It all started when our train ticket out of Mumbai was not confirmed. We were sure that we would be fine since we were only number two and three on the waiting list. It didn’t happen however and we needed to get out of the city and fast.
We went to Ganesh Travels to book a bus ticket to Udaipur. We had a great experience on our Volvo bus to Mumbai from Hampi, so we thought that Udaipur would be just as comfortable.
Unfortunately, all the Volvo buses were full. We were going over budget daily in Bombay and decided that we should bite the bullet and leave on a non-airconditioned sleeper bus.
The weather is not hot at this time of year so we should be comfortable.
The bus arrived and it looked quite smart. We said to ourselves that we would be fine.
We loaded our bags into the back of the bus and settled into our sleeper compartment for the night.
Mistakes that we made
1. The first mistake that we noticed instantly was that we were at the very back of the bus. This is the bumpiest location and we both smacked our heads on the roof regularly.
2. Even though it was not hot, an air-conditioned bus is needed because India is very polluted. We choked back exhaust, smoke and pollution for the entire trip. Needless to say, neither of us felt good for days after our bus travel.
3. It isn’t the hot season, but it is definitely cold at night. We have warm sweaters, long johns, hats and socks with us, but they were all in our bags in the trunk of the bus. We shivered through the evening with our little silk liners. Even though we closed the windows, we froze.
Things we did right
1. Ear Plugs. In India people drive with their horns. They even encourage people to honk by painting signs on the back of trucks stating “use horn” Some buses and transports have annoying musical horns and these played all night long. The ear plugs helped a bit.
2. We did not drink anything. The bathrooms at bus stations are just about as bad as it gets and if you can help it, you don’t want to go in them. We kept our water supply to a minimum. We may have been dehydrated, but it saved us having to go inside at each stop.
3. Immodium. Like above, the bathrooms are horrible. Piddling inside is one thing, but I can’t imagine having to go number two. I have avoided this for all my years of travel and I have no intention of having to endure a crap in a bus station toilet. I just can’t do it.
4. Headlamps. These are always need in India and on the bus it was a must to find anything.
Find someone that looks like they speak English and ask them what is going on. Talking to someone that has an idea of what is happening is a big help. You know how long you will be staying at a rest stop, you know if you will be eating soon and you will know your stop and approximate time of arrival.
All in all our bus travel experience was fine. The people were friendly and when Dave’s flip flop went missing, the men on the train went into hyper drive as they looked for his shoe. One man leant Dave his shoes so that he could go to the bathroom in the cold and damp morning and we could not get over the hospitality of everyone.
When the bus started moving one time when Dave was not on it, everyone around me told me not to worry, it was just turning around and he would make it back on.
They found his shoe and it was waiting for us when we woke up. We couldn’t communicate to find out where it was or what they went through to find it, but we expressed our gratitiude.
Although we felt sick and tired at the end of our ride, as usual with everything here in India, the people made it an enjoyable experience and we will never forget them.