Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘trains’

Our Day With The Tran Family

In Vietnam on September 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hue was our next stop over on the long coast road down to Saigon. We attacked the trip in one long haul from Sapa with an overnight bus to Hanoi, arriving at 4.30am and then an ongoing 10am train to Hue, arriving at 2.30am the following day. A total of 30 hours travelling.

The Vegas bus

As always with these long trips there are highs and lows. A 5am roadside beer in Hanoi was a particular highlight that starved off the imminent tiredness and the 16 hour train journey where we shared cigarettes and the Top Gear Vietnam episode with the conductors was a great memory.

Timer shot for the 5am beers in Hanoi, 12 hour bus ride done and not even half way to Hue

Because we wanted to save as much money as possible we went third class on the train in the wooden hard seat section. Sitting there it’s as if they’re trying to punish you for being cheap, the seats are constructed with slatted boards with a bolt upright back. So we chose to sleep on the dusty floor instead, which was comfortable until we woke up with necks feeling like we’d been in a severe head on collision.

Ready for a rough ride

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Alea Iacta Est

In India on May 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

It began on the bus from McLeod Ganj to Amritsar. Filip, Minja and I came up with the unoriginal idea of letting a die decide where to go next. I had plans to go to Agra and Varanasi on the way to Kolkata and the other two didn’t have a clue where to go.

Filip was dieing to get to the next destination

So, we purchased a very cheap and small die from a 7 in 1 game pack from a toy shop near the Golden Temple and arrived on Sunday morning bright and early at the train station to find the perfect roller. We wanted someone who would understand the enormity of the task assigned to them, so they would probably need to speak English and also someone with a good character so they’d become part of the game. We’d already randomly assigned the six places we’d like to visit to the six sides, some wacky and some obvious, through picking out of a tibetan style hat. It was necessary to do this because the die was lopsided and had a tendency to favour the 2 and 5.

The six destinations of destiny

Why did I waste my money on that stupid hat?

As we announced our intentions to a few of the hassling rickshaw drivers on the train station forecourt a crowd started to gather. I felt like Dave Gorman on one of his missions or Dave Cameron on the campaign trail. One Sikh man turned us down, “You don’t want a rickshaw then it’s not my job” and out of nowhere the perfect gent stepped into the circle to take centre stage and do the deed. The five foot tall drunk in orange rags was explained his duty in hindi and kindly obliged to accept the challenge. A throw to the floor and the number, as half expected but not certain, was a 5. We were off to Jaisalmer. That is the place Lonely Planet says you’re mad as a dog to go to during the summer.

He was the man for the job and got paid generously for it

The fatal five

We went straight to the station manager to ask for advice on how we can complete our mission and he sold us an interesting but extremely confusing train timetable, Trains at a Glance. We roughly deciphered a route from the map but after going back and forth from the booking and reservation offices left without tickets and decided to return on the day to see if we could blag it.

Monday morning and we’d discovered the previous afternoon from helpful travel agents that it was best to go from Jalander City (70km from Amritsar) and get the 13.30 train to Jodhpur and then the day after get the 23:something from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. A massive mission but we had to complete it because the die had spoken.

A two hour government bus to Jalander and with half an hour to spare we’d made it and had the vital 2nd class tickets to Jodhpur. We of course blagged it all of the way in sleeper class to the annoyance of some polite families who hadn’t the heart to tell us to move and a very kind conductor who hadn’t the language skills or time to fine us.

We decided to hop off the train early in order to sleep properly at Bikaner where we had a fantastic day waiting for the 23:something night train the next day to Jaisalmer. We did most of the sights the town has to offer. A camel farm/research centre (the only one in the world), a rat temple (also, probably the only one in the world) and the old fort (one of many in Rajasthan).

Not as good as goats milk. Camel is the salty, more lean alternative

Not a place for the squeamish. The Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner