Overnight Train to Orchha

Varanasi Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 15 › view all entries
We woke up in the darkness, and all of us except Jeremy and SJ walked down to the river and got the same kind of boat to see the sunrise.

Later, we took a guided walk through the old, narrow, winding part of the city. VJ took us to this crumbling stall, painted bright blue, which he said had the best lassis in the world. And they were! I had guava with pomegranate - Morgan had saffron and pistachio, and they were served in clay cups. We learned later this is their (eco-friendly) version of a to go cup! The chaiwallas on the street use these as well. This place also had the fastest Wi-Fi of the trip so I took the opportunity to post to Facebook and Instagram. Vijay got us some samosas to tie us over until dinner, and some of us added our extra passport photos to their wall with the provided glue stick!

Vijay had us trying several things in the market...anise seed breath freshener...and another breath freshener made with betel nut wrapped up in leaves...none of wanted to try that (betel nut turns your teeth red, and you have to spit out bits...yuck).

Then in the afternoon came the dreaded overnight train ride - 13 hours - the locals train - which turned out to be 14 1/2 hours including the delay. Delays of more than an hour are standard. It was certainly not great, but it was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined it would be. The entire carriage was divided into compartments, but there were no doors for each compartment so it was more like a hostel dorm room with around 30 people per carriage. We were provided with a top and bottom sheet in a paper packet, and a wool blanket. There was one plug per 8 people, and 2 crocheted drink holders for the top bunks, some hooks by the windows, and each bed had a pocket on the wall for your belongings. I was surprised at the scenery...rolling farmland and villages mostly, and few cities or people.

We had been told to look out for theft, so we put all our big luggage under the bottom bunks and used the steel cable I had brought and locked them all together. The Indian woman across from us had brought a chain and lock as well. We kept our small bags on our bunks...I used mine as a pillow, since the one provided was more of a suggestion of a pillow.

I had heard all about the squat toilets on these trains and I was dreading it, but they didn’t smell bad - none of the ones I used - and they had water spigots and an attached cup in each, so you could splash that around after. We did bring our own toilet paper, because there indeed was none, but they did have a sink and soap in each, and a sink outside in the corridor as well. No towels though. I was pretty proud of myself for taking a crap in one of these things while the train was jostling along. Later I learned that there is one western style toilet (out of 4) per carriage.

At some time during the night, Morgan said there was a baby crying. Later, he saw that it was a child watching a YouTube video of a baby crying!
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photo by: rotorhead85