Alarm buzzing and it showed 4am. I was still sleepy but I couldn’t afford another 10 min snooze, we might missed our train ride back to Jaipur if I did. Our train status from Jaipur to Jaisalmer was still RLWL. If our name doesn’t appear on the boarding list, we have to find an alternative. Which I didn’t have any, as I prayed hard, ‘please let us boarding the next train’ It’s 13 hour train ride and I can’t wait to board to our first 1AC (first class with locker room just for the two of us).
Mr Salim has already arranged a pick up for us to the station. We leave our room keys on the counter and wait at the roadside for the rickshaw to arrive. He arrived just in time and took us to the station, thanked him and boarded our train.
As we traveled in the morning, there is no sleeper train available so we opt for chair car. It’s a two and three seating arrangement. I sat in between Ichie and a local lady. I tried to shut my eyes and get comfortable, but end up playing games on my phone throughout the journey.
We reached Jaipur at noon, it was a peak hour I supposed. The train station filled with locals, busy and packed. We are still in our sweatshirt braving the human sea – the locals, the porters in their red uniform carrying suitcases over their head, travellers and us. I was sweating and hoping to get into the lounging room the soonest, and grab some food, or had some sleep. We will be travelling in the 1AC couch so we get the privilege to use the lounge room until the lady denied us from entering the lounge, “No entry until 3 hours before boarding,” she looked at us, exhausted, I asked if there’s any way she can let us in? Her answered, still a big NO.
Frustrated, and still sweating we decided to spend some rupees in the IRCTC lounge room, taking shower, get some rest and enjoying unlimited internet usage. There weren’t many guests using the paid lounge room, so we have the place to ourselves and conquer the ladies shower room. We bought some Thali from the station restaurant, and it was the best, cheap and full-filling.
4 hours before the arrival of the train, the chart is up. And the luck was not with us this round, our name weren’t on the list. We checked on the 2AC or 3AC just in case they changed our tire, still none. I was shaking, what should we do? I looked at each, my head spinning thinking of the solution as fast as I could, bribe? or cry till they let me in? We went the ticketing counter, trying to get back our luck, so that we can board into the train and stick to our initial plan.
The answer still no. “The train is full ma’am”. I gave him my pity look asked if he can squeeze us in, any tier but sleeper class. He shakes his head, the next train is on the next day. We will lose one whole day. ‘Take the bus ma’am” he’s giving a suggestion. We agreed on one thing before this trip, we will not take a ride on sleeper class, or bus while in India, we refused to take any chances, but now both choices we had left lead to that.
Wasting another day or breaking our rules. “The bus will depart in 20mins.” still trying to convince us. If we catch the bus we will arrive earlier than our scheduled. Taking a bus, or sleeper class? What are the worst thing can happen, we were in India, we should at least experience camouflaging as local.
We decided to take the bus and rush to the bus station, in case we missed it, our last resort will be the sleeper class. With help from the rickshaw guy, he helped us to get a bus ticket just in time. We were asking for two sleepers, but as the bus is full they only have one sleeper and one seater. ‘We’ll take that,” I said.
‘We’ll take turns. You’ll get to sleep first,’ I whispered to Ichie. The bus is quite comfortable, clean and reasonable. Although the it keeps honking every minute and it was loud, especially when they didn’t close the door properly. It wasn’t just the normal honking, it was like a musical honking and I hate, but love it every time I heard that.
I was seated next to a nice Indian lady. Well, she let me lean on her shoulder so I can get a better sleep, selfishly I did. Whenever I took a public transport in India, I’ll take a seat next to a lady or family, they gave me a warmth welcome. They have some kind of protecting sense, and you feel safe under their wings.
The last available sleeper was the top bunk and poor Ichie can’t sleep well. The bus was moving quite fast, every time it pulls over or took a corner, it feels like she’s been throwing out of the bus. So we conclude, the bottom bunk is much better, until you get more passengers gets in, they’ll sit on your bed.
After hours on the road, the bus made a quick stop at I don’t know where, I didn’t even bother to get out of the bus. Ichie mouthed a signal “I need to pee” I told her one of us need to stay in the bus so we can delay the driver in case one hasn’t shown up. She nodded and jumped out of the bus. And I started to starve, and wandered outside to get some snacks and drinks for us. It took a while before Ichie returned to the bus and I was about to ask her, “how’s the toilet” and she said, “don’t bother to ask, please.” From her look, I was pretty sure, It was terrifying. I never listened to her stories about the toilet even when we got back to Malaysia, she told our friends, my sister and they all went eeuww. I guess I don’t need to know the details, that’s pretty much describing everything.
After the stop (I still stay at my seat and Ichie at her sleeper bunk, we were yet taking turns). I fall asleep again, and when we woke up the floor was filled with locals sitting and some sleeping on the floor. Ichie was awake too, and gave me a signal “how are we going to switch places now?”I shrugged, but I’m fine with the seater and I had enough sleep I guess.
The aunty reached her destination, a few hours before the last stop, Jaisalmer, “You’ll get there soon”, she said, and she wished me the best along with some advices, I nodded and bid her farewell. I gave Ichie a signal to take over the seat, and she fall asleep fast.
As we were reaching Jaisalmer the scenery changed to dessert, and I was glad that we survived 12 hours on the sleeper bus from Jaipur, to Jaisalmer. It wasn’t that bad at all, it was an experience and if I have to redo it, I wouldn’t change it, not even a bit.