The long, hard road to Jaisalmer

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
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24
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Trip End Jul 18, 2004


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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, February 1, 2004

What I didn't mention in previous travelogues was our stop over in Ahmedabad en route to Diu. The reason for this omissions was that we only spent part of a day there and besides visiting the charitable orginization Self Employed Womens Association (www.sewa.org - a worthy organizaion working to employ the women of India), the only other noteworthy part of the visit was that Ahmedabad had possibly the worst air quality we have experienced anywhere. While I believe that separates Ahmedabad from many other cities, mentioning that doesn't make for much of a story. That is until we had to go back.

As I said in the last travelogue, Sarah and I caught a bus full of Jain pilgrims out of Palitana. The bus took us back to India's rail network back in Ahmedabad. Our plan was to catch the night train out of Ahmedabad to Jodhpur, and then another train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. Before I go further I must say that while the rail system can at times be frustrating and trains can often be late, overall the system is good and it seems that you can go almost anywhere in India by rail. However, that night in Ahmedabad, the system was definitely not working in our favor.

We arrived at the train station too late to buy a reserved ticket for our train. This, for those who aren't familiar with the Indian rail system, is not the end of an attempt to catch a train. One can buy a "general seating" ticket and hope that there are empty reserved seats - traveling unreserved usually mans you're lucky if you find a seat, and we weren't prepared to rough it that much. The process, as we learned, goes as follows: Wait for the train to arrive, as it happens our train was exceptionally late arriving at 1:00 A.M. When the train stops, run around like mad looking for the TTE (Train Ticket Examiner?), he knows if seats are available and has the power to give wearied travelers seats if there are any. This is an especially nerve wracking experience because there are only had limited minutes to find the TTE (who mayor may not be ewearing a uniform)before the train was is again. Unfortunatetly for us we never got beyond that part as the TTE sent us packing since the train was already at, if not beyond, capacity. So we were off to the local motel for another day in Ahmedabad.

After a few hours sleep, we were still unsure if we should give Indian rails another shot or give up and head to the bus station. After much bleary eyed discussion we headed back to the train station. The next train to Jodhpur was in the afternoon and the ticket reservation office was open so we figured we were hoome free. No such luck for us. Apparently in Ahmedabad (we had not encountered this problem before) reserved train tickets must be purchased the day before. We were back to buying an unreserved ticket and trying our luck again.

Fortunately for us this train had plenty of room. After a seemless transfer in Jodpur we arrived in Jaisalmer not too much worse for wear beyond coughing up a little sand (the train to Jaisalmer is through the desert).
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