IndRail pass: Train rides in India

Indian Railways is a massive public enterprise. There is a separate budget every year for railways alone. It crisscrosses the entire country with more than 70,000 miles of tracks and thousands of stations.

If you would like to hop in and out to see the villages and towns and country side, then the best way is through Indian Railways pass available only for foreign tourists. An IndRail pass gives unlimited travel across the whole Indian Railways network in your chosen class for a time period which you choose.

For around 600 dollars one can travel in AC2 class with sleepers or any other class of trains below the AC class for 90 days. If you prefer a shorter durations A 7-day AC2 pass costs $135 , a 15-day pass $185 , a 21 day pass $198.

Now if you prefer not buying a pass and travel – you can get tickets on sleeper class AC1 (the top of the line) and travel for around 1000 miles (say Hyderabad in south India to New Delhi the capital) for around $65-70. But beware, that seats are booked well in advance – so you have to book sometimes months in advance and reserve your spot. A major advantage of the pass is that if you fall ill for a day or two and have to change your plans, or simply change your mind about when and where you want to go, you can do this with a pass but may have to forfeit regular tickets.  Unfortunately the closest authorized deal  SD Enterprises. Another key advantage is that an entire 2 or 3 week itinerary can be painlessly pre-booked from outside India, avoiding the frustration of finding trains fully-booked if you waited to buy tickets when you got there.

Of the luxury (and quite expensive), then there is palace on wheels, the most well known. The train has a 7 nights & days itinerary departs from New Delhi and during its eight day journey, travels around Rajasthan with stops in Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambore tiger reserve & chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Agra, and back to Delhi.

palace_mapDon’t forget to travel to Kerala. Kerala has a beauty of its own. 550km along India’s southwest coast, divided between the densely forested mountains of the Western Ghats inland and a lush, humid coastal plain of rice paddy, lagoons, rivers and canals. Its intensely tropical landscape, fed by the highest rainfall in peninsular India.  You can do jungle camping or other wise. Kerala Forest Dev Corporation (Govt run agency).

kerala-forest-map

Happy Journeying

Traveler Profile : Derek Earl

I would like to introduce people who have inspired me travel more. There are many such people over the course of my life, and because of internet i can now introduce them to you all.

Let’s meet Derek Earl of wandering Earl. This is what he says (and hats off for him ) – ‘On December 25th, 1999, I left the USA for a three-month, post-graduation trip to Southeast Asia. It’s now been over twelve years and that trip has yet to finish.’

As of today, Earl had traveled to 87 countries. He is back to the USA for the time being and his recent trip was to India.

He has seen an headless man on a train platform in India!!. this is what he says about his experience, “India jolts me, it shakes up my brain to the point where I must constantly think about life, I must constantly re-evaluate everything I know, or think I know, about how life is supposed to work. I am forced to process sights and situations that my mind does not normally process. And as difficult as it can be to process some of these experiences, I do believe that such a jolt is healthy. It ensures that our way of thinking does not become stale and that we think about things beyond our typical daily lives every now and then.”

This is Captain Kirk or Captain Jean-Luc Picard talking….to explore, to know. there is a Hindi word associated with it (it is actually a the meaning of many words fitted into one). It is called ‘Jignaysa’ – the strong desire to know and experience. I think travelers would certainly appreciate it.

To experience as no one has experienced before (which is always true: because you and i as individuals have our own unique psyche and personality and hence an unique experience that we can call our own- Just like our DNA).

He strongly supports traveling alone when push comes to shove. He says “You may be on your own when you board that flight to Bangkok or Mexico City, but believe me, once you arrive, you’ll NEVER actually be alone.

Happy Journeying

Traveler Profiles: Matthew Karsten of Expert Vagabond

I would like to introduce people who have inspired me travel more. There are many such people over the course of my life, and because of internet i can now introduce them to you all.

Meet Matthew Karsten of Expert Vagabond.

His philosophy/meta-frame of traveling in his own words

“Probably my most favorite quote of all time, “Adventure is worthwhile” can be traced back to the Greek or Ethiopian (no one knows for sure) storyteller Aesop, but it’s also attributed to Aristotle. Amelia Earhart used her own version: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” On my recent 6 hour hike through the Virgin River’s freezing 40 degree water at Zion National Park, these wise words frequently entered my mind.”

Matthew completed three years of full time traveling this November 2013. He has been featured in.

He is funny guy. His story of how he recovered his lost Laptop is hilarious and insightful. He calls it operation ‘Gringo Revenge’, and it lasted more than three months. Please read it. It’s very entertaining and informative.

Few of the many lessons he picked up traveling are

  • Travel doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Challenging your comfort zone is healthy.
  • Adventure is worthwhile.
  • Long-term wandering is possible at any age.
  • The world isn’t as dangerous as you think.

The following quote is his motto

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” ~ Alan Keightley

He says that patience while traveling and not sweating the small stuff is number one thing that he learned to appreciate while traveling.

Just think about that: Time is currency for those who have full time jobs, isn’t it. A missed plane – everything goes haywire. Since we jam-packed so many things into our schedule and we don’t leave time for just strolling and ‘wasting’!

One thing after another, one activity follows another. This site to see since it is number 1 in trip advisory. this place to go in this city, since that is what my friends have done, and so on so forth. and the opposite of above quote by Alan Keightlely comes to pass: We go on living from what others have told or have recommended.

We never give ourselves the luxury of exploration. We continue to run and run in our vacations and then come back exhausted and ready to plan for the next.

We all have to decide. People like Matthew Kasrsten our just guide posts. But we have to experience it ourselves.

He has wonderful tips on staying cheap. From what i have read on many full time traveler blogs is that after air-tickets accommodations are the most expensive. So we can save a lot and travel more if we can stomach staying at hostels or home-stays.

Another issue that he takes to heart is travel insurance and the importance of it.

His gear guide is phenomenal.

Happy Journeying

 

 

Bugs Night Out – Exotic foods – Thailand

Word of caution: This is not for the faint hearted. You are highly advised not to eat while reading this. Vegetarians are not encouraged to read any further.

Entomophagy, refers to eating bugs by humans. There are literally 100s of Insects eaten across nations of the world. Do you remember ‘slimy yet satisfying’ !! from Lion King?? Don’t gross out please. Personally, i like to eat what the Local culture eats – Its adventurous, and more than that shows respect to the Local Cuisine and people. My policy is – if thousands are eating it for centuries, there is not point not trying it.

Thailand is no strange place either. Dishes include fried giant red ants, crickets and June beetles, Crickets, Black Scropions among others.

They are usually deep fried, more like popcorn sensations when eaten.

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In Baan toom – Bats are from trees to tables – roasted over charcoals.

Insects are high in nutritional value and beat out both meat and fish in protein content and quality. They’re also rich in fiber and healthy micronutrients including copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

Thonglor area, Sidewalks in Kanchanaburi are good places to get started

ThaiantsThis is what Bangkok post says “Despite recent media excitement about big city restaurants in the West that highlight bug cuisine, such as San Francisco’s Don Bugito, New York’s Brooklyn Kitchen and Nice’s Michelin-starred Aphrodite, insect-eating is nothing new nor exotic in Thailand, where carts selling crispy fried grasshoppers can be spotted only a few metres from a KFC”

“But what makes our bug-eating culture remarkable is that Thais have consciously preserved, passed on and developed this culinary heritage to blend in with our modern gastronomy and urban lifestyle.”

Happy Eating