Let's take the trainMay 10 in India
We could write an article about the booking system, waiting lists and the numerous classes because this is where the adventure 'taking a train in India' actually starts. But we were lucky that our tickets got confirmed just in the night before the departure day and we could still reach the station (we had booked different trains from different stations on different dates to increase our chances of getting a ticket - Indian holiday season was starting and trains are booked months in advance so that you usually end up on waiting lists).
But how to take bicycles on an Indian train? We had heard different stories: Book it as luggage and put it in the luggage cart, book it as freight so that it would travel on a different train, just take it with you in your cabin. The first two options were not possible at the minor train station we had chosen, the staff there appeared helpless. We didn’t like these options anyway, so we had to go for the last one (which is not allowed...).
Waiting at the station became endless, we got there around noon to check it out, the train was supposed to depart in the late afternoon and we were still sitting there in the darkness, our bicycles prepared (handlebars turned, pedals removed to make them as slim as possible), our panniers stuffed into rice sacks.
And then the thrill began: With more than 5 hours delay, the train arrived (not only the Deutsche Bahn has timing issues... although the Indian railway network is the largest in the world, with trains traveling for days in one direction, what are 5 hours then?). We had exactly 2 minutes, there were no lights at the station, we had to find the right cart, running, a hustle and bustle everywhere and then we found it, maybe a minute was over, maybe more? While Silke was shouting at the guys who were hanging out in the entrance to help her getting the bikes and bags in, Hauke had to run back to get the big rice sack (it was too much to carry it in one run). When Hauke reached the sack, the train started to move, „Run, Forest, Run!“. Silke was keeping the door open when the rice sack flew in first, and after that Hauke.
We’re complete, we made it, we’re on board, yeah!
Solely the conductor was not amused... but what could he do? Thus, he guided us to our beds (!) and after a while our excitement decreased and we dropped off to sleep...
We woke up in another state, hello Himachal Pradesh! We decided to jump off the train one station before our final destination because a large lake appeared on our map nearby, and doing so, we also avoided another Indian metropolis.
Taking a train in India is a remarkable experience, especially overnight in an air-conditioned sleeper class, and without bicycles... But now we know how to (not?) do it :)Read more