Day 599: Chai Chai Chai

24.08.10:

Bright and early for the 27 hour train journey to Calcutta and it was indeed sweet to be back on a train again after the horror that is an Indian night bus. I had gone for Air Conditioned class this time, the ticket cost twice as much (something like a tenner) but even though it’s not hot enough at the moment to make AC class strictly necessary, the prospect of a working plug socket next to my seat/berth filled me with glee.

The train was, predictably, a monster: at least 35 carriages long, it stretched for over a kilometre.  I made a bunch of friends onboard including a nice Indian kid named Sonu, who not only worked out why my mousepad wasn’t working (110v is not enough!) and was mad keen on helping me get to Bangladesh tomorrow.  I could do with some local assistance, so it seemed like a good idea.

Now being a wily chap, I have no intention of jumping through all the hoops required to get a visa just to step foot in Bangladesh.  And before you start piping up the old mantra of ‘you’re not really seeing these countries’, let me explain I’ve already been to Bangladesh and spent a few days in the capital, Dhaka.  It was poo.  Heart-breakingly impoverished, hideously polluted and someone tried to snatch my bag – although the long distance buses were a billion times better than any you’d find in India, Nepal or Pakistan.  However, let’s face it, Bangladesh is not high on anyone’s list of tourist destinations so you and I are not going to miss much by giving it a cursory hop, skip and a jump.

The train journey took me up alongside the Bay of Bengal, but unfortunately I never got a glimpse of the Indian Ocean from the window (or hanging out of the open door).  I had done this journey in reverse eight years ago, only that time, Maoist rebels blew up a train station further down the line, so the one day journey became a three day journey.  Thankfully, there were no such hi-jinks on this trip and by lights-out we were bang on schedule to arrive in Calcutta tomorrow morning.