Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

Motos

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Motos are motorbike taxis. They are everywhere here (Kigali). I was at the bus station and heading to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. My host had said it should be about 400 Rwandan Francs (about 40 pence). The first guy quoted me 1000. I said no, how about 500. Which another guy said he’d do. (There were about 7 of them laughing at me with my little map trying to tell them where I wanted to go. It was quite funny.) The first guy also agreed to 500 so I went with him. (The fact that the second guy jumped at the chance to take me for 500 confirmed that this was definitely not ripping him off and that the initial 1000 was an attempt to take me for a ride – pun intended.)

For those who haven’t read any of my previous posts about foreigner prices here’s a brief summary: of course local people want to charge foreigners as much as they can, foreigners have more money, 500 francs is a lot of money but 50 pence is not, however, not all foreigners have lots of money, it’s not fair to charge us more just because of the colour of our skin, if we let them get away with it then they will keep doing it and that makes it harder for the others coming after us. So I am in two minds – I don’t want to rip them off, I don’t mind paying a little extra, but I don’t want to get ripped off either. It’s a delicate balance. And the balance does depend on the mood I’m in, if I have eaten, how long the process is taking, whether I feel like I am being ripped off, etc.

Motos are an exercise in trust for me. I don’t find them thrilling or exhilarating. I find them quite terrifying. I want to tap the driver on the shoulder and tell him to slow down, put his phone away, don’t lean into that corner so much, don’t pass that car down that side, don’t try to overtake that truck, don’t stick your nose so far out into the traffic, etc. But I have never driven a moto. He has. A lot. This is what he does, every day. This is how he makes his living. He knows what he can and can’t do. And I should trust him. My judgement in this domain is not sound. Plus, letting go of my hand holds to tap him on the shoulder is certainly not possible after the thing has started moving.

So I hang on tight to the little handles that are beside and slightly behind me. All the muscles in both my arms are rigid with tension. I lean slightly forward and try to keep my core (and therefore my centre of mass) exactly where it is. When he leans into a corner, I try to go with him, or at least not fight him and pull him off balance. I close my eyes when it’s particularly frightening. I try to breathe. And I remind myself that this is an exercise in trust.

Getting a moto has now been ticked off my list and I didn’t die. So I don’t have to get another one, but if I do, I can do it with slightly more confidence.

Update: since writing this, I have been on two more motos. The second was by far the most terrifying. I had my rucksack on my back (and kept imagining falling off the back of the bike). The guy was going quite fast even after I told him to slow down. These were rural dirt roads with ruts all over them. There were a lot of hills. I kept gasping in fright. I had my eyes squeezed shut for most of it. Having the visor of my helmet fall off while we riding didn’t help matters either. The third moto ride was better. It was the same trip as the second but in reverse (by which I mean the opposite direction rather than the moto reversing along the road – that would have been silly!). I paid for a second moto to carry my bag. I listened to music on my MP3 player. I asked the bilingual guard of the school I was leaving to ask the driver to go slowly because I was very frightened. And he did. I then gave both moto drivers a tip to thank them for being so considerate and so helpful.

A Few Days in Kigali

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

My first stop on this adventure has been Kigali in Rwanda.

Travelling the world in 2016 is a very different prospect from what it was in 1999 when I first set off with a friend from Australia to Europe. I used AirBnB from the UK to find and pay for a room in a house in Kigali. I had some contact with my host before arriving. My plane landed in Kigali at about 11pm. By the time I got out of the airport it was midnight. But that was ok. There was an ATM where I could get local cash and a little kiosk selling SIM cards. So I had a local SIM in my phone with a data connection and could text my host to tell her I was on my way. I got a taxi to her place. She met me and gave me all the information I needed to get me set up for the next day. I could contact friends and family in Europe and Australia to let them know I was safe. Very different from 1999.

And despite having slept a lot on the plane I still slept well that night.

The next morning (Tuesday) I slept in and very lazily got up and sorted. I had a shower and washed some clothes from the previous day at the same time (stamping on them in the shower helps to push the detergent through them quite effectively and saves water).

I headed out with a few aims in mind: cross a road; buy water; get on a bus (preferably the right bus); go for a walk; find food. And I succeeded in all of these. I’m foreign, these things take considerably longer than they would for a normal, local person. But that’s part of the joy. 🙂

I got the bus into town and got off vaguely where I thought I wanted to be (not that I really knew where I wanted to be). I wandered around for a while and proceeded to get lost. (Well I was outside the Russian Embassy, just down from the Marriott hotel – so I wasn’t really lost – I just didn’t know where these places were.) I then checked the map to discover that I was heading in the opposite direction from where I wanted to be. So I turned around.

