India - Planes, Trains and - Nope. Just Trains.

India is a country of chaos and wonder. It will show you beauty your eyes have never seen before.. and expose you to sorrow your mind could never fathom. It is a country where silence doesn't exist. But it's people are masters of silencing the mind. It will push you so far out of your comfort zone, comfort zones cease to exist. It will test all of your limits, but offer you it's most precious gems. It is a country that wears its heart on its sleeve. And keeps a piece of yours. You cannot come to India and take your whole heart with you. It will take a piece to keep, without any kind of warning. -

In total, we spent just under two months in India. The first, at the ashram, volunteering in the slums of Ahmedabad. The second, we began in Goa. Journeying up to Mumbai, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, New Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi. India is a tough country. It is utterly exhausting. There is no peace and quiet. There is no fresh air. There are no moments of feeling absolute cleanliness. There are no moments of not feeling harassed to get in a tuk tuk, buy a souvenir, or eat at any one of the millions of food establishments. The minute, and I mean the minute you step outside you are bombarded with sounds, smells, smoke, and energies. - Traveling from place to place in India is fairly simple. With a completely annoying, unnecessary and complicated system mixed into the process. Trains cannot be booked online by a person with a foreign passport. It's a whole hoopla of bull shit that has to take place in order to even signup on the IRCTC website, including sending copies of your passport, etc. Not to mention the difficulties of getting a SIM card here 🙄 - I don't even want to get into the frustrations of this one. Everything is government regulated. Including the cost of your bottle of water. Want to scare a local and make sure they aren't ripping you off? Pull out your cell phone and threaten to snap a photo of them if they don't give you the right price. THAT'S how regulated it is.

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Once we got the hang of how to book trains, it became fairly easy. Easy in the sense that we knew what to do. But by no means take this as being as easy as calling an Uber or booking a flight on an app. Each train or bus ride we took we had to journey TO the train station... in one hundred degree heat... stand in line at the booking office in the "English" speaking window until it was our turn. Once it was our turn we would be turned away and told to go to the ENQUIRY window. You mosey on over the enquiry window and wait a bit with your packs on, sweat pouring down your legs, until it was your turn. Then at the enquiry window the clerk will tell you to go out of the booking office, go through the train security check point, cross over ALL of the platforms, and go to the REGISTRATION office. Can somebody please tell me what the eff the difference is between a booking office and a registration office?!?! And why wouldn't you have people BOOK tickets at the booking office?! Not the registration office!!! So you pick up your 20 kilos and hike up the stairs - cross all the platforms - and vioa la - there is the registration office. You wait in this seventy person line a bit until you realize, there is no point to wait in this line - there's a "woman and elderly" line wide open. So you walk over to that line even though you're not a local woman or elderly... and proceed to inquire about a train out of that town and in the direction of where you want to go. The clerk will do her best to assist you, providing you with endless head circles and side to side bobbles that make you unsure whether you are being told yes or no. And once you determine a train you think you should be on, she has you fill out registration forms for that train and supply all of your passport information as well. About two hours into this train booking journey you're nearly complete - ONLY to realize the clerk and you have had a communication issue and she nearly booked a train to the WRONG city entirely. So let's start that head bobble and circle all over again until we can get this right. -

We took an eighteen hour train from Mumbai to Jodhpur. Stopped over for only about twelve hours in Jodhpur. Jodhpur, the Blue City, which happens to be one of my favorite cities in India. It's interesting. Traveling. Or maybe it's just traveling through India. Or maybe it's travel through Asia. I find myself stuck in a love hate relationship with the place that I'm at. Like Jodhpur. I LOVE it. I love the authenticity, the ancientness, the colors, the winding alleys. The fact that I'm freaking HERE. Out of all the people in the world and all the places, I'm standing here. I love it. I even love the sounds and smells. And yet I HATE it. I hate the garbage, the cow dung all over he streets, the blazing horns going by, the heat - where you can't catch a break with real AC, the infectious mosquitoes, the lack of clarity. - I digress. From there (Jodhpur) we hopped on another twelve hour train to Jaisalmer. We spent a few days in the Golden City and a few nights camel safariing under the Thar Desert stars. This was - an absolutely incredible experience. Camels are quite scary to ride on. Especially when they get attitudes. The days were hot and uncomfortable, but the evenings through mornings made it worth the discomfort. I feel no need to go into descriptions here, the pictures do it justice. We rode camels through the Indian blazing hot desert during the days, and star gazed on sand dunes during the nights. -​

​ After our safari we discovered there wasn't going to be enough space on the train we booked to get us from Jaisalmer to Delhi.(Another train lesson for you). In India, if you're unable to get a local to book online for you, you'll have to either bet your luck with booking and paying for standby seats, or make it to the station during the correct time window to get emergency tickets at an escalated price. Well we bet our odds this time on people canceling and us making it on via standby. We lost. So we get back from our few desert evenings only to find we are semi stuck in Jaisalmer. We can't be stuck in Jaisalmer. We have a half marathon in LESS THAN FORTY EIGHT HOURS. Fuck. - We are hot. Exhausted. Dirty. And have not had real sleep in countless days (remember, we've gone from two overnights on a train straight to two nights in a desert). And we are supposed to go immediately on an overnight train to Delhi to get our bibs and run a half marathon. So our desert brains scramble to find a solution and luckily for us the company who hosted our safari, Real Desert Man Safari, finds us an overnight bus to get us on in the next few hours heading for Delhi. An overnight bus that will end up taking twenty three hours compared to the eleven hour train. YAAAY 😬🖕🏼. I love it. I love it, remember. 😳🖕🏼😳 -

We make it to Delhi make it through the run, use some of our rewards points and splurge on a luxury hotel stay for the next two days. Plans, trains, and luxury hotels my friends. We are livin the dream. - Just kidding. Planes, trains, cow shit, over night sleepers, no showers in 3 days. And a luxury hotel my friends. - Livin the dream. We are livin the dream. 🙌🏼 -

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-AS @travelingsnow


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