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Over the hills and far away
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Sleepless Nights

The way north turned out harder than we’d anticipated…
Even planning it was a hassle. Whenever we had picked a town that we wanted to visit, we realized that from there, no bus or train was going farther.
After about 1,5 hours of staring at a map and trying out different locations, we finally had the following plan:
Bangalore- Hyderabad- Nagpur- Jhansi- Khajurãho and then Agra and Delhi.
We didn’t book many nights on the way, since everyone had told us that there isn’t much to see.

The bus from Bangalore to Hyderabad was a very nice and comfortable one.
It rained most of the way, which was very welcome after the heat we’d experienced.

Hyderabad, however, welcomed us with noise, traffic and dirt.
hyderabat dirt
We had booked the cheapest hotel we’d found and hadn’t wasted much thought as to where that hotel was.
Finding it was a bit difficult. Friendly locals were able to help us though and soon enough we found the place and checked in.
It was only 7am and we were surprised that they already let us move into the room.
It was comfortable and there was wifi. First thing we did was sleep, but that was hard with the noise coming from outside.
What we had seen of the street in front of our hotel didn’t really make us want to go outside, but we wanted to see the old town of Hyderabad and the Charminar, so we left the “safety” of our room and dove into Hyderabad’s crowded streets.
GPS didn’t seem to work and the Uber we ordered brought us to a wrong place. No idea where exactly we ended up, but people stared at us the moment we got out of the car and beggars immediately tried to get our attention.
After looking for the vegan restaurant, which we had found online, for about 20 minutes, we finally realized that we were in a completely different area and gave up.
When people started pulling at our arms and asking us for money, we took the nearest Rickshaw and fled.
The Rickshaw-driver at least understood where we wanted to go and brought us right to the Charminar. That area was clearly dominated by Muslims and it reminded us of Dubai. We loved the Muslim architecture and the market was beautiful. Everything from hairbrushes over shoes to jewelry was being sold and even though the crowded street had made us feel uneasy at first, we quickly felt comfortable, realizing that people were extremely friendly and gave up asking us to buy something after one try.
hyderabat charminar
The Charminar was worth seeing as well, but like all tourist-attractions, it didn’t keep us busy for very long.
We then found a small restaurant with South Indian food, where we filled our tummies.
hyderabat food
Before going back to the hotel, we had to book a bus to Nagpur.
There weren’t any travel offices around though, so we walked for a while and finally understood why people tell certain stories about India.
We didn’t even try to count the men pissing on the side of the road and it became clear quite fast that this is apparently normal and that also those men don’t really try to hide anything.
At least we found a travel office at last and the staff was very helpful and friendly and in the end, we had our tickets and went back “home”.

We had planned to spend the next day in our room to avoid people altogether, but when René’s phone rang shortly before noon, our plans changed.
Some guy from the bus company told us that the bus had been cancelled. His English wasn’t very good and he couldn’t tell us what we were supposed to do now. After asking him for the fifth time if there would be another bus, he hung up on us.

Hoping, that the travel office was open, we ordered an Uber and stepped out into the heat of the day.
Uber drivers can be a bit weird. That’s something we realized that day.
After taking a wrong turn, our driver kicked us out of the car in the wrong place. Even though we had already paid by credit card.
We walked the rest of the way, again encountering urinating people on the side of the road.
The office was open though and the man who had sold us the tickets was extremely annoyed by the bus company and scolded them over the phone, before giving us the money back and then selling us different tickets.
On our way back, we got kicked out of the taxi again because the driver was too lazy to take a U-turn after driving the wrong way. This time though, we told him exactly what we thought of this, before stepping out into the chaos of traffic. The ground was muddy from the rain and naked people were lying on the side of the road. After walking for a bit, though, we found a restaurant where we filled our empty stomachs and were able to walk back to our hotel.
There, we asked when check-out was supposed to be and they answered: at 7.30am.
We thought it was a joke at first but then they explained that the hotel had a 24-hour check-in policy. We had thought that meant that the reception is open 24/7, but well…
We sure as hell didn’t want to get up so early in the morning (especially because we had booked a night-bus again and what were we supposed to do for a whole day, when carrying our luggage?)
What annoyed us was that no one had told us about the check-out when we had arrived at the hotel. If they had, we wouldn’t have moved into the room until noon. Anyway, when we asked if we could pay 300 Rupees and check out later, the staff got insolent and after arguing for a while, we had to pay another full night just to be able to check out a bit later.
Well, we made the best of it and stayed in the room until shortly before the departure of our bus.
hyderabat waiting for bus
When we were brought to the place from which our night-bus was supposed to depart, we looked out the window and realized that Hyderabad would have had so much more to offer than the Charminar and noisy streets. But none of what we saw from the bus window had been mentioned in the Lonely planet or anywhere else.