This is what travelling is all about. 🙂

I found somewhere for lunch and had a traditional Rwandan buffet. Though I just stuck with the veg options. I did realise part way through that I was breaking several of my food guidelines – I ate salad, I ate from a buffet, I didn’t peel the avocado myself. But my host had said that she brushes her teeth with tap water, so I guessed that any salad that had been washed in tap water was probably ok. I had a Coke with my lunch just to be on the safe side. Given that Coke can strip oil stains off driveways I figured it would kill anything I may have just put in my digestive system! (Note: this is a joke: I did not drink the Coke thinking that it would protect my health.)

After lunch I went for a wander to the Azizi Life boutique. Azizi Life are the organisation I’m visiting next week for their cultural experience days. There’s a café next door, so I sat in there for ages pottering around on my laptop and reading a bit. After all, this is meant to be a holiday!! 🙂

My host, very kindly came to meet me – she has a car. And we decided to go for dinner. She took me to this very lovely place where we sat by the pool overlooking the hills of Kigali. Gorgeous. And the pizza was pretty good too. 🙂 My host is lovely and chatting to her over dinner was fascinating. AirBnB is a fantastic idea!!

Wednesday was a ride on a moto (see the separate post about that) and a trip to the Kigali Genocide Memorial (a few separate posts about that). And the afternoon was buses to a coffee shop with a lovely view and great cake and a chance for me to write some blog posts after the morning.

This was also when the rainy season started. But there’s a separate post about that too.

So a lovely two days in Kigali. I think I could spend a lot of time here and not get bored, but I’m off tomorrow for the next stage in my Rwandan adventure.

I Thought I Might Die

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

There have been two times during my travelling where I have seriously considered the possibility/likelihood that I might actually die. Not just being frightened about something (I don’t like heights, I get nervous on the second step of a ladder). But actually thinking I might die.

The first was on a bus in China. It was about 3am and the bus was driving the wrong way down the motorway (at speed) honking its horn to warn oncoming drivers. We had done this because our side of the road was blocked by a truck that had jackknifed.

The second was on a boat in Jaffna in Sri Lanka. The waves were very high. The boat was basically an oversized canoe with an engine. Even the guy from the Coast Guard who does that trip regularly was frightened.

There have been other times when I have been somewhat nervous about death or serious injury:

  • climbing the staircase at Sigiriya
  • taking a Benedryl capsule from a nurse I met on a bus (well, she told me she was a nurse)
  • riding on the back of a motorbike in Sri Lanka (we ran over a cat)
  • a bus in Jaffna in Sri Lanka overtaking slowly over road works that meant the bus was tilting quite a lot
  • being on a bus in Sri Lanka that was driving so fast over the potholes that we were all being bounced 10-20cm out of our seats
  • crossing a very scary log bridge in Nepal

I really don’t want to die. Nor do I want to suffer serious physical injury. And I really try not to take silly risks. (Though getting on the back of a motorbike, or jumping in the back of a pick-up truck, or getting a ferry from KKD in Jaffna, or getting on a bus in Sri Lanka may all seem like silly risks to the more sensible amongst you.)

And while I’m planning to live to at least 125 (I’m going to gain immortality, or die in the attempt (apologies to whoever I’ve stolen that from, Wilde?)) I do actually want to LIVE till I’m at least 125. And life, if done correctly, certainly involves risks!

Going Home

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I’m going home (for some definition of home – in this case, London) in September. My flight is booked for the 29th.

There are several reasons for this.

I knew when I booked my return flight for February that there was very little chance of me going back on that date. But I really wasn’t sure what things were going to be like out here (from the point of view of productive work for me to do). Plus, there are issues in my Indian family and I wasn’t sure if or how they would affect things. And I wasn’t sure how much I was going to miss the UK. And I wasn’t sure when/if I was going to run out of money.

And the result of all of these considerations is that heading back on the 29th of September is the right thing to do.

The Behaviour Management programme that we have been running here has been a great success and we want to run a follow-up programme with these schools and the same programme (with some improvements) in new schools. We’d like to do that at the start of the next academic year, which is June 2015.

