How to find your train at the New Delhi station? It’s easy when you know it.

Satellite map showing the NDRS seen from the east. The red star is the point where the stairs to the platforms are. © Apple

Satellite map showing the NDRS seen from the east. The red star is the point where the stairs to the platforms are. © Apple

It’s pretty crowded and a traffic jam in front of the station.
When facing the front of the station the long stairs to the platforms are on your right hand. Downstairs is a digital sign with train directions, departure times and platform numbers. The sign is somewhat hidden behind a little concrete shet. You have to carry your weight up and down the stairs to the platform. On the bridge at each stair the name of the train is shown (like Kerala Express). At the platform you often find yourself at the beginning of the train. And trains and platforms in India are long. Our train to Agra comprised 25 wagons, each about 20 metres. The AC and first class compartments are mostly at the end of the train where the platform is not that crowded. On the platform we had to walk a few hundred metres to find our train and be sured that we were on the right place. More sure you’ll be when you see your name on the passenger list sticked outside the trains. On your ticket you see which wagon you have. We had A 1. A little red sign in the middle of each wagon.

Posted in India 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tricked again again at the New Delhi Railway Station (saturday)

The next day we managed to get inside the train station looking for the departure information, like which platform. We were early and had two hours space. The informationsigns were not all that clear to me, not much English. I could not find our train on the electronic board.

platform2

A man came up to us and told us that the train to Agra was delayed for four hours because of the fog in the north. An other man thought it was even six hours. I know that in this time of year fog can be a problem for the railways in the north, so these men could be right I thought. On the other hand our train would start to depart from Delhi and there was no fog in Delhi. Anyway, we can change our tickets to a later departure time same day and they showed us the tuktuk to the office where that could be arranged. We should have learned our lesson from yesterday. Stil naive we went again to Connaught Place but to a travel agent different from yesterday.

station sign

And yes the office man said that fog is a problem these days. He tried to telephone for changing tickets but could not get through. He offered us a car, but I didn’t give him the time to tell us the price and other nice things. We are only interested to go by train I told him. After a while waiting and saying nothing I told him we decided to go back to our hotel to ask for help and advise. He then took the phone and found out that our original train would depart on time. Extra train, he said. We went back to the station with the tuktuk, 100 rps this time. It all took us a wasted hour. We were very lucky that we arrived so early at the station that the waste of an hour did not mean that we did miss our train.

At the platform we found out that a list of the names of all passengers and their seats were sticked on the train wagons. Our names were on it too. And the train to Agra left on time.We had a lot of uncertainty and doubt for nothing. No need for boardingpass, no fog issues when the train departs at the New Delhi railway station. Just a bunch of lies to get us into a car for 100U$. I should have known better. But why our uncertainty? I’m not sure. This is what India did to us. Busy, crowded, dirty, a lot of nice and some not so nice people, expecting the unexpecting.

(Reading this text again a few months later I lost my anger. Actually I can smile about it. Nothing seriously happened. And I read that we’re not the only ones with these experiences. The man in Seat 61 writes about it too)

passlist3

Practical hints:

> From outside India we booked our train seats on line at Cleartrip. You can choose many trains and directions, buy and pay with Visa and get the tickets in your mail. I have good experiences with them.

> It’s not usefull to go away from the station to Connaught Place or elsewhere in the city to get information or have your tickets changed. There is no official organised help outside the station. But there is the International Tourist Bureau, inside the station building on the first floor. Not many people we spoke knew that.

watching the passenger list

watching the passenger list

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tricked at the New Delhi Railway Station (on friday)

Do you have a ticket? Show me. That’s an electronic ticket, you need a boardingpass for the trainplatform, like on the airport.
That was what the officially looking man told us outside the very crowded and chaotic New Delhi Railway Station when we wanted to go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. He blocked our way, we could not pass him.

Platform at the NDRS. The man on the left is checking the passenger list.

Platform at the NDRS. The man on the left is checking the passenger list.

