Travel Journal: Misadventures in Bangalore & Trying to Get to Cochin

Hampi – Bangalore ::: A Night on a Sleeper Bus

Indian sleeper bus
The teeny compartment of the sleeper bus that both Carrie and I had to squeeze into

After our time in Hampi, we set forth on an overnight sleeper bus…the first one of our traveling career.

Essentially, it is a normal bus but above the seats are little compartments with beds in them. We thought we would be traveling in style and comfort, but when we arrived we found that instead of the normal sized alcove, we were stuck in the little one in the back that was barely big enough for one person, let alone two large Americans.

Also adding to the fun of the trip was the terrible condition of the road to Bangalore. On numerous occasions, we were awakened by the feeling of weightlessness for a second before crashing back down onto our bed as we were thrown into the air after hitting a pothole or giant bump at 60 kph.

Touring Bangalore Via Touristic Shops

None the worse for wear, we arrived in Bangalore for a 12 hour layover before our next train to Cochin. Moments after leaving the station we were approached by a cab driver who offered a tour of the city for a very low price: including the two sites we had already wanted to see that day.

The tour itself involved the driver taking us around and giving us some history in broken English…but the catch that he didn’t mention until it was too late was that we also had to stop in three different overpriced stores so that he could try and get commission. He insisted that we spend at least 15 minutes in each one and, despite the fact that we hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours, we went along for the ride.

How is it this hard to mail a package in India?

Banglore post office
The collection of people at the Banglore post office who helped warp up our package

When the tour finally ended we ran some errands that including a trip to the post office to mail a package home. Usually, post offices have people outside who make money sewing your package into a burlap sack for mailing abroad. However, this was a local branch and had no such folks outside, so we had to ask inside.

It took a while for the staff to figure out what to do with us, but in the end they found a box we could use and four workers stopped everything they were doing to make sure that every inch was covered in packing tape and that we had written the destination address in at least five places. Keep in mind, this was really a one person job, so the other three people just stood around and supervised…a very common sight here.

Train Delays & Military Intervention

Naturally, when we finally were ready to leave Bangalore we still had to deal with a 5.25 hour train delay. At around the four hour mark I went to the inquiry window to see if our Indian train was actually going to come or if we needed to get a hotel. Apparently everyone else’s train was delayed as well, because there was a mob scene both outside the window and inside the booth where one poor woman was surrounded by screaming Indians demanding updates on their trains.

A temple in Banglore
As always, when Carrie and I do anything we have countless loacls watching our every move…even something as simple as taking a photo outside a temple gets the stares of all those around

Usually in a situation like this I would go find the station master in his quiet office, but as it was 10pm he had left for the day so I had no choice but to squeeze my way into the booth with the rest of the locals. I pushed my way in like a native, getting ever closer to the woman with the answers, as nearly 40 people shouted for answers of their own. Finally, the scene in the booth got so hectic that the military came in and started shooing people out. Fortunately, I was deep enough in the crowd that they could not get to me and, as the room began to thin out, I was finally able to ask my question.

It should come as little surprise that as the inquiry woman started to look up my train, a soldier finally grabbed my by the arm (quite forcibly) to get me out of the booth.

“Please sir, I just need to find out if my train is coming. I’ve been waiting for nearly five hours,” I said in the most polite and desperate voice possible. It’s times like these that I’m grateful for being a white tourist here, as I quickly found myself as the only remaining passenger in the booth, face to face with the station manager who had no choice but to return for a late-night shift.

The epilogue is there was a massive train derailment earlier in the day and all trains were delayed or canceled. Fortunately, ours was just delayed and, of course, finally arrived a mere 30 minutes after I got back from the booth. But at least I had my answer and yet another entertaining experience.