32 degrees - at 3am - God help us...

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Alleppey train station (honestly)

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Monday, April 12, 2010

We woke early as we had to check out of the guest house and catch our bus to Margaom train station (60R) which we had decided to take instead of a taxi (1000R).  We headed down the road in the direction that the hotel staff pointed us in (there are no official bus stops as such you can be picked up anywhere) and waited under the shade of a huge lime tree.  We didn't have to wait long which was a relief as the temperature was starting to creep up so we boarded the bus which was relatively empty when we got on but which soon filled up with lots of locals.  It was great to see more of the smaller villages en route observing the people going about their day to day business.  Somehow this bus journey, which we had been told would take us 1 hour, ended up taking 2 1/2 hours so Andrew had been panicking for roughly 1 1/2 hours.  Fortunately we had left extra early to allow for delays (is this a Stephenson trait Vic?) so by the time we arrived at Margaom bus station we had 5 minutes to spare before the train left, and also we had to find an ATM as we had no money.  Thank god Andrew had taken his blood pressure tablets!  We managed to get the first rickshaw in the queue after barging a couple of other tourists out of the way and sped off to the train station.  

Fortunatley when we arrived the train was running late so we just had time to use the ATM to try to get cash. Unfortunately there were insufficient funds so Andrew had to make a quick call to his mum to get her to transfer some money between the accounts.  Trish, Andrew apologises if he seemed short on the phone he was mid panic attack and you know what he's like when he's late for anything.  The train eventually arrived 40 minutes late so we were worried that we wouldn't make our connecting train to Alleppey (it was due 50 mins after this train arrived).  However there was nothing we could do just hope that we made up some ground (however unlikely).  This time we were travelling 3 tier a/c with meals provided, a new one on us.  We hadn't managed to get seats together when we had booked as the train was so full so I ended up sat in a booth with 5 Indian men whilst Andrew was sat on the side with another man.  When the conductor came round though he must have felt a bit sorry for me, don't know why as the men were hilarious, and swapped Andrews seat to be in our booth.  We started to play cards and then the man sat on the side of the train decided he wanted to play cards with his mates so we moved to the side together.  It was all a bit musical chairs. 

Then came our first of 3 free meals on the train.  We had lentil dhal, vegetable curry, rice, 2 chapatis and a syrupy dessert, yum.  The dhal ended up all over me but it was good all the same.  So after 14 hours, 2 more meals (just what is a 'Soam cake') and a lot of banter with the Indian men (who were smashed by this stage) we arrived at 2am at Ernakulam station and we had even managed to make up the time delay.  We sat watching rats run around the ceiling joists sweltering in the 32 degree heat.  This didn't bode well for the temperature during the day!  We boarded our first class train to Alleppey and joined a man spread eagled and deeply sleeping on one of the beds in our cabin, the journey was only an hour and the man didn't flinch the whole way.....was he dead? 

When we finally arrived at Alleppey at 3am we settled ourselves down on the metal platform chairs wondering what our next move should be.  We were reliably informed, by the 'Bible' (Lonely Planet) that the boat owners only start to emerge at about 9am so we had a few hours to kill as it would only take about 10 minutes in a rickshaw to get to the boat jetty.  It was then that we realised that the station had a 'retiring room'.  This is a bedroom for weary travellers or station staff to sleep, many stations have them however the standard is said to vary greatly.  Still, whatever it was like it was only for a few hours and as long as there was a fan I told myself it would be OK, Andrew was sold as soon as the Station Master said 200R (it felt a little mucky paying for the room by the hour).  The room was pleasantly suprising, sparse but no rats, mosquitos, cochroaches and a fan, I did however find a large albino lizard in the bathroom that I befriended.  It was hot but we managed to sleep through exhaustion (please God let this boat have a/c!)   
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