I’m in India! Almost one month already and still I can hardly believe it… A country that’s absolutely mad. Full to the brim with stares, questions and lots of smiles. Arriving December 26th, I start of in this country with a crazy journey to Goa.
Flying into this city from clean, safe Bangkok was a little bit of a shock. So many people, so much traffic that doesn’t seem to obey any rules, dirt, dust and why is everyone staring at me? On the plane I met a guy named Raz. He’s been to India several times before and advised me to go to Goa straight away, because it’s such a popular destination for New Years that available accommodation would become rare soon. And so, I was in Mumbai for just a few hours before jumping on a train to Goa.
On the train!
Well, getting a ticket first. And that was the most difficult mission. As I said, everyone wants to go to Goa for the holidays. Not just travellers, but also Indians! And because of that, the trains from Mumbai to Goa book up months ahead. I didn’t know that. The only ticket I could buy was a waitlist ticket. Which means that the train is full, but you’re allowed on, in case people miss the train or cancel their ticket. That’s when you’re allowed to take a bed.
But this train was FULL. And even if some people didn’t make it in time, in just our small compartment there were about five people that didn’t have a seat or bed. So, I slept on the floor of a train, in between three tiers of sleeperbeds across from each other (een stapelbed systeem, waarbij de banken veranderen in drie bedden boven elkaar). Waking up in the middle of the night, the guy on my right side was staring at this strange phenomenon of a foreign woman sleeping on the floor on the left, a woman that was afraid that there was something wrong with me and at every station, when she got up to look out, she poked me, to make sure I was still living.
Another thing I didn’t realize (and probably still don’t fully understand) is how vast India is. It is immense! Just from Mumbai to Goa, look on a map, that’s not that far, relatively. It took the train about 12 hours. But in those 12 hours, I got to talk to everyone in our compartment, including a guard who liked us so much we were allowed to sit on his bed for a while. Some young friends on their way to a big festival in Goa, another group of people asking a lot of questions about what I do at home. They are very curious, Indians, and are not afraid to just ask what ever they want to know…
So. The first 24 hours were full, insane and busy. But it got me straight to Goa and I stayed there for almost three weeks.