This was new to me, a boarding pass for a train, but who knows India? Everything is possible. This was in January 2014, A year before I did the same trainride, and made the same online arrangements with the Cleartrip webside. No boardingpass was needed at that time. It all worked fine. I told him that, but the guy was very convincing in telling that India is changing everyday and he was dressed in some uniform and showed us some ID. We considered that we had time enough because our train was sceduled for the next day. You can get the boardingpass a few blocks from here at the Government Tourist Office and he pointed us the direcion. Too far to walk. The man was so kind to stop a tuktuk for us and said it was 20 ruppies, which is cheap.

View from a tuktuk in Delhi

tukutuk from the tuktuk

The tuktuk driver brought us to Connaught Place to a side street from a side street. We had no change to pay the driver so I asked him to wait. The promissed Government Tourist Office turned out to be a government approved tourist office. That is not the same. We smelled a rat, in fact it was a travel agent.
The office had two old easy chairs, a large desk with a corpulent man and the map of India on the wall behind him. The man asked us our travelplans and told us that the train to Jaipur was overbooked because of the kite festival. It’s easier to take a car, just 100 U$. We realized that we were tricked. I asked him to exchange a 100 ruppies banknote to pay the tuktuk driver. We went out and did not came back.

train ticket bought online.

Our train ticket bought online. We have wagon A1.

A curious thing was that outside his office stood a man apparently waiting for us. He asked us if we had an e-ticket and told us unasked for that we did not need a boardingpass. Just show your ticket, that’s enough. Strange because we didn’t mention the word boarding pass to him. He obviously knew what was happening in that office. We paid the driver and went for a walk round Connaught Place for sight seeing. Lots of shop owners Please visit my shop. Later on we read in the New Delhi newspaper that a Danish woman in her fifties was raped and robbed in that area at the same time we were there. Horrible. She is back in Denmark and the offenders are caught the newspaper says.

Posted in India 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot air Balloon Festival, not all went well

I hear people screaming and see them running away in all directions. That’s not easy in a large dark terrain packed with thousands of spectators watching the big balloons taking off to the sky. Normally it takes a while to prepair the eight metres high balloons with lots of candles on her side and fixing the plateau with fireworks under it. Then when released to the sky the fireworks should start at a height of about 100 metres. That is in most cases the case, but not this time on a sunday night in Taunggy.

This went wrong from the start. The balloon was released and after about ten metres the wind caught the balloon and the balloon set herself on fire with big flames and the firework started almost just above the ground. People got hit and some were injured and the balloon is burning his way to the wooden building where the jury is seated. Then after five minutes the firebrigade arrived and started to put out the fire. Ten minutes later the fire was over, the jury was save and people went up to the next balloon. Except the balloon chief. A policeman tried to arrest him, but people who liked the chief became angry with this and beat the policeman with sticks. With help from colleagues of the policeman the chief was arrested because he had ignored the warning not to release the balloon because of a sudden wind. It took a rather long time before the ambulances arrived. I didn’t see any casualties, but some were injured.
Later, I found a video of this wrong going event by and from ‘loralgt’ on:

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The temples of Bagan

Thousands of temples and pagoda’s in Bagan, Burma. Amazing spectacular. Here are the pictures, they say more than words can do.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Impressions of the Irrawaddy

The boat from Mandalay is leaving prompt at 7 am and that’s on schedule! The boarding starts before 6.30. This season there are two fast ferries going to Bagan. This one is called Shwe Keinnery, build in China 17 years ago. That was before the Chinese upheavel isn’t it? With your ticket comes a reserved seat, one of the 90 inside, so you don’t have to fight for it. Not so on the sun deck, where the 15 easy chairs are quickly taken by a French travel group. They seems to know the rules, at least their guide does. The windows are big and good for the view and there is a little restaurant with simply meals and lots of black coffee. In the first hour down the river the starboard side has the best view passing the ford and pagoda’s of Sagaing, but it is out of the sun and cold so early in the morning. People are wearing jackets. The left side is nice and warm.


