Om Mani Padme Hum
The journey from McLeod Ganj back to Delhi deserves an entry to itself. So enjoy, or don't as the case may be.
We were sad to leave the mountains and were reasonably happy with the Volvo bus we had booked ourselves on. After travelling in South America no buses will ever compare but we set our expectations low for buses in India and from the outset it looked alright. We had booked the bus in the hope of getting some sleep; it is called a sleeper bus after all. However, the other passengers, bus driver and roads made sleeping, even for me a champion sleeper, nearly impossible.
Here are the sleep deprivation culprits:
· In fourth place: A very cute old lady sat in front of James was singing to herself for the first two hours (there is a theme of people singing near James on buses-see SA blog!).
· In third place: The cute old lady's overweight friends who couldn't talk quieter than a medium level shout and talked a lot.
· In second place: Two men sitting behind us who also talked incredibly loud until late into the evening. They only stopped when I gave them a teacher glare.
· And by quite a margin first place is awarded to…. A man a few rows back, thank goodness. *HEALTH WARNING-if you are eating, have just eaten or are about to eat DO NOT continue reading.* As we were descending down the mountain, the roads were pretty windy (see road section below) and both James and I were feeling a bit sick. Within 40 minutes enduring these roads the man a few rows back obviously felt a bit sick as well. We began to hear the retching sounds of someone throwing up and the bus conductor got him a sick bag. To begin with I was sympathetic. However, he continued retching and hocking up flem and bile every fifteen minutes. Bearing in mind the journey was 10 hours long he must have had more body fluids in the bag then in his body by the end. Even on the straight roads he continued the horrendous 'uhhrgh' retching sound followed by an almighty hock and a spit! It was so loud and disgusting that we had to listen to our music at full volume, possibly causing some long term damage to our ear drums but the alternative seemed a lot worse! When he left the bus, only 30 minutes before our stop he took his little bag of treats with him. As he walked past us the smell wafted with him, it was awful. We were so pleased we weren't downwind of him the whole time.
Bus Driver (there was only one but I have placed his lists of annoying habits in order-hmm maybe I should do one of these for James!):
· Fourth most annoying trait (MAO)=Playing loud music for the whole 10 hours
· Third MAO=Talking on the phone to his mates for… the whole 10 hours
· Second MAO=Driving like a maniac on speed for… the whole 10 hours. Only to get us into Delhi 3 hours ahead of schedule and at 4:00am!
· First MAO=Over use of the horn. Now we understand that Indians love to use their horns but seriously on a sleeper bus for… yep you've guessed it the whole 10 hours. We heard 'honk' and'da da da daaa' if he chose the special loud horn, which he did, a lot.
· Surprisingly enough the roads through the mountains were incredibly windy and very much unfinished. This meant we had a lot of bumpy gravel to contend with as well as turning every 50 metres. Combine this with our bus driver it makes for a hellish journey. When we finally reached a bit of straight it wasn't all plain sailing the other cars on the road became an issue for our drivers speed record so we were constantly weaving in and out of traffic and braking suddenly to avoid head on collisions, as clearly our side of the road wasn't always good enough!
Other than those few complaints the journey was a delight! We are trying our best to always take trains in India from now on.
We were too exhausted to do anything that interesting in Delhi before catching our sleeper train that evening but we did manage to have our old room back for the day at Smyle Inn. As we had arrived so ridiculously early we didn't want to wake everyone up at the volunteer flat so we tried Smyle and Anil, one of the managers was in his usual spot asleep in the foyer. Bless him he woke up bleary eyed and gave us a room to use for the day. It was nice to be able to sleep in a comfy bed and use the shower. We caught up with Elle for a meal in the evening and I mainly talked about food and the restaurants she must visit when she makes the journey up north. It was nice to be back in Main Bazaar but it was only a brief lay over as we had a sleeper train to catch.
This was a much more successful experience. We were in a 2AC compartment, which means you share one berth with two other people, and then two more beds face sideways parallel to the corridor. As soon as we boarded we were asked if we didn't mind sleeping on the top two bunks as the women we were with were old, of course we didn't mind. And although they went to bed really early (even for you Mum) and got up early (not as early as you Nan) they were good train companions. There was no snoring, nobody talked too loud, they did talk to us but not too much and best of all nobody was throwing up. Both James and I got some much needed sleep in preparation for Varanasi.