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Published: April 10th 2009
Today was an interesting day. It was a day of a 5 hour train journey from Agra to Chanderi. Because I am on an intrepid trip they believe in trying out the local transport as much as possible. So we spent 5 hours in a truely authentic Indian train. And boy was it an experience. The train station at Agra was very interesting. There are just people everywhere, as well as cows, donkeys, dogs and small children. The children are actually quite sad as you feel awful when they come up to beg money from you and you have to say no to them. Our guide has told us not to give anything to the children who beg as their parents send them out to beg instead of sending them to school, so if you give them money the money is actually going to their families, not the children, and the children will not get an education.
On the train we managed to get a section somewhat to ourselves. However keeping it to ourselves was another story all together. People are constantly coming past and wanting to sit with you. We had some small altercations with the ticket inspectors as
well. Suneil (our tour guide) told us later that the ticket inspector wanted to get some extra money out of him as he is corrupt.
We had little babies come to visit, cripples, lepers, old men, young men, old hags, youngish ladies. It was really quite an interesting experience.
After we had fininshed with the train we caught a couple of jeeps to a village in the mountains where we would be staying the night. The jeep ride to the hotel was another experience. The road was little more than a dirt track that had been lightly tar sealed over. There were pot holes for Africa (or India as the case maybe) and we discovered another very important use for the horn on the car. Apparently the horn can mean "watch out, I am going to drive at an insane speed and overtake the vehicle in front of me, into oncoming traffic, and their hard shouler, whilst also trying to avoid the cow that I am not allowed to kill because of my religion as well as not tumbling myself and all of my passengers into the filfthy river at the bottom of the slope that I
am precariously perched on". Then we had the pleasure of having to stop for a level crossing. All these vehicles started piling up and jockeying for position at the crossing so they could be the first across when the train had finished passing. Well when the level crossing arm finally went up it all went to hell in a handbasket. It was like a cross between chicken and bull rush. All the cars and motorcycles and trucks and bicycles just took off towards each other, bearing in mind that this is really only a single lane road (and I don't mean a single lane in each direction!).
We also stopped to see one of the largest hydro electric dams in Asia at present. I have to say that it really didn't look all that impressive when compared to the dams that we have back home in NZ. But it does pump out 45MW of electricity for the local people to use.
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