People think travel is so easy & fun. I beg to differ. Budget travel can be a fucking nightmare! This evening I’m taking the night bus to Bangalore. I’m feeling a bit sickly from yesterday but think I have pulled it together for tonight. I really hope so! I have heard one story too many about people throwing up & expelling diarrhoea out of sleeper bus windows to even contemplate what could go wrong on this trip.
I have to check out of my hostel early & hang around waiting for my evening departure. I had lots of time to recuperate & bid farewell to the lovely people I met here. I crossed the rice paddy in darkness with my phone torch guiding me. My backpack already digging into my shoulders & making me sweat under the weight. To save on a taxi fare to Hospet I arranged a boat to take me across the river after the normal service closed. The price they quoted was obviously doubled when I went to pay. Dickheads. I am so sick of this shit.
The price of a tuk tuk is over twice the price of the rate during the day. When I was in a terrible mood storming to the bus stop the tuk tuk driver rocked up & agreed on my price. I got dropped off over an hour before my bus was due & had to sit & wait on a plastic chair on a dirty smokey street with Indian men staring me down while growing more anxious about my safety & what state the bus will be in. I am very aware that I am far from home, physically & culturally. I don’t feel safe. Since my incident in Goa I am very aware of the gender ratio in my vicinity. It always tilts unfavourably towards majority male. When the bus arrived the staff were very half arsed about whether it was my bus or not so I had to check with everyone I seen whilst alighting the bus & it still wasn’t clear. HOW CAN THIS BE SO DIFFICULT!!!??? Someone working here should know where this bus is going!!??? I’m not being unreasonable!!!
When I pulled myself onboard with my luggage I was directed to my bunk which I was assured I would share with another female. I was relieved to see an Indian woman sleeping but less enamoured to see her child also in that small space. By this stage I’m exhausted & squeezed myself onto the bunk doing my best not to bump them. I closed my eyes, obviously annoyed, & tried to drift off willing myself not to suffer the desire to urinate.
Nine hours later we arrive in Bangalore, although that is not fully clear. Apparently no one in India can be sure of any destination or location. I mean, I’m on a fucking bus for transportation – TELL ME WHERE I AM!!!!! I drag my sorry ass out to the middle of the street in a sleepy daze to an audience of shouting tuk tuk drivers impassioned with ripping me off. I quote them the price I’m willing to pay & they quote me double. I walk off & perform this routine for about 15 minutes until someone agrees – then I’m speeding along the street of Bangalore going down alleys & crossing freeways in the quiet 5am dawn with an Indian man I don’t know or trust. It is so risky to travel alone in India. I do not feel safe or comfortable & I have exposed myself to being so vulnerable.
I am so relieved when 30 minutes later I arrive at a hostel & I haven’t been driven to some murder den. I get out alone in the quiet street & figure out which entrance to use & how to wake up the staff. Mentally & physically drained I drag my backpack up 3 flights of stairs to my musty room with a dirty bathroom. I urinate for the first time in 11 hours concerned that it is bright orange. I close the window & liberally apply bug spray to myself. I dig through my backpack for my pyjamas lost in a sea of rolled up, stuffed & scrunched belongings. I half heartedly make my bed & fall into it wondering why I bother.
Yes folks, this is a snippet of that ‘holiday’ my friends & family do not acknowledge. This isn’t a ‘holiday’, this is endurance travel – not for the weak!