It is beautiful saling in the dawn when there is bit of fog around the pagoda’s. The coast of the Irrawaddy reminds me of a cruise on the Nile that Hillie and I once took from Abusimbel. But here are more pagoda’s, haha, and on the Nile are much more palm trees. The ship is not sailing in a strait line in the middle of the river as I expected, but is lingering her way between the invissible sandbanks. I take a look at the bridge, where I can see the best man steering without the use of GPS or map. Knowing a bit about sailing I’m amazed about this. After three hours the ships bends her bow to the riverbank where is a little village but no jetty. Just put the bow to the shore. A man with a red nylon bag comes aboard walking over a narrow shelf. Alongside women of the village expecting us are standing in the water, shouting and throwing banana’s up to the passengers on the high ship. Money is thrown back in the water. Amazing. After a short while we go again. At the shore I see fishermen working, cows drinking from the river and women washing cloths and themselves. We pass by some cargo ships, but not many. I see my first Burman eagle.

At noon the crew is walking around taking your order for lunch. Rice or noodles. I just had my cheroot finished and wasn’t hungry. We pass the Malika 2, the ferry from Bagan. After the new bridge a long blow of the horn and the captain lays his ship again aside the shore with no landing place for the ship. He keeps her on place with the propeller. The man with the red nylon bag now steps off of the ship. Maybe he is a postman I guess. This time no village and no banana’s. Off we go again enjoying the green landscape. After 14.00 it’s getting hot inside, almost no one of the ninety passengers here, hardly any blowing fresh air and outside the seats are taken.


So I am glad when this very beautiful trip ends at 16.30 in Nyaung U. Taxi’s enough. A nice cold mercedes benz brings me to hotel Flower Breeze in New Bagan which is a half an hour drive passing along 1000 years old pagoda’s. I came for them in the first place. Ready for a bottle of Myanmar beer at last. I could have taken one on the boat but I wanted to save that pleasure for the evening.

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

U Bein bridge near Mandalay

It’s quite a bit outside the busy town. At the old long bridge made of teak wood: Country life, with a man and an ox ploughing and a woman behind them carefully throwing seeds to the earth. A nice sight to see them cooperating for tomorrow. And a big flock of ducks floating by, packed together looking like a living island. They know the direction. A bit later I see two duck-keepers in a little boat. So they aren’t wild ducks as I first thought. On the other side of the bridge many geese, also on their way from the water to the shore happely wagging to their home.

Not far from the bridge are gondola boats laying, which take you to a spot on the water where you can have a good look at the bridge while the sun sets. I shoot very many pictures, just for the good one. I am sure I have that one, the view is beautiful. The rowing skipper points me photogenic points. Everytime when I point my camera he stops rowing. Thoughtful.

The road to the bridge goes through a poor part of Mandalay, I see cows and children searching in carbage. It makes me think and sad.
Burma has problems. With poverty that you see at the outskirts of the cities and beggars at touristic places. Not many and not persistant, but still. And a few days ago demonstrating farmers were chased away with teargas and water according to the BBC. These farmers had to leave their land for a Chinese who bought a coppermine and wanted the surrounding area as well. That was last year and the farmers found that they were not compensated enough. They got a basic house and money, that was aggreed upon, but they are unhappy with the deal. Ms Suu Ky was also there and said after she spoke with the famers, now I speak to the authorities, to hear the story from two sides. The authorities on their turn said: We cannot close the mine. That would give a loose loose situation. According to the BBC Burma is a corrupt country, so the farmers may have a point. In my hometown The Hague we have beggars too and European farmers just last week blocked the roads around Brussels with their subsidized tractors. I think there is difference. On the other hand nowadays Burmese people have, as I have, acces to the free press via internet. In my hotel I could use the computer of the reception. If the last visited internet page of the former user of that computer does say something about what people like to read in the foreign media, then there is more interest in the Premier League. Like you can see the television watching crowds in cafes. All English football.

The sunny side in Burma is that I woke up one morning with the sound of singing children in a school across my guesthouse. What a beautiful sound that is. There were early in the morning and late afternoon many children attending that school. That made me happy.

