Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Udaipur, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai (India)

Arriving at the Udaipur train station over an hour early, we saw and heard no notice that our overnight train to Ahmedabad had been cancelled despite having checked the status a couple of hours previously. We only found out by asking the station manager a few minutes before it was supposed to leave. Our schedule was already tight traveling through Ahmedabad and Mumbai/Bombay to get to the southern state of Goa so this delay threw our carefully made plans for a serious loop.

We hailed another autorickshaw back to the city proper and headed straight for the nearest travel agent with power (Udaipur was in the middle of another cut). Our plans to actually stop and look around Ahmedabad and Mumbai were soon abandoned, and both cities have been hit pretty badly with the monsoon season anyway. However, we still had to get south somehow.

The plan involved taking an overnight bus from Udaipur to Ahmedabad and flying the rest of the way to Goa via a Mumbai stopover. Honestly, the overnight bus was pretty sketchy. Our double sleeper was a mat inside of a cubby hole with sliding glass doors the size of windows, which you reach by climbing a short ladder. The poor folks who only paid for sitting seats were underneath us, and the purported single sleepers were actually doubled up. Our backpacks had to go in the back trunk, supervised by a guy who demanded payment for both depositing and retrieving them. There was no air conditioning so the only airflow was through a tiny window in our cubby. Thankfully, someone on board must have been eating so I was grateful for the wafts of mint and cilantro... the alternative was a packed house of body odor. Sometime around 4 a.m., someone pounded on our "door" and told us our stop was next. We barely had time to grab our stuff before getting rushed off the bus. Deposited in the middle of the night in the middle of the road somewhere in Gujarat, we had no choice but to pay the only autorickshaw driver there his asking price for the Ahmedabad airport. Our hurried exit made Richard paranoid he had left our passports in the bus so we had a few exciting moments of "Follow that bus!" until he found them in our packs.

By comparison, our flights were uneventful. Mumbai airport was a blur through security and grabbing a couple of awful sandwiches. We eventually made it to Goa, where the monsoon rains met us so intensely that the plane actually had to make a second attempt for the landing.

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