Home > Kev's Blog > 13-Apr-2013 Bus to Kolkata

13-Apr-2013 Bus to Kolkata

Saturday 13 April 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today I was up about 5.30am. Kamal was coming at 6am to drive me to the bus station which is waaay across the other side of town. I packed and was very conscious to leave Chris’ phone on the table and not take it with me (!) and was downstairs waiting for Kamal to arrive by about 5 mins to 6. He turned up soon after. As expected there was not a lot of traffic so he took me a roundabout route pointing out Parliament house, the President’s house etc.

He dropped me off about 7am. You could see the bus. Jesus. the Best bus I have been on in India!

Bus from #dhaka to #kolkata by #kevintiller

It started on time. With free bottle of water! Soon after we started he came round giving out a few breakfast box which was highly impressive.

Breakfast box on bus by #kevintiller

I had to the roti and a bite of something with custard in but then left the rest of it as it looked a bit too sweet and gunky. The trip started out driving out of Dhaka, pretty much the route we came in on – we would follow the exact route back to Jessore and then through the same Benapole (Bangladesh) / Petrapole (India) border that I came in on. It was certainly interesting to see the countryside, very rural as you would expect.

There are not many roads, and we were travelling on the biggest and it was pretty small. Much of the country is just offroad with only walking paths between villages. The day heated up and we had a couple of ferry crossings which was an opportunity to get out and stretch da legs and see what the hawkers had to offer.

Snack seller on ferry by #kevintiller

Interesting (or not) there were always a lot of beggars and a lot of the Bangladeshi people donated – I didn’t see another foreigner all day so it was good to observe to local people. There even donated a reasonable amount 10-20 taka or more to each one (its about 75 Taka to AU$1). I felt a bit guilty about not donating as much and put my hand in my pocket a bit more.

We stopped for lunch as it was really hot. It was way over 40C in the shade and I dread to think what it was on the road in the sun. By now I was starving and knew I needed to eat something else I would just die later. It was one of those stops geared up for buses and they whipped out food very fast “fish, mutton or chicken” and when I said veg they got me a plate of gruel to go with a big bowl of rice and potato/green chili that everyone got.

Lunch on bus from #dhaka to #kolkata by #kevintiller

I paid 60T for the lot so pretty cheap but the quality was… ack.

Back on the bus I started to get a headache and to zone out I listened to my ipod. Although the bus was comfy we were being “shaken and stirred” by going fast then dodging other vehicles. It was making me feel queasy.

Eventually we hit the border and it was all a bit chaotic as per before: some guy grabbed my passport and started filling out the form. He took me to the front of a long queue and just said “foreigner queue” ie he was starting a new queue just for me. Then I was bundled across the border and did the same through the Indian immigration with a different guy “assisting”. When I exited at the end I waited for the bus and/or other passengers from my bus but none came so walked back to the border, had a chai, and got someone to get my bus driver who explained I was meant to get back on the bus on the Bangladeshi side then we all drove over together and did the Indian side together. Too bad no one explained that before. Anyway we eventually got all sorted and got on our way. The border must have taken 2hrs or more.

By now my head was killing me and it gradually got dark as we went back along the roads I had run on. I was holding my head in my hand and closing my eyes to sleep and kept opening them to scenes of us flashing past people, honking, shops, rickshaws like some scary dream.

Eventually we got to the terminus as everyone got out.

I then saw the famous poster that everyone seems to talk about – “Visit Bangladesh before tourists come!”

Sign in tourist board office - "Visit Bangladesh Before The Tourists Come" by #kevintiller.  Yeah right...

When I worked out that definitely was the end, I went outside and hopped in one of the cool Kolkata yellow cabs and went to Sudder St. It took forever driving through the streets. It must have taken about an hour, or felt like it, so I think the 250R was quite reasonable.

In Sudder St, the hotel I stayed in before was full and the guy on the front desk said I could try in the morning to see if they had any rooms then. By now I was totally dying and just wanted to go to bed. It was probably around 9pm. Bed. Right. Now. So I walked over the road to the fancy Bawa Walson and just paid the $70 they were asking as I didn’t want to walk around anymore or have any hassles. I had a shower – a great shower I should add – and went to bed. It was a great room.

I originally had this idea of not going to a hotel but going straight to Howrah station and catching the train to Bangalore (35-38hrs) as the trains all left at 10pm-1am depending on the day. However I just could not even bear the thought of it. I just decided that rather than spend the last week and a half traipsing round the country by myself, that I might just go home early.

I txted Dawn as my Indian vodaphone sim was now working ok and she seemed to think that was ok (she was in bed asleep at 2am!)

Then I went straight to sleep.

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