tracks fly past you underneath. The downside to this system is when standing at the train station waiting for your train to arrive the strong smell of human excrement is overpowering, I say no more. Our second journey was a different story all together. On boarding the train at Ranthanbore to Agra “which incidentally was two hours late” it became immediately apparent that our trip was not going to be quite as smooth. The train had started its journey some 24hrs or more from where we had boarded all the compartments had their curtains drawn and it was extremely dark and this was at miday so there was no natural light coming in, we also discovered that the three of us were split up even though the tickets were all booked together, the girls were at one end of the carriage and me at the other also I forgot to mention that someone still had their bunk made and was in asleep in my seat “sounds like the three bears story”, so because of this we all decided to sit together on a not very comfortable isle seat. After a while I needed to give my numb backside a rest and decided to walk along the train, so with action camera running off I went. On reaching the end of our carriage I could not believe my eyes, you see in the area in between the carriages were the toilets and washing facilities, I witnessed a Indian chap stripped to his pants having a wash, other people asleep on the floor, a card school in progress and the most disgusting toilet facilities I’ve seen, we all could not wait to get off. So the decision was made that to endure three hours on a train under these conditions was bad enough but we all felt that an overnight journey would be to much to endure, so our trip to the Hampi was cancelled who as it turned out to be a good thing, see below.
Whilst we were in India we had four internal flights booked, two with Indigo and two with SpiceJet. Our flights with Indigo were excellent, we knew what they were like from previous experience, but our dealings with SpiceJet was somewhat different. Our first flight from Cochin to Bangalore was ok but not as polished as our Indigo experience, they seemed to be less organised and professional, they even tried to charge us excess baggage on arrival at the check-in desk even though we had paid for our excess in advance. The next problem was the fact that our flight from Bangalore to Hubli was changed to a little know military airport called Belguam as the runway was closed at Hubli for resurfacing, which was not ideal as Belguam airport was some two and a half hours further on by road making our total journey from Hampi approx six hours by road, and if anyone has travelled by road any distance in Indian would know can be a nightmare. So we decided to add a couple of more nights to our stay in Mysore and change our flight from Bangalore to Hubli to Bangalore back to Mumbai for our connecting flight back home, but as I wrote in my post on Bangalore the day before we were due to fly to Mumbai SpiceJet cancelled our flight altogether “great” but thankfully we managed to get a flight on the same day with trusty Indigo.
- Mumbai: Residency Fort: Hotel Meluha The Fern:
- Jaipur: Om Niswas Hotel
- Ranthambhore: Ranthambhore National Regency
- Agra: Hotel Taj Resorts
- New Delhi: La Sagrita
- Fort Cochin Kerala: Hotel Maison Casero
- Munnar: Dream Catcher Plantation
- Mysore: Hotel Fortune Palace
And special thank you to all at Stanley Wilson Travel for our transport in Cochin and Munnar.