08.02.2010 29 °C
Well, last week I experienced an overnight train journey in India for the 1st time ever.
Havign seen all the usual photos of clapped out locomotives with people hanging off in all directions I have to confess i was not looking forward to it. Worst was the thought of what the toilet facilities could be like (they aren't the best in the UK!). But I went for it. Sometimes it is good to even have a bad experience to look back on.
I was surprised by what I found.
it did help that I was boarding in a small town with an uncrowded platform (not like Bangalore or Mumbai). We found our carriage. There was no 1st class on the train so we were in 2nd class air con sleeper.
Initially thought there were 3 layers of bunk beds and decided it would be like being in a coffin. But as it turned out it was 2 layers so there was loads of space. As long as you have no sense or embarrasment about effectively sleeping with a load of strangers it is fine. You get a pile of bed linen (of dubious origin and cleanliness - smelled a bit funky) but as long as you remind yourself you are sleeping fully clothed it is ok. Then to all intents and purposes you kip down on a bench. It was a bit like a cross between a mobile youth hostel and a jail cell.
The 1st journey I think i slept about an hour in total (of a 10 hr journey) but most of that was due to the noise of the air con fan and the feeling I was going to fall on the floor every couple of mins. But on the way back I got quite a decent sleep and woke feeling refreshed.
The loos were a bit grim. I am used to Arabic squat toilets anyway but on a rocking train when you can see the track beneath you it is a bit odd. The western style one wasn't much better. Just had a metal loo over the hole in the floor.
But I have to confess, if I was asked to do a train journey again I would. BUT I would take a small towel to cover the pillow up (and maybe my own sheet).