In order for me to be able to be back here in June next year, I need to go back to the UK early so that I can earn some money to fund me through next year. If I go back in February, I won’t earn enough before June to be able to come then.

Plus, I am missing the UK and my friends there (as well as all the usual things that I miss: clean feet, tea with no sugar, bread, cheese, toast, brushing my teeth with tap water, hot showers). Of course, these are all important but I’m used to missing them all and they’re not enough to make me actually want to change my flight.

But there is a new element in the mix this time. Dancing. I have REALLY been missing it. And there is a showcase in London in October. Now, there are lots of different dancing events all the time, so missing the London showcase would not be the end of the world, and that’s not something to change my flights for. But since I was changing the flight anyway, arranging things so that I’ll be back in time for the showcase seemed sensible. 🙂

The issues with the family here are certainly having an effect as well. Not to the point that I want to leave, but the issues are a definite source of worry.

So here is my plan for the next two months. The current batch of volunteers finish up at the end of August. There is a Keralan festival (Onam) at the start of September, then I’m hoping to take Johnson and Lisba to Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks for a holiday! (And for me to meet up with lots of my Sri Lankan friends.) Then back to India for the end of September and my flight back to the UK on the 29th.

Then it’s London and working and dancing and catching up with people till the start of March. Then Cambridge and Easter Revision till the end of April. Then back to India again in May or June to do it all over again!

And everything in this plan makes me very happy! 🙂

Minor Bus Issues

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Becky and I got a bus home from Trivandrum. The bus left the city at about 7:15pm. We guessed it would take us just under an hour and we’d be able to meet two of the volunteers at about 8:30. In fact, it started to look like we might be early! (Noticing this was probably our first mistake!) 🙂

It took help from a few people and several attempts for us to pronounce Karumkulum sufficiently well for the conductor to figure out where we were going. But we got there in the end and several people giggled heartily at our expense.

The bus was scooting along quite happily. Becky had a small beetle fly down her top at one point. A couple of tree branches decided that the inside of the bus was more fun and tried to kiss Becky (that’ll teach her to steal the window seat!! 😉 ). But apart from these small points it was all going well.

We went through Mukkola and just before Pulluvila we turned left.

Now this is odd.

We don’t usually do that!

The bus turned off the highway and stopped immediately. There was lots of shouting. Lots of people were saying ‘Pulluvila’ (which is a bit further on, but still several villages before we wanted to get off). I asked some people on the bus “Karumkulum? This bus?” and they all said “Ok, ok.” So I assumed we were ok. I asked the conductor he seemed to imply that we should stay on the bus.

I figured we were going to detour for a bit and then rejoin the highway later. I do have google maps on my phone so I could keep a bit of an eye on what we were up to. But I had faith. As did Becky. It’s an exciting adventure. And if worst came to worst, we’d end up in Poovar and then get an auto from there.

So we sat back to enjoy the ride.

Others were not so content.

One man was shouting at the conductor and swung a punch at him (though missed). The conductor swung back (but missed). The man got off the bus and as he was walking down the steps of the bus the conductor kicked at him (and missed).

I don’t think he was happy!

The road was quite narrow. So Becky made more friends with more trees. While several of the men on the bus were shouting (nicely) at us to watch her eyes as more tree branches popped in to say hi.

One guy we were talking to told us that the road was closed because of a church festival. Ahhhh, St Jacob’s in Pulluvila, the big church that broadcasts mass at 5am every day and during festival time broadcasts music and dramas etc. till about 1am. That made sense.

This guy was a fisherman who had worked in Muscat in Oman so was trying to teach us some Arabic (it didn’t work very well, I’m afraid).

I checked google maps a couple of times and figured out that either we’d end up on the other main road and go straight to Poovar (where the bus terminated, a few kms past where we wanted to be) and we could then get an auto back. Or, we’d turn right at some point and end up rejoining the highway at Puthiyathura (a few kms before where we wanted to be). Either way, we’d figure it out when it happened and we’d still ultimately end up in the right place.

Though I wasn’t entirely sure. Our positioning according to Google Maps wasn’t exactly accurate. Which doesn’t surprise me. I have infinite faith in Google, but not so much faith in India to actually adhere to a map, no matter how accurately it was drawn. 🙂

We did indeed turn right and came down the hill past St Nicholas school (where I had taught a class that very morning). The guy said we were at Puthiyathura. I said “Yep, that’s St Nicholas school. We are teachers.”. He asked which class and I told him. I also said that we taught in Kochutura, Karumkulum and Adimalathura. He seemed impressed (as were the rest of the bus as the message got passed along).

