Mark_Lester

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Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester The "yellow alert" on the ticketing quotas is now canceled. Our man has come back with the numbers and as long as we dont balloon past 30 people we are all going to get a bed. Actually, the mystical Arunachal Express only has 30 SL berths available anyway, so if we hit 30 for that we're going to have to draw lots. So I'm back to working out the logistics. In particular our 3 road sections, at dwarka-porbandar, amritsar, and the assam ledo-dhemaji section. I've got a very reasonable quote of Rs 2,000 per Qualis per day in Amritsar, and we've got some serious on the ground contacts at the other two.
Todd
Todd Great to hear Mark. It will be amazing if 30 people end up traveling. Can't wait. I'll try to get Red Bubble done in the next day or so. Rebuilt the computer and need to find a free application to export the image file in the right format. Will keep you updated. Also, the trip's received good coverage from Stumble Upon: more than 100 shares so far (see top of page). Wish we could help more, but we're swamped right now.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester No worries. The super cheap place I found in UK wont play at keeping stock, so it;s only cheap if you want to buy at least 10. So I'm going to have to look about again now. I had an old work mate who is in Mumbai say he'd got a friend who does t-shirts in India but he never got back. But no rush. red bubble certainly look like the best option for US/Oz. Get yourself GIMP for image handling, it's fab. Also, I found a great eatery in Amritsar http://www.punjabiportal.com/articles/kesar-dhaba-amritsar-punjabi-food which is exactly the kind of place I was looking for.
4 years ago
hanish
hanish hey mark i may suggest while your railway trip in India you can also go out to kalka shimla train passes through 103 tunnels and view is spectacular and even toy train in dargeeling both of them are declared as a world heritage by UNESCO
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hi Hanish, yes I know it is, take a close look at the image I'm using for my avatar in here, recognize the carriage ?. Shimla station, and the whole ride down to Kalka, is one of the finest railways on the planet. But there's only so much you can do in 2 weeks.
4 years ago
Swaroop
Swaroop Mark, I'm planning my own version of the GCIRC in August. Can you please provide a few details about the leg from Dwarka to Porbandar by road? Was it easy to get a taxi? Are the roads good? Was Porbandar worth the visit?
3 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester latest planning news is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/indian-railways-quota-system/
Todd
Todd Get in touch with Mark via the Facebook page to book your tickets. We've already booked our and look forward to seeing all the Globetroopers in Delhi.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi hi mark/todd, have been to ladakh region and also assam. when is the last date to confirm. other than departure and arrival stations how many other places will we get to c. I hope it won't b a trip spent only travelling on a train.
smileabhi
smileabhi u need to have sufficient time wen u r traveling on road. traffic jams r very common in india.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Unfortunately, it is essentially a trip traveling on a train. We do get to do a few things, but all very hurriedly. But why not join us for a few days, where are you based ?. if you are Delhi you could perhaps pick us up there and stick with us till after Darjeeling.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi feb 8-16 i ll be in assam.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi i m in mumbai. my plan is to be in a plave near kaziranga national park from feb 8-16 2011.but ll meet u somewhere either mumbai or on the way anywhere.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi the in between gaps that u have will not help you much with regards to sight seeing
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester there isnt any sight seeing. well that's not true, you get this The Temple at Dwarka, though it will be a quick one Wagah border Golden Temple You could take a drive up the road at Udhampur Connught Place! (if you want to do delhi come back later) Tipong Colliery and Digboi refinery Crossing the Brahmaputra Darjeeling (ok, mostly at night) Breakfast in Calcutta, and ferry over to Howrah (come on, great view of the bridge)! The temple at Rameswaram Day break at the cape Trivandrum Coffee House As much Mumbai as you want
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi well mark......................ll i wud b more interested in meeting all of u.............so lets c if can join mid-way somewhere.ll let u know.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester seriously abhi, we're getting real short of Indians actually doing part of this. we want to meet you too!. we wil be in AC for most of the time, but actually we'd al like, from time to time, to spend time in the breezy, if chaotic, world of SL. so see if you can at least do say the dbrt rajdhani (actually thats ACIII min anyway) or the north west circuit maybe. met us at amritsar or better still ahmedabad. 1 day getting to adi, 1 day train meeting 30 odd tourists, 1 day amritsar inc wagah, 1 day udhampur vegging out in the afternoon.
4 years ago
smileabhi
smileabhi ll definitely try out.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hello Itchy. I just got a message that you are a "confirmed". Do you know how to get your tickets sorted out ?. Please join the fb group or just mail me at mc_lester@yahoo.co.uk if you need help with this.
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We now have t-shirts available. so if you arent or cant come, but still want a classy t-shirt for wherever you are going instead, look no further http://gcirc.wordpress.com/t-shirt/
Msi
Msi Hi, I think I might be interested in joining. By the looks of the itenerary/outline there's no real getting off and exploring of the different regions, right? Also, by when and how do you book the train tickets? I traveled throughout China on trains before so am cool w/ riding on a train for long periods of time and went briefly to Rajastan on a GAP tour, so I have an idea as to the conditions of the trains in India. This sounds like a really awesome trip. Thanks!
Todd
Todd Great to hear MSI. There are a lot of interconnecting railways, so there will be lots of hopping on and off. Plus Mark has previously talked about "wash-stops" in motels along the way. Lauren and I plan to stay for a little while afterwards too. No concrete plans yet, but we'd be crazy not to stay longer. That said, Mark_Lester is the go-to-guy for more info. You can visit his blog dedicated to the trip and the very long forum discussion over at IndiaMike.com (the exact link is on Mark's blog).
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Ahoy MSI. Yes, you get the picture.
I am currently working on sourcing deliveries of good stuff for the tiffin boxes so we can concentrate on washing when ever we are off the train. Most of our trains have food, but it's usually iffy at best, so I am going to make every effort to get the food sorted.
Two thirds of the trip can actually be done in first class, which apparently have showers!, but most of us will be in AC2, which is quite nice but no shower. Some of my more delicate mates will be doing it in first though, if they actually turn up that is.
Roughly half the party will be natives, which will aid the mission on several levels.
I'll be organising for a tiffin box salesman to turn up wherever it is we convene in Mumbai so you can get yours. it wil only cost a few bucks, I will be getting two!.

