Our First Day In India

on Tuesday, 2 March 2010

So, we’ve made it to Bangalore. It didn’t start off well, Tom left his boarding pass in the bar in Heathrow and I also lost mine somewhere in the departure lounge. Our flight to Bangalore was an hour late, which wasn’t too bad as we knew we had a 4 hour stopover in Mumbai. The flight was surprisingly good, loads more legroom than any other flight I’ve been on and ended up being only just over 8 hours. We flew into Mumbai airport and I have never seen an airport like it, it was just one huge building site with holes all over the runway. As we we’re coming into land you could see some of the Mumbai slums which stretched for miles and were almost onto the runway. The heat wasn’t as bad as we had thought and was actually a nice change from back home. We got into the departure lounge for our next flight and went to have a drink, 200 Rupees (£3) for half a pint of coke, not what we expected! I managed to get onto some wifi in the airport and it seems to be pretty fast, hopefully a good omen for uploading photos while here. I downloaded 24 and Chuck for something to watch on the flight from Mumbai to Bangalore which was only about 1hr30mins. We arrived in Bangalore and was actually quite surprised with how little hassle we got, we went straight over to the bus station, found out which bus we needed and got on, 140 rupees (£2) each for the hour long journey to Bangalore city centre.





The Bus journey was quite eventful, with some mad driving being witnessed, which I am sure will get worse later on. There seems to be absolutely no rules of the road at all, people undertaking, cars straddling two lanes and motorbikes cutting across the pavements. We saw a truck carrying two of the biggest pieces of, what looked like granite down the road, they must have been 4mx2m and a 1m thick. It was travelling along at walking pace and I have no idea how the suspension hadn’t collapsed.

When  we arrived at the main bus station in Bangalore, I knew the hostel we had booked was only just round the corner, but stupidly, I had not printed off the map. We asked the bus conductor who seemed very confident that he knew where it was, in the end we found out he clearly didn’t because he had sent us in completely the wrong direction. As we’re walking down the street Tom says “I can’t see any girls wanting to come out here”, to which I reply “We haven’t seen anything that bad yet!”, just as I finish we walk passed, what I can only describe as a public toilet without walls, now I know they have those public urinals in some British cities, but this was just in another league!  After walking for 15mins and not getting anywhere we decide to get a Tuk Tuk to take us to the hostel. We were quoted 30 Rupees (50p) for the two of us,  without haggling at all we jumped in and were talked into booking the bloke for a 4 hour tour of Bangalore the next day for 100 Rupees (£1.50) each. I have no idea whether these are the right sort of prices to be paying or not, but they seem pretty cheap. It was only a 5 minute ride to the hotel, and after a bit of banter with the driver who tried to tell us 30 Rupees was just the tip for the journey, we told him where to go and went to check in. We had pre booked the room over the internet, which was probably a good idea but we had definitely paid more than the going rate, which was about half the £3.30 we had paid. Oh well the photos of the room looked pretty nice on the website we booked with. I don’t know what room they had photographed but it wasn’t ours.



The man who showed us to our room just stood there, for what reason I have no idea, but we gave him 5 Rupees and he went away! Until 30 seconds later he returns and asks us if we would like some water, he asks for 45R (75p) for two bottles of water, we don’t have any change so Tom gives him 40R and $1, which we realise shortly after is almost twice what he asked for. He returns 5mins later with the water and has the cheek to ask for more money to exchange the dollar. Tom explains we paid too much anyway and that he was definitely not getting more. We dumped our stuff and changed from our jeans into shorts. We thought we would find out where the train station was to get our ticket to Goa sorted, we asked the reception of the hostel and got some directions along with where there was an ATM and a nice place to eat. When we got outside we soon realised nobody wears shorts and it only makes us stand out more. This is obviously not a very touristy place in India, for non-Indian tourists anyway, because there are none. We finally spot the train station just before we are going to give up, we try to find some sort of information and eventually work out we have to outside to another building to get the tickets. We queue up at the booth which says foreigners on it, we then realise that Indians just have no concept of queuing, which we should have realised at Heathrow when all the Indians on our flight just barged to the front at check in. Anyway when we finally get to the front the bloke says we have to go to another booth. We find out the train only runs on Tuesday (Today), Friday and Sunday and are given a form which makes no sense and don’t even attempt to fill it in. We decide we want to get to Goa as soon as possible and that the easiest way would be to get a tour company to book it for us, we find a little tour company and try to book a train. He seemed to say the train goes everyday contradicting the other person, but then also says you have to book a month in advance. He recommends getting a sleeper bus and says it takes the same time, if not less than the train because it is direct. We book it and pay 950 Rupees (£15) each. I think this is probably twice what we should have paid, but we haven’t got in the habit of haggling yet. We could have got a bus later that night but decide with the long journey we have already had we don’t want another 11hr bus journey, so we book for the next day, leaving at 8pm. We head back to the hostel and after planning to eat at the recommended local Indian restaurant, we made an excuse that we don’t want to be ill for our bus trip and so end up having KFC. I know it’s terrible!

We decide to get an early nights sleep, while lying in bed I realise the fan seems a bit over the top, It’s so powerful and noisy it feels like there is a helicopter hovering 6 foot above you, I thought I had seen a dial on the wall, but can’t be bothered to get up and see if it adjusts the fan so just try and get to sleep. I don’t get much sleep, probably due to the fan and the change in time, in the morning I am actually quite cold so get up and realise the fan is on the maximum setting. Anyway that’s our first day as I am writing this in bed listening to someone next door retching loudly. We have decided to do the tour we half booked yesterday, so hopefully we will see some proper sights today.