Mark_Lester

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Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We have about 25 people who say they are coming. I suspect t will be closer to single figures but we'll find out in October when we need to book. If you like the concept but think 2 weeks is a just too stupid, you might like to tag along for a shorter section, the Assam bit, especially north of the Brahmaputra, will be an adventure in itself. I have a blog about the trip here http://gcirc.wordpress.com
Todd
Todd Wow, amazing trip Mark. This is what Globetrooper is all about, epic and unique journeys such as this. It will be interesting to see the final numbers. I'm sure there'll be a handful of travellers on GT interested.
4 years ago
LaraM
LaraM Be super aware of canceled trains...I was on one last week that was canceled 100KM into the trip. We still had 500KM to go and had to hire a car.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester shit can happen, there are no guarantees
*BUT*
we ddnt just cook this up in an afternoon. the trains we are getting are almost all premium services and I've been monitoring them all for about 8 months now. Indian trains are, in general. not as bad as their image. despite all the usual problems this yea, strikes, fog, rain etc., our trains would have still got us round!.
Right now though, it's monsoon time, the west coast line is in serious shit right now. If you are going from kerala to bombay on something you could book at a few days notice then things could go very wrong.
we have chosen this particular time to travel cos it's the least likely to have any problems with rains or fog.
also, we've taken quite a bit of care, and will take a bt more, working out if stuff goes wrong, how we can get back on schedule etc. But as long as we get onto the train out of delhi then everyone will have had a bloody good ride for their money even if we dont get back to Kolkata in time to get the train south.
The konkan line (west coast) wold be our last train anyway, so if it gets to bombay stupid late it's not an issue.

4 years ago
gotta_b_trippin
gotta_b_trippin Ok, so I'm like totally new to this whole Globe Trooper thing....but it sounds amazing! So if I were to want to join would I have to buy/reserve places for myself on all the trains? I read the description and itenerary, but I must admit it is kind of confusing. Also, where do we go to purchase these (online?), and will we be together on the train? In the same berths? It all sounds so neat, but I'm very confused as to how to go about this :-/
Todd

Todd Hi gotta, this is a unique trip in that there isn't any tour operator. It's a collaborative trip between a large group of people: some are rail enthusiasts, some are even rail expert, some are Indian natives, but from my understanding, most are just fascinated in the itinerary and wanting to do something spectacular in India. Me? I've never even been to India, but I can't wait. As for booking the tickets, Mark has said that he'll send an announcement out about October for everyone to book tickets. He'll give detailed instructions on it so we all end up on the same trains in the same direction. I think part of the adventure is the lead up to this trip and knowing that it's collaborative between inspired travellers. With that said, it seems just as (if not more) organised than a packaged tour. Mark and the guys over at IndiaMike have spent a lot of time fine-tuning the itinerary. Anyway, I'm sure I speak for everyone in saying we'd love you to join. I think we're getting close to 30+ people. While on most packaged tours, less people is better, for something like this, I think it's definitely the more the merrier. :)

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester the booking is just a slam dunk as long as you are not Indian, (contact me directly if you are) all we do is contact shankar dandapani at s.d enterprises and tell him you are with me, it's that easy. this guy is the biz http://www.indiarail.co.uk/ we need to have the orders in 90 days in advance of the trains so that as booking opens we get our seats allocated straight away. so we'll start doing it all in october. you'll need a visa of course, and a flight ;). We'll probably meet up at the ymca in bombay the night before.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We've got a t-shirt!. I'm still working on a UK supplier, but I think everyone in here is non-UK anyway, so if you are short of a new daft t-shirt to get printed, please feel free to get this one run off and wear it down on the beach or on your travels. front http://gcirc.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/gcirc-logo_final24.jpg back http://gcirc.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/shirt-back-final3.jpg
Todd
Todd They're looking really good Mark. Will there only be one design? Have you decided yet? Count us in!
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester The front is a heat between these two. The first one wins I think but the other is just so India.
I'm now trying to see how cheaply I can get them made up. But my designer friend has gone o hols so we are probably done. feel free to get a couple run off in sydney for your americas expedition.
http://gcirc.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/shirt-front-v33.jpg

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956&index=1#!/photo.php?pid=6217395&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=372971199730&aid=-1&id=597441803

back wil be this, though I may change the font, or go wit the chakra (circle) one for the front and do the map on the back. But there are no rules!!!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956&index=1#!/photo.php?pid=6217387&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=372971199730&aid=-1&id=597441803

4 years ago
Todd
Todd Hi Mark, do you have the high resolution version of all the designs? Maybe Adobe Illustrator files or EPS files? We may be able to setup the design on one of those t-shirt artwork websites so people can just single-click to buy the shirt from anywhere. For example, have a look at http://redbubble.com. We can set it up if you can send the high-resolution images. Thanks, todd
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

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
Mark_Lester the numbers are climbing, and one of my suspected chickens has turned out to be made of sterner stuff than I had thought. we are in serious danger of hitting 30 now which will be a mobile riot. my food sourcing is going well also. this is a sponsored train trip, not a sponsored fast, and certainly not a sponsored poo if I can do anything about it.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Great to hear Mark. And it's still only July. Still some time until we book tickets, so who knows what the numbers will be by then. Are many people sticking around afterwards? I think we'll either stay in India for a while or go to Vietnam.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

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.

