Day 6 & 7 - Night Train
Aurangabad Travel Blog› entry 6 of 17 › view all entries
A day late with this entry so will try and remember it all!
Had to check out of The Park Central in Pune at 12.00 so had a leisurely breakfast, showered and packed. Had no idea what to do for the day and really wasn't looking forward to lugging my backpack around with me all day. Asked at the hotel reception if I could leave it at the hotel until 10pm which was fine - phew! When I checked out they gave me a wrapped up present - box of toffees! Why can't all the hotel's be like this one?! Wandered around the local area all day, a coffee here, a danish there, a bit of internet surfing etc. Decided to have dinner at the cafe/coffee shop around the corner and got talking to a German girl (sorry, can't remember your name!) who told me to forget he trains and travel on buses - great news as I was not really looking forward to the "overnighter"! We talked a bit about Osho's place, turns out it really doeas seem to be a rip off these day's, about 4 or 5 years ago she was here and they hardly charged her anything - bloody well knew it! She seemed really pissed off with the whole set up which was now geared towards making shed loads of money from tourists - nothing new there then! Anyway, got a taxi from the hotel to the railway staion about an hour and a half too early as I didn't yet know which carriage I was in etc. Found it easily enough by asking at one of the many offices dotted around the platform, turns out I was in a side berth, marvellous! Went outside the station buildings and sat and had a ciggy, got the most poilte bollocking from a passerby, apparently there is a no smoking rule inside the station grounds - nice man! When I went wandering off again later to have another one, I was surrounded by three young "hoodies" - without the hoods, muttering something to me about watching out for pickpockets and if I gave hime Rs100 he would look after me! I declined and gave them a ciggy each and poiltely told them to bugger off, it must be catching haha! Nearly time for the train so I went back to the platform to wait. I was leaning up against a wall and trying to look like I did this all the time when this old Indian man came over and offered me a seat next to his wife - yet again, so kind.
The train arrived, found my carriage and piled on along with everybody else and found my "bed" for the night, it almost looked inviting! I didn't want to leave my pack on the floor so I stashed it at the bottom of the bed and laid down with my feet on it, it was ok to start with then not so much. Was really worried about missing my stop as my phone battery had died and there is no tannoy or announcement of stations- you miss your stop then tough! Basically drifted in and out of sleep and jumped up at every stop to see if it was mine - a bloody long night! Finally arrived at Manmad for the connection to Aurangabad at 6.05am - still dark. Got off the train and wandered outside to try and find coffee and food - no chance, not the nicest place and I am supposed to be staying overnight here at the end of the week, maybe time for a change of plans! Had 3 and a half hours to kill so sat around and watched the sun come up with a few hundred other people.
With about 2 hours to go I wandered over to platform 5 (thousands of people here now not just hundreds) and found an old railway cart on the platform which I sat on for the rest of the wait. An ideal time to people watch .. eurghh! One of the first thingsI noticed about India and the railways is that no-one gives a damn about trains and railway tracks (a bit like the roads), people were jumping off platforms and wandering up the tracks to disappear through fences in the distance. As I watched, an old man dressed in an orange robe (sari - khaftan?? - god i'm so ignorant!) and matching turban appeared through the fence on the siding opposite me carrying a bottle of water, nothing strange there until he hoists up his robe and squats to take a dump in front of everyone passing by - he's then joined by another man and no-one bats an eyelid! They finish up and wash up and as I'm sat taking all of this in, a young boy of about 5 or 6 wanders in front of me, stops at the edge of the platform, drops his shorts and has a shit onto the track - thanks mate! One thing I noticed though is that their balance is perfect, if I tried that I would have fallen straight off! I had two more hours of this along with people hawking and spitting everywhere - all before breakfast - god I sound such a snob haha! Got chatting to a couple of young men, at least I answered 101 questions from them to pass the time, then opened by pack up and pulled out the tin of toffees, soon was surrounded by another dozen or so offering to clean my backbak and telling me that it was ok to smoke there they would cover me - smiles everywhere, even from passing trains, needless to say the toffees soon disappeared by the eager handful! Quite a weird feeling to feel like some sort of celebrity with people coming up and shaking me by the hand, smiling and waving, although I did keep an eye on my bag - just in case!
Eventually got the train from Manmad, side berth again although this time it was a seat and managed to fall asleep. Thankfully woke up in time to see us pulling in to Aurangabad Station. Right, no messing this time, had already chosen a hotel, with a pool :-) so jumped into a taxi and headed off. After all of 3 minutes into the journey the taxi man tries to take me to a different hotel - "very nice, very cheap", from the outside it looked horrendous so politely refused (again) and told him to drive on. Arrived at the hotel to find that it had changed it's name to "The Lemon Tree" - no problem, it looked nice. The taxi man was badgering me to let him take me to the caves the next day all for the knock down price of Rs2000! Took his number to keep him quiet. Booked in for two nights, all very nice and new.
Got to my room and took a well needed shower, about 29 hours since the last one! Had a bite to eat and then a siesta ...ahhh. Wandered around for a bit, really couldn't be bothered to go for a dip so read until dinner. It seems that there was some sort of convention at the hotel so the restaurant was full apart from one small table - phew! After dinner I thought about going for a wander around town but we were quite a way outside the centre so plumped for a bit of pampering with a massage - unfortunately the Spa was closed so opted for a beer in the new bar - also closed for refurbishment .. hmm. Ended up in the internet room catching up on the gossip and got chatting to an American girl who was also in there. apparently they had only just re-opened the hotel and things like the spa and bar were not ready yet (no alcohol licence) - great!
Madelene and her mum and their friend had been to Ellora caves that day and were heading off to Ajunta the following day. I told her that I had not yet decided whether to relax by the pool for the day or try nd hire a drive to take me to the caves and that I would decide in the morning. I bid her goodnight and went to my room to try and phone home but the phone did not work - no surprise there! I was just about to go to bed when I there was a knock on the door, I opened it to find Madelene stood there (how she knew my room number I'll never know!) inviting me to join them in their car tomorrow to go to the caves - totally unexpected, how nice! So, my day planned tomorrow, time for bed, we leave at 8am ... Goodnight!