The alarm rang early this morning and I did not want to get out of bead. The plan today was to leave Bangladesh and head to Kolkata – a long journey for a relatively small distance. I wasn’t feeling well though, and so we decided to sleep a little longer and see if things improved.
A few hours later I was no better, but with no room available in our hotel we had to move. Down with a fever, I was going to be useless but I resolved to complain as little as possible while Travis resolved to handle everything.
I will keep the details of our travels brief, as it was lengthy, but I’ve kept track of the number of transport for you!
We got ready to go and grabbed a baby taxi at about 11 AM (1) to bring us to the bus station. From there we grabbed a bus (2) and headed into the next town.
As a requirement of exiting Bangladesh, one needs to deposit the equivalent of about $3 Canadian into a governmental bank account – it’s complicated but it prevents corruption at the border (i.e., people pocketing the money instead, or charging more). We had to do this into town, and so we hired a baby taxi to take us to the bank and back (3). Travis is really the only one who can tell the story (as I waited in the taxi with our bags), but paying our exit fee took over 30 minutes and involved opening Bangladeshi bank accounts (what will we do with those?) and a Kafka-esque mess of paperwork.
Once back at the bus station we grabbed another bus (4), this time to the border town with India. Once there, we grabbed a quick, satisfying lunch of chicken and hopped on a flatbed cyclo (5) to take us to the actual border.
The border process on the Bangladeshi side went well. While no one looked at our exit fee receipts, I bet that had we not had them, it would have been a big mess.
Off we were to the Indian side of the border, where our visa was validated and we were finally able to exchange our money into rupees. We then hired an autorickshaw (6) to the train station, and from there we took the local train (7) into Kolkata.
Once is Kolkata, we sat down in a quiet corner and looked in our guidebook for places to stay. Options looked grim at best – it felt as though the city wasn’t really that great and that we would have to pay a lot for a really horrible, dirty room. Realizing that we both never had wanted to go to Kolkata, and that there was nothing here we wanted to see, we made a bold decision: to keep traveling a head into Varanasi right away. No matter how unwell I felt (drained, weak, sweaty, damp with fever coming and going), I felt better with the idea of moving on than staying there, and excited about waking up in Varanasi.
Lucky for us, and thank to a really friendly employee at the ticket counter, we were able to get into one of the next trains into Varanasi, leaving that very night. All we had to do was wait an extra 6 hours or so…
By 11:30 PM the train had finally arrived (8), and once we found our section we were pleased to find that we had our whole compartment to ourselves. The train also felt clean and new: it looked at though the night ahead would be peaceful and comfortable. After such a long journey, and after overcrowded buses and trains, we deserved it!