So you already know I got my Indian visa few months back and I was planning to go there. Finally just few days before my visa expires I went to India as a solo traveler. I love to travel and explore places. I have been travelling a lot lately, but I never gone solo before. In all other time, my friends were with me. This time, I was waiting for Rikon vai to get his visa so we can go together but he didn’t get the visa due to some passport related problem. So I was preparing myself to go alone. As much as I was excited to go to to a new county alone, I was scared as hell! Cause I was going to India! Which is one of the biggest country and I never been to a foreign country before. So I had a lot of thoughts how to communicate with the people there, things I should avoid and so on. I know that their language is Hindi and I will be in Kolkata who speaks Bengali just like us with just a little different pronunciation. I couldn’t take many pictures on the way as I had heavy bags with me. But i didn’t miss any chance of taking pictures when i reached Darjeeling even when i couldn’t focus due to low light and heavy clouds. So if this post doesn’t have much pictures then be sure you will be flooded with pictures in the next one.
I only had two days in hand before leaving for Kolkata via Haridaspur immigration point aka Benapole Border( called Petrapole by Indian People). So I did my research on Kolkata & Darjeeling also on immigration process, things I will be needing to go to Kolkata, I read a lot of blogs on travelling to India, which train I need to get on, As I will go to Darjeeling so how to go there and which places are must to visit for sight seeing! I also tried to book a hotel there via MakeMyTrip app suggested by Adnan vai but as I couldn’t decide which one will be better so didn’t. I also downloaded some other apps Like GrabTaxi, CheapFlights and Oye. So I was well prepared for my visit to India.
7th October (Day 1): The day before my journey to India. I packed my bags. As my backpack was with Onick vaia I had to pack my clothes the other bag of mine. Which is not good for travelling. Things I packed for travelling – clothes, books for reading in bus & train, Jacket as I will be in Darjeeling where the temperature goes down below 10 degree Celsius which is really cold for people like us from high-temperature countries, torch, archived few TV series in my Cell, Camera & a Notepad. Later at night I don’t know why I posted a question seeking help in a Group called Travelers of Bangladesh to check if anyone is going to India same time so I can hook up with them. Maybe I wasn’t ready for going to India alone! So one guy named Jawad bhai mentioned Habib Bhai who was also going on the same time and Habib Bhai said I can hook up if I want to. I wasn’t sure about them as I don’t know him.So what I did was I checked his facebook profile to find out few things about him. But there wasn’t much in his profile and ammu was saying not to go with them.I was lying that I know him, I met him before but in reality I never seen him. I talked with him over the phone asking for advice what else I need, how much money I should take and all. After talking with him, it felt like he is a good guy so I asked him to buy a ticket for me & he said he will. So I will be leaving for Dhaka tomorrow.
8th October (Day 2): I got up early in the morning, I came to the bus counter and bought my ticket for Dhaka. It was TR Travels. The bus started at 10 AM. It was raining heavily and I was enjoying my journey. It was a nice feeling. It took me almost 7 hours to get to Dhaka and I was really tired when I reached Dhaka at 6 PM. I wasn’t feeling good. I bought $200 for my expenses in India. I also had around 7K BDT cash with me. I called Habib vaia a few times to check whether he got the ticket or not but he didn’t pick up. So I was confused what to do. I thought if he doesn’t pick up the call I will sleep tonight and I will fly by plane tomorrow morning which takes around $80 and only 1 hours to reach Kolkata. Where by bus It will take around 12 hours. I also found a very good deal on MakeMyTrip which was a combo offer for Flight & Hotel booking. The offer was Round Trip + 2 days stay at a 3-star hotel in Kolkata for around $180. But all in vain Habib Bhai called at 9.30 and said he got the ticket and the bus will leave at 10.45 PM. So I did my dinner. My mom was worried about me going with someone unknown and asked me to leave my camera here (it’s been only 1 month I bought this new camera canon 600D) in Dhaka. As always I refused by saying nothing will happen don’t worry. I left for bus station at 10 and it was 15 minutes away from my aunt’s place. I reached there first and was waiting for Habib vai and his friends. After 10 minutes they came and we got to know each other. Att first meeting Habib vai seemed very nice and fun loving guy. His friends Faruq vai & Hasan vai is also a good guy and this tour would have been incomplete if Faruque vai wasn’t there. So our bus was 15 minutes late and it left for Benapole border at 11 PM.
9th October(Day 3): Our bus got stuck in Ferry. There was huge jam and we had to wait 2 hours to get into a ferry. So We reached at benapole at 8.10. We were already 2 hours late. The immigration process is another nightmare. To be honest, it’s so easy a child can do it but the people, Bookies, Coolies they make it look like hell. You better go through hell but not the immigration process. But In this blog I will share every detail you need to know for the immigration process!
Immigration Process: First you need to fill up a card they will give you. Which is easy just a few basic things like Your name, father’s name, birth date, visa no: which can be found in your visa, departure date, passport no, passport expire and issue date etc. Then you need to pay the travel tax which is 500tk BDT and one-time payment.
