Dates 18 Feb '11 to 5 Mar '11
Flexible? No, not really
Est. Cost 300 - 400 GBP (GBP United Kingdom Pounds)
Type Travel Partners Wanted
Name The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge
Durga Prasad This looks like an awesome trip. Train journeys in India are always surreal and blows your mind. Having been on many such journeys over many years I would advise the following for first time travellers -
1. Take 'extra' care of your belongings!! Theft is common place. Petty thiefs abound in the 'passenger' compartments.
2. Get ready for stares. As somebody already mentioned , take out ur camera and start taking pics. Gr8 way to ease the 'staring' scenario.
3. Get acquainted/strike up a conversation with some local 'educated' Indians on the trains. Usually seen with a newspaper/magazine/thriller/(even with a Harvard Business Review publication sometimes!!). U will get to know a lot more things about India which has not been documented elsewhere.
4. Be ready for delays. Indian trains are notorious for not adhering to the schedule. I would suggest keeping some buffer time in your schedule so that you do not rush into anxious situations.
Note: IST -> Indian Stretchable Time :)
5. Have some basic medicines while you travel. (Stomach upset- Food is spicy in most parts of India, though the train food is less spicy and Flu and Body Pain, etc)
6. Essentials, in case you venture out - Sunscreen lotions, caps, sun glasses unless you really want to get tanned!!
7. Be ready to be blown away by the variety of culture, people with different languages , different looks etc for every few hundred kilometers.
8. Most of the people in the AC compartments speak reasonable English, so striking up a conversation is not an issue. In fact, most of the locals are eager to know more about your country, culture, your travel philosophy as to why you are travelling in India(yes, travel philosophy!!). I remember myself asking naive questions to foreign travellers when I was a kid.
9. On a small note,(Only for smokers) -> Smoking is not permitted on trains. But, as always, there is the quintessential toilet to indulge in a bit of tobacco fix! If not in the AC compartment, you can enter the Sleeper compartments' toilet and let out the smoke thru' the windows. I have done this!! (Mind you, toilets will be messy :()
For the ladies -
1. Moderate dressing is recommended. You do not have to be cover yourself in burqa to hide, but at the same time shorts, a little cleavage are a no-no. Jeans, local salwars, kurta , are pretty easy items to wear and should be fine.
2. Majority of travellers on trains are male. So there might be a bit of the 'staring' thing happening(sometimes even from local women).
3. As mentioned earlier, any chance you get to strike up an intellectual/spiritual conversation with a well-groomed person, do it. You will not regret it. If you find a female , all the better, you might get some fine-tuned pointers.
All in all, an Indian trip is always memorable and will add a new dimension to your understanding of the world.
You would want to come back again and again. Its been long since I went on such a trip in India. Hell yeah, if possible, i can even join you guys on this trip!
Mark_Lester Well we've had a few chicken out, but the great news is that globetrooper keeps replacing them.
I have a whole bunch of contacts in the mysterious extreme east of the trip which is the one area where surfing, and certainly travel books, are of zero use. I am still waiting to encounter a single tourist who has caught the arunachal express n deepest assam. You are guaranteed to have some stories on this ride, but you are guaranteed-guaranteed north of the Brahmaputra in east assam.
The count is currently 22, including a couple of non facebookers, plus 11 may-be's.
I assume the half dozen in here who havent joined up even to a may-be status just dig the idea but cant make it. If you are dabbling with the idea of actually turning up please either join the event, or if you hate FB just give me a sign in here.
Mark_Lester We have a beta tester / test pilot. I'm not sure if he or his girlfriend are speaking to me now, I ultimately wasn't too happy at being ripped off and said so on IndiaMike. Anyway, he's going SL the full way, on trains he perhaps would have done better asking about first. if he pulls it off he'll deserve a medal. He's still on his first train, the tardy Brahmaputra mail out of Delhi, which usually gets in after his next train leaves. It will be interesting to see how up for it he is for back to back journeys when he crawls off that tomorrow morning. http://www.chapatiexpress.co.uk/
Either way, his plan (which is uncannily similar to our proposed route ;) ) takes him 5 days longer than we will, and we do a lot more stuff. That's what 6 months of planning can do.