But we had a bit of a problem at Puthiyathura junction. We were coming down the hill about to rejoin the highway. There were some cars in front of us. There was a bus heading towards us (having just turned off the highway).

Now I walk along that road to school, there’s almost not enough room for me (as a pedestrian) to be overtaken by a school bus. I wasn’t convinced that the road was wide enough for two buses.

But it is India and the normal rules of space and time do not apply here.

So we reversed a bit. And managed not to hit the concrete wall of the house next to us. But we did go over a giant tree trunk that was lying on the ground. We tipped up and then back down over it. The bus did not fall over though, so that was good.

Becky and I considered getting off the bus and walking to the junction and then getting an auto from there, but we decided the whole bus adventure was way too much fun so we stayed put. You just don’t get this much value from 23 pence worth of bus time in the UK! 🙂

It was at about this point that we realised we were going to be late after all and that we probably should not have thought that we might be early. India has a way of knowing when you think things are going well and then throwing a tree trunk in your path just to liven things up a bit. 🙂

We texted the volunteers to tell them that we were having minor bus issues but would be there within half an hour.

The tree trunk was eventually moved and the bus managed to manoeuvre itself closer to the concrete wall. And then, before my very eyes, but without me having any idea how it happened, the oncoming bus went past us. I’m quite sure that if I go back to that road with a tape measure and measure the width of the road and the width of two buses, I will discover that what happened was not strictly possible. 🙂

We then went round the corner and headed off on our way.

The whole bus got quite excited as we got close to Karumkulum junction. And we hastily explained that we didn’t want this stop, we were going to the school which was two stops further on. Our determination won out over their determination and we managed to get down at the place we wanted. (No small achievement!)

We then walked round the corner to collect one volunteer and walked down the road to visit another and spent an hour chatting to them both about one of their classes. We also got birthday cake because it was the host sister’s birthday.

At 10pm we decided we really had to leave to go home and lo and behold as we walked out the door wondering if we’d be able to get an auto, one pulled up outside the front gate (the guy parks it there and lives across the street). He was very happy to drive us all home and charged us a reasonably fee!

By the time we went past Pulluvila, the festival was sufficiently over for the road to be passable though there were a lot of people out.

So, another exciting bus trip in India! But all’s well that ends well! 🙂

Indian Traffic and Argentine Tango

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

I was enjoying the Indian traffic during my first auto ride after getting back to India. And I know that ‘enjoying’ is a rather odd word to use. But I really was. There is a poetry and ballet about Indian traffic. What may look like complete chaos to the outside observer does have some quite intricate patterns when you know what you’re looking for. But don’t apply the normal rules of traffic aesthetics!

And I was thinking about how crazy this seemed and how hard it would be to explain this to anyone else. About how I could see beauty and pattern in something that is apparently chaotic. And I was reminded of the Argentine Tango.

I have a distinct love/hate relationship with the Argentine Tango. At first I thought it ugly, chaotic, inefficient, ridiculous. Then I actually tried it and it went down in my estimations. I was frustrated, annoyed, constantly in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing, and frequently hurting other people. It doesn’t flow. It is full of obstacles. It lacks symmetry and regularity. If you do it wrong someone gets hurt! (Sorry Victor! Sorry Aga! Sorry Daniel!) But after devoting some time to it and trying to relax and be patient I’ve started to not hate it so much. I stopped comparing it the other dances. I stopped looking for the patterns that I wanted to see. I started to give myself up to the dance. I started to just breathe and to listen to my partner’s body and to move. I started to slow down and do away with my expectations.

I still don’t really love it, but I have enjoyed dancing it on several occasions. It shall remain for me a dance that I do to prove to myself that I can get over my natural tendencies and dance outside of my comfort zone. And I am now convinced that there is beauty in there for me to find if I just stick at it long enough and open my eyes in the right way.

So back to Indian traffic. It is chaotic and insane. Like Argentine Tango, people can get hurt if you misjudge the situation. But there is beauty and elegance in the dance of the vehicles. There are patterns. They just aren’t the ones we’re used to. Indian traffic flows. Indian traffic is about intuition. It is about abandoning yourself to the movement of what’s around you. And if you encounter Indian traffic and find it difficult then try not to look at it with eyes that are accustomed to British traffic. Don’t look for the beauty of the Waltz in the Argentine Tango. Breathe and put your judgements aside. Accept the traffic. Laugh at the traffic. Flow with the traffic.