Again, the bus-journey was nice, but as always, we weren’t able to sleep more than two or three hours and again, we were rather tired when we arrived in Nagpur.
Our first impression was that there were less people and the streets were clean, but again, the hotel we had booked was not in the best area, even though it’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet. It didn’t really matter, because it was close to the train station and that’s why we’d chosen it.
This time, we knew better about the check-in and we waited four hours before checking in at around noon.
Despite having waited so long in the hotel lobby and having already announced that we would check in later, the room wasn’t ready when we were finally led upstairs.
We waited patiently and watched the staff clean the room.
Sometimes it’s better not to know what happens in hotels, trust me. The pillows were thrown onto the dirty floor several times before they put them on the bed and we noticed that they left the blankets that had already been used.
We didn’t care though, travelling makes you indifferent to things like that.
At least we had a balcony with a very nice view into the rooms of other hotels…
First thing we had to do was go to the train station and get our tickets confirmed, because apparently, we were still on the waiting list but the tickets from Jhansi onward had already been confirmed, so we definitely had to leave Nagpur as planned.
The way to the train station was both adventurous and beautiful. The ground was muddy, trash was everywhere, naked children were bathing in puddles, fish still alive and gasping heart-breakingly were being sold in plastic boxes, colorful and deliciously smelling fruits were stacked on wooden wagons while Indian fast-food was being prepared on stoves out in the sun. Getting rid of a very persistent child-beggar turned out to be hard and one of the children with mud on their faces tried to steal from us but in the end, we found our destination.
The friendly man at the ticket-counter informed us that our tickets would either be confirmed the next morning, 4 hours before the departure of our train or, well… not at all.
He then offered to sell us different tickets, ones that were already confirmed and we took the offer.
Our new train was supposed to depart sooner, which gave us not only two hours in Jhansi, but a full night.
And also, since it was the first time that our train-ride took place during the day, we were able to enjoy the beautiful view from the train window.
india train-2
We love train-rides. That much we know.
Though sleep usually doesn’t come, at least it gives us the chance to listen to music and daydream for hours- something especially Nici needs once in a while. René got hooked up on Game of Thrones again and can be seen reading for 6 hours straight.

Our train was late though and when we arrived in Jhansi, it was already 2am.
We had booked a 3-star hotel this time, because it was the only one still available near the train station. Looking forward to a comfortable and undisturbed sleep, we checked in gladly.
Despite the 24-hour reception (yes, this time we’re talking about the opening hours), the staff had to be woken and check-in took a bit longer, because they were still very sleepy.
The room looked extremely comfortable though and after brushing our teeth, we crept underneath the covers of the bed gratefully and closed our eyes.
About 20 minutes later though, there was a knock on our door and when we opened, no one was there.
Shrugging, we tried to sleep again but shortly after, our doorbell rang and again, René got up to open the door and encountered a deserted corridor.
He then went back to the reception to see if they maybe needed something, but the staff was asleep again.
When the knocking and ringing started again, we opened the door as quickly as possible but still, no one was there.
After that, we ignored it, but sleeping was impossible and we wondered if someone was trying to be funny or if the hotel was haunted.
After maybe two hours of sleep, the doorbell rang again at 7am and when René opened, one of the staff members was there and asked us for our passports. No idea why, since we had already given it to them when checking in and they had taken copies.
Again, the doorbell rang when they brought the passports back.
At 7.30, they called the phone in our room and demanded our phone number for some reason.
When they finally left us alone, a loud banging noise started on one of the upper-floors. No idea if there was construction work being done or if someone was banging their head into the wall, but again, the noise kept us awake.

