Apr 26, 2012

Female Solo Traveler in India or How Helen Traveled Alone on a Night Train

Another morning in Varanasi started with a fresh breeze of burning smell from Manikarnika Ghat. Helen felt better and we headed towards railway station to meet this beauty on our way

Train was late for almost 2 hours and Val chased locals for authentic shots during that time

And when it arrived, Val went to explore sleeper class, which is the best place to hang out with locals

At frequent train stops Val liked to step outside the train to make shots of pilgrims and other passengers

He was told that at Lucknow train would stop for 30 min, which was more than enough to buy some rice and bananas. Val came back in 18 minutes and the train was already gone. Gone with passports, money, phone and his wife. All he had was a bag of rice, few bananas, 100 rupees ($2) and a train ticket. 

As the train started moving, Helen became nervous. Indian family encouraged her that "uncle" might have jumped into another car and soon would be back. Not only they supported Helen on a lonely trip, they also kindly served her dinner and were enthusiastic to learn some Latvian

Meanwhile in Lucknow Val was on a firefighting mode - rickshaw, horse or a safari jeep - which one is the best to catch the train? Train station manager, however, had a more down to earth plan. He called the train manager to let us coordinate actions - Helen travels until the end, while Val takes next available train and reaches Helen next morning one hour after her arrival. To do that Val's ticket got a special permission

And Mr.runaway got a written explanation, which trains to take

At night Val had to win a cash-less battle with a bribe-savy train conductor, who wouldn't accept the "golden" ticket, and Helen had to stay alert not to miss her stop. Nevertheless, next morning we were happily reunited in a holy town of Haridwar.


Oh wow... that is crazy. I would have freaked out. That is something that scares me... getting off and it leaving with all my stuff.

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