Sunday, 26 May 2013

Finally from Amritsar to Agra

We woke up early so we could be at the train station by 8am in order to try to and buy a TakTal ticket for the afternoon train to Agra. We waited patiently in the queue and when we made it to the window we asked for a ticket on the afternoon train, however we were told that Taktal tickets are only available the day before travel, which was really annoying as the day before we’d been told we would only be able to the tickets on the day of travel. No amount of begging worked, we were simply told to go and see the District Transport Manager who was near Platform 1.

To say it was hard to find his office would be an understatement, as it was actually out of the station and almost out on the road. His office was closed and after asking around we finally found out that he didn’t usually arrive at work till 10.30am. Since it was still before 9am we had nothing to do except to go and find some breakfast and return later. 

We were back at the station just after 10, ready to see this man who could magically get us onto the train. He arrived...  at 11.10am. He didn’t say much, just handed us a piece of paper on which we were to write our names and passport numbers and that was it. We asked if we would have a seat now as we were sure we’d have to pay something extra and in reply he just gave a head wobble and said to check the board at 2.30pm – still no guarantee of a seat.  

Despite this we still needed to check out of our hotel room so it was back into town again - we were getting very familiar with this trip! When we checked out the manager took 50IRS off the bill since as since the previous afternoon we hadn't been able to use the hot water in our shower. The backstory was that the switch on the electric water heater had burnt out the night before and when we went downstairs and asked the man on the reception if we could change rooms, he had told us the hotel was fully booked so we couldn’t shower in another room.  After mentioning this to the manager upon checkout, it turned out that this wasn’t true and the manager had a stern word to his lazy deskman as the man had been more interested in watching the cricket than helping us out and fixing the water heater.

We grabbed our bags and then escaped the heat in a café until it was time to again go back to the station and look for the list of passengers that would hopefully have our names on it. We couldn’t even find the list, but thankfully with our Wait-List numbers we were able to find out from the Enquiries desk that we did have seats on the train. We were joined in our carriage by a lovely mother and daughter and the trip was proving to be much more pleasant than our previous experience - until about 2am when Dave succumbed to food poisoning and spent the rest of the trip running to and from the communal toilet – not at all a nice experience on an Indian train where human waste was lapping around the toilet floor by 2am! Imodium didn’t even work and Dave started to have a high temperature, so he began a course of antibiotics that we had with us but he was still weak and sick when we arrived in Agra. We decided to head straight to a hotel recommended in the Lonely Planet since Dave was no condition to search around and find alternate accommodation and needed to rest as soon as possible.

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