This train was my first chance at spending the night in Sleeper class in India. This means you get no pillows, no sheets, no blankets, no air-conditioning, no privacy curtains, and you get to share your space with people on the waiting list.
When I first boarded the train, it was packed. I could barely find a place to sit. The floors were covered with peanut shells and other garbage. It was hot inside with so many people and I couldn’t imagine how it would feel in the summer time. After a while, I climbed up to my bed and used my backpack as a pillow. One man was walking through the car pounding on each bed and yelling about something. I had no idea what he was saying.
As the hours past, it got colder and colder since it was the end of November. The doors and some of the windows were open the entire time. By about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, it was too cold to sleep. Looking around the car, I could see I was the only one who had a bed to himself. Everywhere else I could see two men sleeping in one narrow bed. I guess I was lucky. I can also see why I don’t see women in Sleeper class. Too bad the Kushinagar Express doesn’t actually go all the way to Kushinagar, but to Gorakhpur, a loud, dirty city.
Gorakhpur & Kushinagar
The train arrived at 7:00 in the morning and I walked across the street to the guesthouses to find a room. Most were full since people were not checking out yet, but I did find one room that was right next to the noisy road and was not cleaned. I didn’t mind too much to sleep in a dirty bed, I’ve slept in worse places (for example, just the previous night).
In the morning, I decided to go to Kushinagar by bus. I found the bus station and noticed the first bus that direction was full so I decided to wait for the next one. When the next arrived, it was a battle filled with yelling and pushing to get on board. I think this was my first bus for this visit to India, and first in Northern India. I did have some help from a university professor who saved me a seat. It was about two hours of a really bumpy road and the bus was so crowded people were standing too. It was terrible, but I could always find something worse. This was the university professor’s daily commute.
I did make it to Kushinagar to see some of the interesting sights there. A lot of local Indian students talked to me and took pictures of me. Some asked why I came to India. I thought, I was myself that same question everyday. After walking for hours, I had to get back to Gorakhpur. It seemed like there were little to no buses. I talked to a local person and he said the buses don’t stop here because so many students try to get on board without paying. However, there was another option, a shared jeep. Unfortunately, this was so crowded it was painful. The driver of the car would refuse to go unless everyone was very uncomfortable. It was about an hour and a half ride, but there was not any other choice besides walking. Probably the worst trip I’ve taken in India. (photos)
Back in Gorakhpur, I just had to spend the night and then leave on a bus to Nepal in the morning. I had read in my guidebook that the mosquitoes were bad in this city. Luckily, I found a mosquito coil a few days earlier. You light it with a match and it fills your room with smoke and the mosquitoes do not bite you. The only downside is you’re breathing smoke all night.