Monday, April 13, 2009
Around the world on trains
Just as so many who grew up in India traveling by trains, I also love traveling by trains. As my dad used to work in Indian Railways, we used to get two free passes to travel by first class anywhere in India. So, we used one of those passes to travel to Delhi every summer. I used to look forward to this journey and get so excited on the day of the travel. The journey back was always painful. Some times, we used to go up to Delhi from Gujarat during Diwali, but almost always, we would make this long journey at least once a year. This was a month long vacation which I used to look forward to. The day long journey, 10 AM to 7 AM the next day was an adventure in itself. So many stations to see, so much of land to discover, people to meet on the train. As I grew older, I used to love standing on the door and get down at every station and then wait for the train to start so that I could run and get on it. This also gave me nightmares of having missed the train at some point but the fun was worth the risk. Traveling by train also served to fulfill my innate curiosity of exploring new lands and people. I was a wanderlust and still believe that "not everyone who doesn't know where he/she is going is lost". Traveling was pleasurable then and comfortable unlike the travel by plane.
So since I am sick and can't really do anything productive with my mind, I let it wander. I let it wander to the deserts of central asia, to the peaks of alps, to the valleys of smokey mountains, to the icy peaks of himalayas and humid river plains of Vietnam and wondered, wouldn't it be awesome if I could go around the world on trains? Carrying with me the message of peace and brotherly love. Raise awareness of common human suffering and climate change. (shh...something good should come out of this) Wouldn't it be awesome to actually see this wonderful world from 5 ft instead of 35000 ft? Yes, that would be great. That is my dream. To be able to one day take the time off and have the resources and courage to go around the world on trains, automobiles and ferries instead of planes. I don't want to travel alone of course, it would be great to travel with others who would love to make this historic journey as well. I do love my life, so it would be great to know which areas to avoid and how to travel through the not so hospitable places without getting noticed/killed.
So I googled this and came up this website - http://www.seat61.com/India-overland.htm
This website explains how to travel from London to India and beyond but it also has other interesting train rides.
If I were to chose, of course, I would make every train ride going through each continent, but given that a journey around the world itself would be quite time/resource consuming, I came up with this itinerary.
San Francisco - Washington D.C. - New York
then fly over the pond to London.
Follow the London - Paris - Venice - Budapest - Istanbul - Tehran - Quetta - Amritsar route.
Since I have been thinking about doing a similar journey throughout India, go from Amritsar - New Delhi - Ahmedabad - Mumbai - Panaji - Bangalore - Thiruvananthapuram - Kanyakumari - Chennai - Hyderabad - Vizag - Kolkota.
Kolkata - Dhaka. Find a way to get to Yangoon and then to Bangkok - Phom Penh - Saigon - Beijing - Shanghai - Hong Kong - Tokyo and fly back to San Francisco.
Of course not all the cities are connected by train and I will have to travel by bus or ferries at times, but its do able... at least in my dreams. I will do the Trans Siberian, Silk Route, African, and Australian journeys some other time but this would be my first journey around the world on land, if it is a possibility at some point. And I would certainly take way more than 80 days to savor the journey...