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester oops. can you delete one of those tood :).
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester And regarding booking the trains. We have a great guy here in London(Wembley) who can sort this all out for you, dont worry about that side of things. Of course if we get hit with some enormous delay then it will all go tits up as we wont get a whole gang of us on the next train. But I have been monitoring all our trains for the last 6 months. There is a web site that publishes the arrival times and I am a programmer so I wrote something to catch all those so I can see how reliable everything is. Things aren't anywhere near as bad as everyone,including most Indians, will have you believe, and we have very ample gaps between trains. But shit does happen.
4 years ago
Msi
Msi I think the overnight train I took in India was AC2, so pretty comparable to trains in China. Ok so I think I'm a bit dense - but where can I find your blog? Want to figure out train tix etc. since I know those have to be bought way in advance.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester blog is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com we will be using these guys to book stuff http://www.indiarail.co.uk/ make your mind up time will be end of september
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Hey Mark, sorry just had to look up what a tiffin box is :) but now I get the pic. Can you tell me how it works? We buy them first in Mumbai before the trip then at each stop we clean them and get them re-filled?
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester yeah thats the plan. two may be overkill but they are cheap, useful, and a great momento.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Hi All. Mark's doing a roll call to get firmer numbers. If you're joining this trip, please confirm your attendance here and join the GCIRC Facebook event and confirm there too: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956
4 years ago
Jools Stone
Jools Stone Wow, a lot of info here to digest! I'm pretty much sold on it now I think.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Well, here's a thread on IndiaMike which is 1,000 posts long. It's largely nonsense about me monitoring the trains. There's a site that tells you when stuff turned up, so I wrote a program to monitor it. Turns out stuff isnt quite as chaotic as everyone thinks. But sure, it's no Switzerland. That thread has become a bit of a monologue though, with the odd heckler. All you need to know is what's on the route page, and to contact shankar. if you are Indian it's another story for the bookings..
4 years ago
Usha
Usha I probably have checked this site so many times just this week alone. I was wondering, besides travelling on the train, will we get off to at least explore the surrounding areas? Guess we will right? During the waiting time for the next train yeah? I'm an undergrad from Shanghai, China. Originally from Singapore. Ethnically Indian. I can be of some language help. However, its annoying I can't decide immediately cos I need to see when my winter break for year 2011 starts. Though there is a 60% chance I might just join in. Sounds fun! Great job to all who came up with this venture. :)
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hy Usha. We have some pf the Singapore Indian gang on board already. We've Ketki who's family are from Bombay. We don't get to see a heck of a lot, but we do have am afternoon's sight seeing in Amritsar where you get to do the border closure and of course the temple. And we have the temples at Dwarka and Rameswaram too. But you'll certainly have done Indian trains when you've finished. You could join us just for a section if you wanted to see somewhere properly.
4 years ago
Usha
Usha Nah. I kinda wanna do the whole ride. Thanks anyway Mark. When is the closing date? I can't seem to spot it? :s
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester booby gravy. the route is here http://gcirc.wordpress.com/route/ we've a facebook event here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956&index=1 We've got over 10 women listed now. Even if half of them drop out, which I don't think they are going to now, we've certainly got a sizable girl gang which will be handy for obvious reasons at the wash stops etc. You've got till about start of Nov to make your mind up. Welcome aboard! (vac timetable permitting)
4 years ago
satishdina7
satishdina7 Hi Guys, I am an Indian currently living in US..I will be in India next year from Jan to Mar..I am from Chennai..I would like to join with you guys for this trip ..Even If your dates are flexible I can take you guys around lot of interesting places in the state of Tamil Nadu..
Todd
Todd Hi Satish. You're more than welcome to join. There are 30 possibly confirmed travelers, maybe even up to 50, but the more the merrier. The start date is relatively fixed in order to properly time the different legs of the journey. Also look at the blog page for the trip (http://gcirc.wordpress.com), our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/globetrooper), and the GCIRC facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/globetrooper#!/group.php?gid=372971199730&ref=ts) for more info.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Namasteji Satish, and happy independence day!.
It's not a normal trip, we'll only be in TN for about 36 hours flat. But we really do want people who cant do the whole lot to jump on board for a short section and join the party. Come to Rameswaram with us and down to Cape/Trivandrum. We've got several,. possibly a lot more than several, who will jump on board the coro with us down to Chennai and do the circuit round to Mumbai. I'm hpping to get more "Indo-Anglians" on the case (brits of Indian origin so as not to confuse with Indians with english blood) We've got a few already but i'd like some more. The t-shirt has already been quite successful in this. But we also want as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible, especially Indians.
So start making space in your plans, we hit Chennai 3rd march roudn about 5:15 pm, Be there!!

