Thursday, 15 April 2010

So after about 12 days in India, off we headed to Nepal. Our Indian escpades have probably been the best and worst experiences of our trip. Its a country of opposites: extravagant marble and carved wood palaces within view of slums and beggar, big 4W drive trucks being driven by men in suits, surrounded by an army of small skinny men cycling rickshaws or dragging trailors of food behind them. One would walk down the street, and every 20 or so paces the smell of sewerage would be interrupted with the sweet smell of insence. It was a shame we didnt spend more time in India, as we never made it to Jodphur or Pushkar, and the very north and very south are meant to be better than the Rajasthan region.

Anyhoo, we had a train booked at 10pm to whisk us out of agra towards gorahkpur - a 13 or so hour journey. Not so bad we thought assuming the sleeper carriage isnt that full. Famous last words. The train pulled into the station, arms and legs flailing out of windows, and faces pushed against glass - and so began the worst day i have experienced travelling.

After pushng our way through swarms of people and their bags in the already narrow aisle, we eventually found our berth. The train was literally full to bursting. Space under seats and spare buks had already been taken up with bags so our bags had to stay on the seat with us. Within the next hour or so, people started to find their positions - on mats on the floors, propped up between 2 bunks, hanging out of open doors etc. We flipped the bunks down, Emily was on the top, Alec the middle and me the bottom. My bag was at the foot of my bed and my rucksack was my pillow. It was quite a cool night as the fans were all on and the windows were thrown open. We even had our own little audiences. I had 4 women wearing saris sitting on the bunk opposite me. Every so often they would stare at me and frown. Emily had 2 guys watching her on the opposite top bunk, one of which was filming her read with his camera phone. He then went on to download the photos onto his laptop. Where 'photos of blonde white girl reading book on train' have ended up now g-d only knows. Lets just hope they are on some tasteful website :P

However, as the sun started to rise, through 9am, 10am, 11am, the train seemed to stop longer and longer in the stations. This combined with the fact i couldnt stretch out let alone get out of my bunk for fear of stepping on anyone (when i went to the toilet in the toilet I was sure i kicked someone in the face) - also combined with the fact that there was a 3 year old girl who seemed to like running around and whacking her head with a plastic bottle - she then proceeded to jump on it. After 4 hours of cracking plastic, one find themselves very tempted to throw the afoementioned 3 year old girl out of the door. Around midday, the temperature in the train was somewhere above stifling. With repeated long stops in the middle of nowhere, very rarely was there a breeze to flush out the stale air. Sometime around 2ish, after lying on the cramped plastic bunks with minimal movement for about 12 hours now, getting hotter and hotter and running seriously low on water, me and emily went to the toilet. I was then sick and came very close to fainting. My eyesight was blurry and for a few minutes I could so very little. I had never even come close to fainting before so naturally i was a bit freaked. For the next 20 mins i sat by the open door of the train watching the Indian countryside pass me by whilst alec got me some water.

Unknown to us, the seemingly pointless stops had meant we still had 3 more hours left of this awful journey. Alec and emily folded the bunk back down to make the bench, and we sat reading and sweating, mainly sweating. When asked by one of the locals why we didnt go into the air conditioned car, we replied we couldnt afford it. Note to self: listen to the advice of the locals and never go in a sleep car again. After being both physically and mentaly drained from the 15 hour train journey, we EVENTUALLY pulled up on gorakphur. Here we got a 1 hour cab ride to the border town of saunnali, a rickshaw through customs and across the border and were dropped off at a tour place in NEPAL!! It then decided to hail it down. A bad omen or not, it bought the temperature down a couple nof valuable degrees so we were happy. We booked our bus to kathmandu and 10 mins later we boarded. Non airconditioned and leg room that would make even ryanaire shudder, we would be crammed in like this for another 9 hours. The roads were fecking awful. There wasnt a sinlge smooth patch of road between aunali and kathmandu. About 2 inches above my head i was the corner of the lugguage rack so every bump the bus flew over sent me flying into this luggage rack. There were also random bars, poles and loose nails sticking out everywhere to bump and catch yourself on - not ideal when you are being thrown in all directions - even more so when a fat guy who smells of curry insists on resting his head on your shoulder even when you had elbowed him enough times for him to surely get the hint. And for some reason, THROUGHOUT the night the bus driver insisted on playing generic bhangra music at full volume - of course the old bus speakers couldnt handle this volume so a lot of the time it was painful and scratchy to listen to.

Just to summarise - over the past 3 days we have eaten little, slept little, showered little/none, are covered in bruises and are generally pissed off with life. The minute we got to kathmandu at 6am, we slep through till lunch time, got up, had lunch at which point I came down with a fever so went to bed early....

The silver lining though, is the everest trek has been booked. 16th april, me and alec are on our way to the everest base camp :D.

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