The train was about two hours late and we soaked in our sweat in 40-degrees, waiting at the train-station and eating samosas that contained a lot of unrecognizable things and one even a dead fly.
When the train finally came, Nici fled to the upper berth, put on her headphones and ignored the world, but René got wrapped up in a conversation with local teenagers.
india train
india train-3
We reached Khajurãho about five hours too late, but the manager of our guesthouse was still waiting for us and brought us to his place in a Rickshaw.

The guesthouse looked nice and it was incredibly cheap. We only paid 100 Rupees per night.

Khajurãho is the place where you can find the Kamasutra-temples, which was our main motivation to visit this place. But apart from that, it has a lot to offer and to our relief, it was much more civilized than Nagpur and Hyderabad and also- and that’s the most important- smaller.
Khajurãho’s charm reminded us of Hampi and we felt at home right away.

Convinced that this place would treat us better, we dropped into bed and tried to sleep.

Well, try sleeping when it’s about 45 degrees in the room. Our fan brought relief, but that night, the electricity in town stopped working at least four times and we always woke up because it felt like lying in a sauna and we could barely breathe.
When it was already light outside, sleep finally came, but then a dog started crying like crazy and it didn’t stop for hours.
Khajuraho Temple
Khajuraho Temple-2
We spent the first day being driven around in a Rickshaw and visiting the temples. They were nice and beautiful, but like in Hampi, we got bored quite fast and also, it was incredibly hot. Temperatures climbed up to at least 40 degrees during the day and we soon just wanted to go in the shade and cool down.
Khajuraho Temple-3
Back at our guesthouse, we encountered the crying dog and it was a horrible sight. She had a broken leg, was only skin and bones with wounds all over her body and swollen feet and she collapsed several times.
The manager of our guesthouse explained to us that he had been looking after the dog for a couple of days already but that she wouldn’t eat.

The next night was the same. The electricity went out at about 3am and it was raining outside, but our room remained extremely hot and suffocating, so all we could do was sit outside in the rain and wait for the electricity to return.
Despite the rain though, there were hundreds of mosquitos and we soon got bitten all over.

At 4am, the alarm sounded anyway, because we had booked a tiger-safari.
At least we were able to enjoy the sunrise when we were brought to the National Park in a jeep.
Tiger Safari
The safari was disappointing. We glimpsed the tiger from afar, but the rangers were all talking loudly or eating or making phone-calls and it was no wonder that the poor animal darted away as soon as it spotted us.
After that, the rangers kept saying: “Oh you’re so lucky, you saw the tiger!”
And apparently, they thought their duty was done and we were driven out of the park at 9am, even though our tickets said the safari would be over at 11am.
Needless to say that we were a bit annoyed and we didn’t feel like doing anything else that day, but when we came back to the guesthouse, the dog had returned.
She had found her way through the closed gate and was now standing in the yard, howling and crying in such a horrible manner, that it broke our heart and the neighbors started complaining.
Scared that someone might kill the dog, we kept her inside and gave her some water, but her agony was so horrible, we ended up just hoping she might finally die.
She kept collapsing and forcing herself back up and her whole body was twitching. Then, she started to chew everything she found and ended up breaking things in our guesthouse as well as our shoes. When she started to chew Nici’s feet, we had enough and called the manager and he brought her to the vet.
Later that day, we were on our way to see the sunset, but guess who we encountered on the road, limping back towards the guesthouse… right, the dog.
The manager of the guesthouse had called her Sara and he loaded her in the car right away.
Together, we drove back to the vet, who apparently had put her back on the streets. Or maybe she had run away, we don’t know.
Anyway, he said that nothing could be done.
Putting her to sleep wasn’t possible because he didn’t have the injection available. He gave her something else instead and told us to bring her somewhere to let her die in peace.
We did, but five hours later, she was back at the guesthouse, having found her way back.

All we wanted was to sleep, but Sara wouldn’t stop crying and screaming and chewing up things, so the manager put her on the roof of the guesthouse.
There, she was quiet for a couple of hours and we managed to fall asleep, but soon enough her screams awoke us again and in the end, after not having slept properly for days, René ended up sitting on the bed, laughing hysterically and Nici had given up the idea of sleep once and for all.

The next morning, when we were driven to the train station, we couldn’t wait to board the train and leave this place behind once and for all.

And despite being on the verge to insanity, still, sleep would not come.

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