Saturday, December 24, 2005

Travels and tribulations

Well, we are starting to learn more about how to travel here in India. While a 10-day vacation in one of these countries should be carefully planned ahead of time to maximize the use of time, part of the idea behind our long trip is to be able to ramble around a bit. However, we are noting that we need to plan a little bit ahead of time, since although we have stayed in our room for the last 3 nights, its availability for tonight is still uncertain. it's looking good though, which is important since there are very few other rooms available in town. Since this is the high season along the western coast beaches which are our next destination, we will start planning around 5 days out.

We have also learned that making reservations on the Indian railway should be done 3-5 days in advance as well. We were surprised to learn that the Indian railway is the largest employer in the world (!). Though booking is computerized, the system is complex enough to make travels a challenge. Tomorrow morning we will take a bus 3.5 hours to Chennai, then about 1 hour from the Monster Chennai bus station described in a previous post, to the main train station. From there, we will take a train leaving at 4:00pm and arrving in Kochi (which is on the opposite coast) at about 3 or 3:30am. This rather awkward timing is due to our booking 1 day in advance during a busy holiday period. Our train tickets cost approx. US $15 each, even though we are in an A/C 3-bunk berth (we wanted 2-bunk but it wasn't available).

In comparison, Air tickets from Chennai to Kochi cost approx. US $135, and still require the 4+ hours of bus ride to get to the Chennai airport. We will see how much fun the rail travel is, It MUST be better than the bus, but we may be more motivated to go the air route next round!


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