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India: A trial of 36 hours (Darjeeling to Bodhgaya)

36 hours of missed connections, heat, filth and queue jostling balanced by nice food en route to the place of Buddha's enlightenment

sunny 38 °C
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Journey to Bodhgaya

Leaving Darjeeeling wasn't as easy as we thought.
My buddy Roberto and I set off from the high end of Darjeeling at 7am bound for the 4WD taxi rank.
We had 4.5 hours to get down to NJP to catch our train to PATNA.
When we arrived, there were plenty of 4WDs, plenty of waiting passengers - but no drivers.
Over an hour passed and everyone started to panic. This was pre-Vipassana, and my fuse was pretty short too.
Eventually, the 7 westerners banded together and used a bit of currency power to charter our own vehicle.
With great pace, we swerved down the enormous mountain and got to NJP - in time for some - but not for my train.

We queued at 5am the previous day to get TATKAL, so the effort felt like a bit of a waste.

More queuing at NJP....
For those who haven't had to buy train tickets at a station yet - orderly queuing is RARE- when it happens it is so sweet, like a treat from above - especially in many parts of the north.

At NJP we waited in the gents queue as guys tried to push their way o the front. At several points it took both of us to use brute force to stand our ground and keep our place.
When we reached the front, hands and voices would pass over our shoulders...

"GET THE FRAK BACK", I would yell.
The response... "but I just want to talk to the attendant"
"Well it's queue, and it's our turn... that's how queues work pal"

We luckily got 3AC seats for a later train. Only a 5 hour wait at the station.


NJP isn't the kind of place you want to be stranded. We waded the the trash, heat and incoherent touts to find an AC restaurant to chill for a while.

Finally our train came - about 9 hours to Patna.

Patna is one of those places where looks can deceive you. From the outset it looks like a post apocalyptic, crowded shambles. However the people are truly friendly and great food and restaurants can be found.
As we missed our last train, we had to book a new connection to Gaya. This experience contrasted NJP. The queue was orderly, and the attendant spoke the queens english.
We then found a nice AC restaurant and pigged out during the 5 hour layover before the train to 5 hour journey to Gaya.

Bodhgaya is about 15 minutes on auto-rickshaw from Gaya station.


We wizzed into town... and found a great hotel with reliable AC, nice restaurant, etc... Niranjana Hotel.
I can't fault this place at all.... especially after a 36 hour journey of missed connections, extreme heat, fisty cuffs in queues....

Kaderbai in Bodhgaya

One thing we noted, and everyone we met there, was the posse of affluent older fellows that always sat in the foyer or in the restaurant. They all ordered the staff around, but didn't seem to do anything.

It really felt like the mafia... like Kaderbai's minions from Shantaram.
Whenever we sat in the foyer, the guys would always politely move to the restaurant to talk business

It's all good....

Sometimes you have to take these tough journeys to really appreciate the wonderful destinations.
Bodhgaya is one of those..... stay tuned for my next update on the gorgeous and amazing place of enlightenment, Bodhgaya.....

Posted by SkinnyFists 09:54 Archived in India Tagged patna trains_india darjeeling_to_bodhgaya

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