Todd
Todd Well said on IndiaMike; nothing wrong with a bit of passion coming out. From what little I know, the GCIRC seems entirely on another level regarding planning, coordination, number of people, etc. Pros and cons to both, but the GCIRC seems like a trip of truly epic proportions. Wish we could do more to help (anything?). How are numbers? Any more confirmed? We may have 4 or 5 confirmed here on GT before it's time to book tickets. Maybe more.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester well, I really dont know. if you guys are firming up with 4 or 5 (who is is the 4th ?, I've got you and your two lady escorts) then we are about 15 going on 30. I'll go round and do some pre-nudging and see what numbers are looking like and report back.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd I met 6 people over the weekend who'll be in India during the GCIRC. We may get one or two from that group. We'll see when it comes time to book, but will keep recruiting until then.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester top work. cricket world cup on in India at that time also.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Add Triglav in Slovenia to your wish list. Lovely place and people.
karkas
karkas I am interested in this trip. I prepared to make Mt. Blanc climb with group of friends. But I refused it recentle, because acclimatization and climb plan is not acceptable for me. Leader want to sleapp in tents on snow and glaciers, nad he chooosed most dangerous normal route to Mt. Blanc. I am interested to discuss possible options with other people or t ofind companions. I prefer to climb Mont Blanc from Italian side (Pope Route).
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Hi Mark, Todd and I are very keen to do this trip as well as another superior friend of mine ;) I've never been to India... so no first-hand experience of the trains, what conditions can we expect (or not assume)?
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester Hi Lauren. That is a very difficult question to answer in one go. Todd said you'd been to north Africa, so I would say you are covered from total culture shock, but India can be very overwhelming. Also the trains aren't really designed for more than a couple of days of continuous travel. 2 weeks solid is going to be a struggle even for those in the party who do epic trains trips whenever they get a chance (we have at least 2 arch exponents of the art on the trip).
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester We're going to try and make sure we have the catering side of things as worked out as best as possible, as we'll be on the go constantly we wont have chance to hang about a town for a few days working out which place does the best grub, we need to know before we get there. But there will be times when we will be at the mercy of the on board food, which can be passable/OK to "dont touch that or you'll be ill". But I guarantee you will never, ever, forget this trip..
4 years ago
Todd
Todd How is everything travelling Mark? Everything on track to book tickets in October? Wil someone send out an email beforehand advising of the final route?
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester I will send a message to the facebook group, and post up on any active threads, which is essentially IM, BCMT and here, about a month before hand and then again as we get closer and once I and my close mates have taken the plunge.
I'll then go round all the other trav threads that I set up and try and re-promote.
The state of the route is always kept up to date on the blog, but obviously you'll be getting precise booking instructions as it's getting the berths sorted that is the critical part.
There is a guy in UK called shankar dandapani who is the indian railways rep and he is excellent. even if you are at the other end of the planet it's probably best to go through him.
http://www.indiarail.co.uk/

4 years ago
Todd
Todd Sounds great Mike. We're promoting the GCIRC like it's a religion. We've been spreading the "good word" wherever we go. Let us know if there's anything else we can do.
4 years ago
Invidious
Invidious I reside in India so I thought I'd give a few pointers. First hand experience is trains is completely dependent on the train. It stretches from the "Garib Rath" - literally "Poor Man's Chariot" trains to "Palace on Wheels". The former can take you from one end of the country to the other in about US$25 while the later is upward of $500 per day. I would suggest that you folk stick to trains like the Shatabdi or Rajdhani which are clean, comfortable and will provide you with decent food and packaged drinking water. They are also very reasonable by Western standards. Have a good trip.
Todd
Todd Many thanks for the pointers Invidious. You can also see a very long discussion about this trip here: http://www.indiamike.com/india/indian-railways-f10/the-great-circular-indian-railway-challenge-t93181/ Would you consider joining us?
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Thanks Invidious, do you have any recommendations for female travellers?
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester We are almost totally on shatabdi/rajdhani, you can do about 2/3 of the trip in 1AC, not withstanding the tourist quotas. 2AC is the most likely class of travel. But even in AC, 1 or 2, it is highly likely/certain that at least once you are going to ask "why did I agree to do this when the guy told me it was a stupid thing to do". 2 solid weeks on any trains anywhere is tough.
We are investigating the idea of getting a couple of what are called "passenger" trains, which are basically non reserve-able local trains, as part of the assam trip which would allow us to see that section north of the Brahmaputra, I am still waiting to meet a single tourist who's done that bit.

4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester To clarify on the class of travel available, There are only 2 trains that we dont have AC class, the arunachal express in assam and another night train in the south from rameswaram to the cape. Of the rest, over 2/3 is actually rajdhani class, and the rest is effectively shatabdi. But you are a better man than I if you can live off train food for 2 weeks. Sometimes it wl be OK, sometimes it wont. The feeding, and washing, will be critical to avoid a mutiny after a few days.
4 years ago
Invidious
Invidious @ Todd - No - I tend to avoid Rail travel in India as much as possible - I am not plunging into it head on :) @ Lauren - If you are in a group you should be fine - I would recommend modest attire and getting used to stares. Some kids might even come and ask you to pose for a picture with them. Most of it is all harmless - but can take some time to get used to. @ Mark - All I meant was that the trains have caterers providing food of a uniform standard - while the food at restaurants on platforms in Bombay or Delhi might be excellent - you hardly want to get sick eating food at a platform in Assam. Just a thought. Cheers.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester many thanks for your thoughts invidious. on the stares and photo front, I recommend combining the two. If a guy is staring at you (it's never quite as bad from a woman ;) ) then just whip out the photo apparatus and start shooting. works every time.
4 years ago
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Mark_Lester

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