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The train from Hsipaw

This gallery contains 8 photos.

My two fellow travellers and I got the last three tickets for the soft seats. At the time we didn’t know that we were very lucky, but we were. The remaining westerners were given a ticket for the ordinary class, … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Domestic Flying in Burma

Propeller jet Flying to Inle Lake and beyond
At the check-in at the old Yangon Domestic Airport where Airforce One with the American president left a week ago, they put a small green sticker on your shirt with the destination, HEH for me. I still don’t know why that is. Entering the waiting area I don’t see any information signs and the flight is late or am I at a wrong waiting area? The sticker helped me to see other passengers with the same sticker and waiting while the scheduled departing time passed. Suddenly a man shouted something running around holding up a wooden sign with my flight info on it above his head. That is is how is goes here. There is one waiting area and just wait for the man with the sign. Easy when you know it. I didn’t notice if the man was looking for people with the green sticker, but he could have.
Later when I flew from Heho to Mandalay and I was about to leave the plane the passenger who stood before me was refused to leave. ’Go back’ the purser said. The man had a different color sticker and the plane had more destinations. So that’s how they do it. Watching the right stickers to know if you indeed have reached your destination and may leave the plane. Pretty efficient I would say when you have trouble deciphering the announcements, as I have once in a while. This was for me the first plane ever where during the flight they played music like in elevators. I think it was semi classical with a trumpet.

A weird thing happened after arriving at Mandalay International Airport. The plane arrived at 7.30 in the evening and the new airport was almost empty and the taxi desks were closed. On the big parking lot were no taxi’s or busses. And the city is an hour drive from the airport. So we were seven of us and puzzled in the dark not knowing what to do. Well that’s always better than being on your own. After a while a Burmese man came up and offered us to call a bus from Manalay to transport us. We happely accepted and a half hour later the bus was there and took us to Mandalay, for 6000 kyats. That’s cheap considdering the situation we were in. It gives something to think about. I mean an international airport and the second big city in Burma, with no transport to the city. Burma has still a way to go.

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Entering Burma

Yangon

Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon

Shwedagon, Yangon


Yangon International
The immigration and security are smooth. There is a visa on arrival desk VOA but that’s for bussines people only. So it was indeed necessary for me to get the visa from the Berlin Embassy of Myanmar. The arrival hall and the outdoor area is fully packed with islamic dressed people. It turns out that travelers are arriving from the Hadj they have made and half villages are here to welcome them back. But in spite of that I see my travel agent before she sees me. We change flight tickets and hotel-vouchers and dollars and in no time I am out looking for coffee nearby on the other side of the road and wait some steaming hot hours for my next flight to Inle Lake.

Changing money
When you arrive at Yangon International Airport you arrive with many others who all don’t have kyats and want them desperately. So one long queue at the bankcounter. You can speed up things by stepping outside the building, walk fifty meters to your right to the departure hall and there is close to the door a bankcounter with no clients. Checking money and passport and multiple counting took only ten minutes. I changed euro’s which I withdrew from an ATM in Holland. No problem. Not so with a Dutch couple I met on the road. They tried to change euros in Mandalay and the banknotes were refused because not crispy enough. The stress that gave this to them not having enough cash, ruined their day, so they decided to shorten their trip leaving Burma earlier than they had planned and span the rest of their vacantion in Thailand (where there are ATM’s of course). I had some better euro’s left and I changed it with them so they could buy a decent meal (I’m not sure if it was that bad).

So there is still one country left on this planet that doesn’t like every euro they can get. What people told me about this is that because of the western boycot the foreign banknotes are changed with China to get Burmese money. And that the Chinese are extreme picky on the condition of the notes. Another black side of the boycot from the West I think. This is about to change soon.

(Sooner than I thought. A few days after I wrote this I found an ATM in Mandalay where I could withdraw Burmese money with a foreign bank-card. I must be among the first foreigners who have this joy of electronic banking in Burma. Maybe now the hassle of needing pristine dollar bills are over)

Posted in Burma 2012 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment