(2) Incredible India - Preparation

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Jan 30, 2017 00:16
I started to plan my itinerary. I first booked a round-trip plane ticket to New Delhi, and then began learning how to book Indian train tickets. Railways are India’s main means of transport. The guidebooks suggested that I reserve sleepers, or at least air-conditioning seat tickets. Otherwise, I would have to cram onto over-crowded second-class seating trains, which would probably be a nightmare. Thanks to the IRCTC (the Indian railways official site) and Cleartrip (an Indian online agency), reserving train tickets was very convenient. It did indeed live up to India’s reputation as a software powerhouse.

But, here with confirming the seats came a problem: I should’ve booked tickets at least two months earlier, and now all the tickets available were waitlist ones, which meant that I could buy a ticket, but it was on the waitlist and I had to wait to see if some customers would cancel their seats. If I was still unable to get a seat right before the train's departure, my money would be refunded. For me, this was a huge problem. I later discovered that I could go to buy confirmed tickets reserved for foreign tourists at New Delhi Central Station. Therefore, I ended up only paiying for the ticket with the waitlist number within 10. A number greater than 10 meant that I would unlikely be able to board, and I didn’t want to risk that. I didn’t have much time - only nine days; it would take a whole day to ride a train from the North to South, so I bought a plane ticket from Varanasi to Mumbai. After that, I proceeded to book hotels on Booking.com.

Would I see sacred cows on city streets? What will authentic Indian curries taste like? Was the Ganges really as divine as depicted in books? I just couldn’t wait to travel to this giant in the East. Kick off in New Delhi. Ride the rails south to Jaipur, renowned as a “pink city.” Catch a train eastbound to Agra, where Taj Mahal stands. Continue east to the Holy city of Varanasi for a boat trip along the sacred Ganges. Catch a Jet off to Mumbai, the most prosperous metropolis on the Indian subcontinent.

A guidebook said, “India loves to toss up the unexpected. Adopting a ‘go with the flow’ attitude is wise if you wish to retain your insanity.” I didn’t believe this because I’d already printed out and stapled all the necessary materials such as the tickets, the hotel reservations, and city maps into a brochure with a hard cover I'd designed myself. “How could I possibly get lost in India if I stick to my flawless plan?” I said in my mind.

However, it later turned out that I was just too naïve because I was later forced to change my plan due to some unexpected incidents.

1) Why Go: http://lang-8.com/94674/journals/78991205887644459198432065507904359372
然后我就开始计划我的行程。我首先订了一张去新德里的往返机票,然后开始研究如何订印度的火车票。印度的主要交通手段是铁路系统。攻略书建议我订卧铺票,或者是空调座位票。不然的话,我就要去挤那种开挂的火车了,后果不堪设想。印度的IRCTC(铁路局官网)和Cleartrip(线上代理)还蛮好用的,订票很方便。这都说明印度确实是一个软件大国,名不虚传。

订票不难,但订妥座位就有问题了。我应该至少提前两个月订火车票,现在买的票基本上都是候补票了,也就是说我可以买票,但是要等,看有没有之前买票的旅客退票。如果火车要开了,我的座位还是没有着落,那么可以票款可全退。对我来说,这可是个大问题。不过,后来得知我可以去新德里Central Station买专门面向外国旅客的座位票,所以我只买了候补号码在10以内的票,排在10开外的,我也不必去冒险了,直接去车站现场买算了。我的时间不多,只有9天,从印度的北部到南部,要整整一天时间,我耗不起,所以从瓦拉纳西到孟买我是直接买飞机票。接着,我去booking上订妥了酒店。

我无限憧憬这次印度之行:街上的牛真的是圣物吗?真正的印度咖喱是啥样的?恒河真的如书上所说的那样神圣?我恨不得马上去印度体验一番了,看看这个屹立在东方的巨人那神秘的一面。我要先去新德里,坐火车去斋普尔,然后再东往阿格拉看看泰姬陵,再继续去瓦拉阿西,在恒河上泛舟,最后再飞往印度次大陆这片热土上最具活力的大都市-孟买。

攻略上说:印度充满着不可知。旅行时,如果不想把自己逼疯,采取一种边走边计划的策略为佳。我起初还不信,因为我都已经打印出所有资料(如机票,酒店入住单,城市地图等),装订成册,还自行设计了一个彩页封面。我心想,“我的计划天衣无缝,怎么可能迷失印度呢?”

但是,我果然还是太单纯了。因为一些不可预测的事情发生,我不得不改变了一部分我的行程。