And for goodness sake, be exceptionally careful when crossing roads!! You could get seriously hurt out there!

The Magic of India

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

I had a few trepidations about my trip to India this time. Part of this is due to the fact that I had several really difficult goodbyes this time. And while I was looking forward to coming to India, I really didn’t want to leave London.

I landed in Trivandrum and even the air in the terminal is hot, thick Indian air. The first few lungfulls always feel heavy. It was 32 degrees when I landed. I got my bag and went out to meet Johnson.

And I haven’t stop smiling since then. Johnson is incredible. He is one of my absolute favourite people in the world and seeing him again was wonderful.

And then we had to get into an auto.

My first auto ride each time I’m back in India is the weaving of a magic spell. It is a physical incantation that provides protection, that changes your perception, that fills you with joy, that opens your eyes to the beauty and the wonder that is India.

The sights, the smells, the noises, feeling of the wind on my skin, the taste of the air on my tongue.

An auto is the perfect way to travel in India. It is immediate – there is no barrier between you and the world around you. It is intimate – just you and 2 (or possibly 6) of your closest friends.  It is isolating (it’s quite noisy so conversation can be difficult) so it allows you to be alone with your thoughts and to appreciate the wonder of the moment. It is small and can manoeuvre into the cosiest of spaces between trucks and vans and cars and buses – you can reach out and touch the people in the next auto.

India is a fantastic (I mean that in the sense of being pure fantasy) place. It is awe-inspiring. It is hilarious. It is cute. It is farcical.

The colours. The people. The animals. The chaos.

  • Fruit sellers on the side of the road at 8pm packing 6 different types of mangoes into twisted newspaper and tying it with string.
  • Roadside rubbish swept into neat piles and being slowly redistributed by a family of goats.
  • Stores lit up that sell every type of plastic receptacle you could possibly wish for.
  • A husband riding a motorbike at speed with his wife sitting behind him holding their baby, asleep, in her arms.
  • A barefoot and determined grandmother striding back home with pack of bananas.
  • A young boy from the local shop carelessly crossing the road with a plastic tray holding two dozen eggs.
  • A group of teenage boys hanging around outside the internet café comparing photos on their phones (probably of Malayalam movie actors).
  • An old man and his grandson sitting on the sand outside the temple.
  • Palm trees swaying gently in the hot, damp, fertile air.
  • Crows squawking their dominance.
  • Car headlights reflecting off the gold jewellery of the women.
  • The reds, pinks, greens, blues, purples, blacks, whites, yellows (and everything in between) of the saris and churidar of the women walking home.
  • Teenagers without bags each clutching a notebook and pencil case to their chest as they gossip about class.
  • The lights and floral decorations of a house that is hosting a wedding, or a funeral, or a baptism, or some other family event.
  • The neon and the noise of a church broadcasting the sermon and the songs through the loudspeakers of the village.
  • The lush green of the trees, bushes, palms, bananas, coconut trees, rice paddies.
  • The rollercoaster ride that is dodging the traffic and the potholes (they’ve been cultivating the potholes since last year).
  • Piles of sand or stones or bricks on the side/middle of the road waiting to be added to the never-ending extensions that every house seems to be undergoing.
  • Saris, shirts, bedsheets drying on the line.
  • Houses painted like a pack of liquorice allsorts. Some pink, some blue, some purple, some striped.

 

And every time I come back, I know that the first auto ride will be magical. And every time I do it, it is always orders of magnitude more magical than I thought it would be. India is in my heart and my soul. And each time I come back, it welcomes me home. 🙂

Note: some of my friends have expressed an interest in coming to visit me in India. Or in fact, to just visit India. And with every fibre of my being I say DO IT!!! Don’t wait till later. Start planning it now! And let me know when you’ve booked your flight. I’ll be waiting at the airport with an auto and magic spell just for you! 🙂

Getting to Poonthura – Part 5 – Chennai to Trivandrum

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

The bus was due to leave at 8. We were at the bus station early so we sat around chatting and watching the world go by. I was reminiscing over other bus journeys I’d had. I hoped this one would not be as scary as my Chinese bus experience where we drove the wrong way down the motorway at about 3 in the morning to avoid a jackknifed truck.