You can it in any bank near you or in the border where you will find a small office or room with Sonali bank or other banks name on it. After you paid the tax they will give you another receipt which you need to show along with your passport to immigration staff inside. After you do that they will seal your passport and the immigration part of Bangladesh is done. Now you will go to the Indian immigration where first you have to get in line and the Coolies will ask you for money to get you in front but believe me, it’s better you go in line. Cause everyone is waiting like you. It’s selfish to do something like that always try to follow the rules. So you will go inside the immigration office and again they will check your baggage and then again you have to fill up another card like the one you filled in for Bangladeshi immigration but this one for Indian immigration another office you. They will check your passport and visa and take a picture of you. After you do that you are ready to enter into India! What do you think? It’s really easy? It’s tough? Actually it’s easy but as I said the people around you will make it look like hell. Anyway just don’t bribe anyone to get this quickly done. Do this by your own and you will be beneficial. You will see 2 types of coolies there one who are wearing red and another who are wearing green shirts. I was thinking may be some of them are Bangladeshi and the other ones are Indians. Based on the shirts as the national flag of Bangladesh is green and red I thought may be the green ones are Bangladeshi. Actually the thing is they are Trinomul & Congress supporters and yeah some of the Bangladeshi ones do wear green. So we are off to India. It’s 10.45 so it took us around 2.30 hours to complete the process.
After crossing the immigration, Habib bhai asked us to convert our dollar into rupees from the money exchange booths situated just outside the immigration office. Habib bhai converted 200 dollars to rupees. Then we booked a taxi to go to Bonga station to get on the train to Kolkata. You can go directly from Dhaka to Kolkata by bus. GreenLine, Shohag & some other bus are providing this service they will get you into a bus from Dhaka to Benapole and then after crossing the border you will get into another bus of their waiting in the Indian side. But the thing is it takes more time and the bus leaves after all the people who came by one bus crosses the immigration. So if you want to take the shortcut and save your time follow the way we are going. So it took around 30 minutes to reach the station and in the meantime we made calls to our home and let them know we crossed the immigration. You will get Bangladeshi sim working inside India for 2 Kilometers from the border so you better do this quick.
After reaching the train station Habib vai booked 4 tickets for us and the train will leave at 11.30 sharp. So we didn’t have any time to do our breakfast yet the last time we ate was yesterday at dinner. I was really hungry but there was no time to eat. So we got in the train and it was a local train which was stopping on every station. After two crossing two stations, the train became very crowded with people and it was really hot inside. I wasn’t feeling well and dizzy as well. So after crossing 6-7 stations Habib vai got down and brought some foods & drinks for us. It’s really amazing what I saw in the train. The people were sitting side by side even when it’s really tough to move an inch. They were sweating but no complains. The ladies and guys were sitting side by side which is not possible in our country. I saw some Feriwalas selling goods like Chips, Chocolates, Apples, Nuts, Lassi & lot other stuff which I don’t even know. I was thinking how they can live by selling these things cause only a few people were buying those. Habib bhai was talking with local people about what is the easiest and best way to go to Darjeeling and all. So after 2 hours 45 minutes of journey we reached Kolkata Shealdah Junction. Which is very big and crowded. Everyone was running for their desired train. So after reaching Kolkata we tried to book a cab and go to a place called Fairly palace. Where you can book train tickets in foreign quota if you are a foreigner travelling to India. But we didn’t get any taxi cab instead we got on a AC bus. Which was jam packed with people and we had to stand inside and sweating even when the ac was running. After going few blocks, the ac wasn’t working anymore due to some technical problem. So it got more frustrating for me as I had to adjust with my bags in one hand and people pushing from behind to get in front. I was really mad at Habib bhai for not taking taxi cab but what to do now! One thing I noticed inside the bus that people were adjusting with one another if there’s any room or space available they were letting other use it which is a very rare scenario in our country. Also when the ac got switched off they didn’t say too many things. The bus driver and conductor was polite as well. He took half money from the passengers as the ac was not working. The bus driver was also worried about the Black smoke coming out from the bus. He talked to the mechanic asking should he bring the bus into the garage. So they are really worried about the environment. I felt really good seeing this. So it took us around 50 minutes to get to Fairly Palace and 60 rupees for 4 people and then another 30-40 minutes to get the tickets from there. It’s easy they will give you a paper where you have to put certain information’s like your name, birth date, journey date, which train you want, passport details etc. There were other foreigners as well. So we got the ticket from there. The price was 375 rupees per person. The train will leave at 10.45 and it’s called Super Fast Darjeeling Mail. After seeing the name I had no idea why is it called super fast and I was like how fast can a train go. So then we got to a Bengali hotel called hotel Khalek. We were so hungry we ate like monsters. We bought 3 sim cards for us so we can talk to our home. I also bought a net package so I can use facebook and all. As I can’t live without internet :3 . So after finishing this we gone to a place called Goal Chootor in new market. This place was awesome :p I saw the actual form of kolkata there nice girls, peoples, couples hanging out. The hole day I was thinking where is all the nice girls and now I found them 😀 The thing that got my attention was the attitude. There were many girls and guys hanging out they weren’t even looking at each other. They were busy within themselves. I forgot to tell you we had tea and the cups were so small that I had to drink twice! As I am a tea guy and I drink a hole big glass of tea everyday. The price was higher than Bangladesh too. 10 rupees per cup. So we left from there and reached Sealdah again at 9 PM. We got on our train. And in the other compartment there were 3 more foreigners. So the actual Journey to Darjeeling Started from here.
This is it for this blog. I don’t want to make it too big. So I will write the second part of this blog till then enjoy!