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We've had a yellow alert on the booking side of things, a few of the experts are getting a bit concerned about the booking quotas, such is the mind bogglingly complicated world of Indian railway ticketing. Our man Shankar is on the case, I'll keep you posted. I've posted up something on the blog about the off-rail arrangements we've got in place, that side is going well. With what looks like being a massive group now we wont be able to just bluff it, but at the same time there are things we can get up to that would be both hard and expensive if you were on your own.
Durga Prasad

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

Mark_Lester Many thanks Prasad. hope you can make it.
I have been monitoring the trains we will be catching using trainenquiry and a program to read/check them regularly. We've also spent a lot of time selecting premium./reliable trains. Even with fog, derailments, monsoons and the bandh, we'd have got through it. (the tragedy on the uttar banga would have caused problems).
We are also making sure we dont have to eat train food for 2 solid weeks, and that we get to wash every time we get off the train.
Note there is 1AC on 65% of the route, which has a shower in the loo, so with a little baksheesh if you are really desperate to wash those armpits and have a shampoo I'm sure it can be done.

4 years ago
Durga Prasad
Durga Prasad Yep. Baksheesh is the way to go!! It will be awesome to join this trip exploring the North-Eastern part which I have nvr been to. If I mk it to India from Aus during this period, I will definitely join this trip. Cheers.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester The Assam section is the really cool part where virtually no one has been to. It's also the only bit where I have to make special advance arrangements for catering and sleeping, so please let me know beforehand if you are going to parachute in at NJP or Guwahati to join us. But do join us, start working on your vacation details asap!.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Thanks so much for that info Durga. I've passed it on to a few of the woman travellers especially. We too are from Australia (3 or 4 of us here), but Lauren and I are visiting Montreal, Canada, at the moment. It would be great if you could join. The GCIRC is becoming a bit of an institution before it's even started. :)
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Thanks a lot for those tips Durga! I've also read somewhere else that it's a good idea for women to buy a couple of salwar kameez sets to help blend in a bit more. Mark/Durga why have not many ppl been to the Northern/Assam region? I think I need to start researching India a bit more considering I don't know. Do you have any reading/film/doco suggestions? Tx!
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Shalwar Kameez's are bloody brilliant. They are ideal for keeping cool, figuratively and literally. IN theory the grilies should be wearing the lady version, patternedgirly top and rectangular edges to the short bottoms, and the boys monochrome. But that's ott imo, but you might see one that takes your fancy. if not just get a couple of boys ones each. I always wear the pants anyway.

Assam always used to be special permit territory. India north western and eastern borders have been suspect to wars with pakistan and china respectively.
Now only Arunachal itself (which we wont be visiting, the train we get is a misnomer) needs a permit, and maybe some other border states/districts.
But apart from eco-tourism which is starting up, there arent the usual set piece sight seeing ops that litter the rest of the country.
Despite it's popularity, outside of certain major tourist traps you actually dont see that many travelers in India even today, cos it's bloody enormous.
There are terrorists in assam, but there are terrorists in the whole of India, Asia, and hey, I live in/near London, we're expecting a large bomb to go off any day now!

4 years ago
Durga Prasad
Durga Prasad Lauren, Assam & the other north-eastern states hv been over-shadowed by the big boys of Ind tourism like Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan, Delhi/Agra etc. The Maoist(read extremist) situation & the border dispute b/w neighboring nations further degraded their tourism potential. But this region is as geographically gorgeous as d other wellknown ones! It's worth going there. After all, it's all about taking the road less travelled!
4 years ago
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Mark_Lester

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