It’s my last day in Agra. This same day I’m heading to Varanasi. I don’t have much more to do or see nearby, so I went to Taj Protected forest that is next to the Taj Mahal, as I usually like to relax in green parks with some shades. This place is not worth it. I just went because I had nothing else to do. I didn’t stay there to chill for a long time. You just get a different view to Taj, but as I already got the best of it it, I wasn’t so amazed.
This is the day of my 2nd train in India. This is the day I’m heading to Varanasi. A city that I never searched about and that was “forced” by the travel agent when I had to change my whole plan for my trip to India.
This time I just went inside the station without asking anything to no one. It turned out to be the longest travel ride I already had in my life. The full journey lasted for 18 HOURS and the total delay of the train was around 5 hours. Yes, that’s super normal in India. I went to the train station at about 1h in advance just like my travel agent had told, and I think I waited there for 2h or more, I can’t even remember. I asked an Indian guy for help to check if that’s the correct place to catch the train and he was super gentle, even when the train platform changed, he came to me and told me that, otherwise I wouldn’t know… But it takes some time analyzing the ambiance to pick a person you feel like you can ask for something. Staying in the station is not so comfy. People are staring at you and I don’t see much more tourists there. However, the sleeping train in India is kind of comfortable, but it was very tiring, we were really close to Varanasi when it stopped for more than 1h without moving 1 inch. I don’t know what happened, I guess their coordination on trains is not so good.
Finally, I reach Varanasi! Starving! I wasn’t expecting to have such a long ride so I hadn’t bought enough trash food, and I didn’t buy anything during the trip to eat to those train sellers. Going on an Indian sleeping train is a bustle. Train sellers that are selling everything from foods to drinks start getting inside around 7 AM and it’s like that every train stop. Some get out and new ones get in. It’s like a moving market.
I get out of the station and try to find myself a tuk-tuk. Of course, when they spot a European girl you are immediately approached. I find a young guy and I ask him for a driven tuk-tuk as I don’t want any old man pushing me on a bicycle again.
Can you guess what? I ended up going with an old man on a bicycle!!!! GRRRRR
How did this happen? Well, 1st of all, my hostel, that I need to mention that apart Agra’s Hostel, was the COOLEST hostel I have stayed in. The guys there are so nice and they are also young, so they were kind of our travel partners too. So, this hostel is located really near the Ghats. If you don’t know, Varanasi Ghats it’s where they burn the dead bodies at open air, so no vehicles were allowed in the zone. This is the reason why I need to go on a bicycle that could fit places tuk-tuks don’t. Now, why an old guy? I was talking with a young guy and we had everything settle so I was walking along with him until “my vehicle”. We reach it, and he points to a really old guy, again skinny and looking like he can’t cycle much and says: he will take you there. At this point I’m like: WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?? Why I am talking to you and you address me to another person. This is my theory: I think there is a separation between guys trying to get clients and guys taking clients to places. So, he “delivers” me to the old guy and go again to the station picking more clients. They must earn some commission for each client they bring. So, he shows me my driver and I say: No, I don’t want to go with this old guy. He can’t carry me… Can’t it be someone else? – I was really pissed as I promised myself I will not choose an old guy again. His answer: Old is good! And here I go…
Fortunately, the track was very plane so this guy hadn’t any struggle. The traffic was totally chaotic. We took 1h to make 5 km.
As vehicles can’t go closer to the Ghats area, I needed to walk to my hostel. The problem is that I wasn’t expecting that so I hadn’t studied before my way to the Hostel. I have no internet or App that could help me find the Hostel. I start panicking. How the hell I’m I going to find this Hostel. I asked several people in the street, they just point the way, but they don’t know where it is. I just keep on following the way people telling without even knowing I’m going in the right direction. – Once again, please don’t walk India without Internet or maps me– I was feeling anxious because my feeling of being lost in the middle of that SUPER CROWDED place. I took 1 more hour to find this hostel while walking on alleys where just 2 people would fit side by side, but it was very crowded alleys.
I’m walking side to side on those tight streets, so tired, so starving and so lost that I start to feel dizzy. At this point, I just went to a “bakery” that was looking pretty western and sat there to rest and eat. Luckily it was a place with Internet. But even after checking on the internet I had trouble finding this place. Those streets are so full of advertising placards that I just couldn’t find the one from the Hostel. It’s too much information going on. Finally, after crossing the right street around 5 times, I find the sign “Bunked up Hostel” Thank GOD!!! I couldn’t handle by backpack for much longer.
The guy at the reception of this Varanasi Hostel was very welcoming and talkative, I would have liked to pay him more attention, but I just went to my room and slept.
I feel like this might be one of the longest days ever apart from the 1st day in India.