Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The train to Gorukhpur

When “air-conditioned sleeper 2-tier class" wasn't available, but first class was, and first class was much cheaper, alarms bells should have rung. We heard their sweet tinkle minutes after boarding. The expected 5 and a half hour overnight journey took 14 hours to Gorukhpur in sweltering heat in a locked compartment in a cattle truck called first class. Of course we were very glad not to be in second class….We had two beds between the four of us, but we had a compartment to ourselves – which didn't stop people from trying to get in all night and peering in when they couldn't open the door. We had to keep the (barred) window open in order not to overheat, but then try to wake up at every station throughout the night to close it to stop people peering in. Which made for a lot of sleep.
We did pass through some gorgeous countryside in the morning, mainly rice paddies. Of course the train liked to stop for about 30 minutes at random villages along the way. When we eventually got to Gorukhpur we were efficiently transferred straight onto a crushed “ordinary" bus for the 3 hour journey to the border with Nepal at Sunauli. It's a good thing that children thrive on a diet of mineral water and crisps.

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