I’ve also heard lots of horror stories about Indian buses, but I suspect most of them were about the smaller local buses rather than these private AC fancy buses.

This bus was very nice. It had seats that reclined quite a way and the bit behind your calves came up as well. There were power sockets by the seats. There was a pillow and a blanket. The AC was cold! The attendant brought us a bottle of water and packet of juice. There was a video (rather loud and probably in Tamil so I didn’t really pay much attention).

I slept.

Though I found it a bit difficult to get comfortable. Might be that I’m shorter than average so the seats probably aren’t designed with my body size and shape in mind. With the pillow wedged behind my back my head could fall back a bit, though a bit too much, so my neck and back got a bit sore. Without the pillow, the headrest pushed my head forward a bit too much so my neck and back got a bit sore. Ah well, buses are never the most comfortable places for sleeping. And the muscle aches would go away. But I did get quite a bit of sleep so that was good. Plus, I never feared for my life. Which is a bonus! That might have been because I was too busy sleeping and not paying sufficient attention. But I think it was actually just a good bus and sensible driver.

Once we got to Trivandrum we found an auto which took us to Poonthura.

And a room with a bed that was horizontal and not moving!

It’s nice to be home!

A very big thank you to Johny (and his friend) for coming all the way to Chennai to meet me. It was a fabulous adventure and I’m very glad I didn’t get the expensive flight direct to Trivandrum! 🙂

Getting to Poonthura – Part 4 – Chennai

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

So we had a few hours in Chennai. We’d booked a hotel for two nights when we’d initially thought we’d be staying for two nights.

The auto driver who had taken us to the bus station then took us to the hotel. Via a couple of food places so we could get some lunch.

The traffic in Chennai at that time of the day was horrendous so it took us ages.

But by 2pm we were in the hotel. We were leaving again at 5:30 to head back to the bus station for our bus.

So not long in Chennai. And the traffic meant that we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere or see anything.

Ah well, a shower was in order and some food and some resting and some chatting.

And before we knew it, it was time to head off.

Traffic at 5:30 was even worse! But we made it to the bus station and found a place to eat.

Dinner was chappatis, wade, curry and fresh orange juice. Very, very nice indeed!

We three all agreed that we like Trivandrum much more than we like Chennai but, to be fair, we didn’t really give Chennai much of a chance.

We’ve seen quite a bit of Chennai, from the back of an auto. It’s busy, dirty, smelly, big, crowded. Almost certainly not the worst city in the world (or in India) but not exactly pleasant. Though it was interesting to drive through it. I have no idea how kids on bicycles can navigate those roads and that traffic.

I laughed at intersections with vehicles of all types going in all directions (most seeming to ignore the traffic signals completely) and the funniest bit was the pedestrians just walking through the middle of it all.

Having to stop to wait for some water buffalo to walk down the road (the wrong way) before we could do our U-turn was also quite funny. As was the fact that the only reason we could do the turn there was because someone had come and ripped up the concrete blocks that divided the two sides of the road. Johny and I both suspected this act of vandalism had been carried out by the auto drivers.

The bus that knocked another concrete block into the middle of the lane of oncoming traffic was also interesting. But a few people did stop to manhandle it out of the way.

So, if nothing else, the traffic in Chennai is interesting. 🙂

Getting to Poonthura – Part 3 – Working Out How to Leave Chennai

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Since we were at the station, we decided that trying to get train tickets back to Trivandrum for two days’ time would be a good idea. And it was. A good idea, that it is. Turns out we couldn’t get them. But trying certainly was a good idea. On the upside, we could get tickets in 2 months. Hmmm. Not exactly useful.

So we found an auto to take us to the main bus station to see if we could get a bus.

Hmmmm. Not looking likely. There are several bus companies and each seems to have their own ticket office. The boys left me in the auto with the bags while they wandered around trying to get tickets.

We were trying for overnight on the following night (21st) but were having no luck.

I suggested we try for overnight tonight. Not a great idea but at least we’d get back. Which was, after all, the important thing.

That proved to be more successful.

There was a bus/coach leaving at 8pm that could fit the three of us on it. And at 12 hours it was quicker than the train! At 1200INR (about 14GBP) each it was much more expensive than the train. But there were seats.

Once again, my awesome tour guides/bodyguards/translators/friends managed to sort everything out for me. Thanks!!! 🙂