Vizag to Hyderabad, India
Day 172: Country #20
When I booked the train from Kolkata to Vizag, the agent told me that the ticket had a 50% foreigner tax, which really upset me because I don’t like blatant price discrimination policies like that, so I looked into bus options. However, I was not able to book on my own without an Indian phone number, even though I was capable of getting text messages on my phone plan.
The hotel staff were super nice and helped me book an online ticket at a cheaper price than the train, which would allow me to see more urban areas because the train seemed to run through the countryside. Once the ticket was booked, I grabbed breakfast , which was included at the restaurant next door where I got my hands on some newspapers. An advertisement about car horn honking was an amusing appeal given how ingrained the behavior seems to be within Indian culture.
Then I headed west to Central Park, a pretty large green space featuring a few small, but pristine gardens. It took a little while to walk through, find a way out, then around the park so that I could continue toward Vizag Central to check out what looked like a large commercial center full of malls. I found myself passing through large sections of hospitals and clinics, which made me further wonder why a relatively small city had so many facilities.
After some distance, I finally reached the Dutch Cemetery, which marked the beginning of the shopping district. Interestingly, this proximity between a cemetery and malls seemed to be the case with Kolkata’s Park street.
None of the malls which I entered felt that big nor like real malls because each seemed to be it’s own stand alone department store with a few smaller auxiliary retailers. There were Sari’s, traditional women’s outfit, galore in all sorts of colors.
I didn’t stay very long as I needed to get back to to hotel to catch a taxi to the bus stop, which was located on the far north of the city. As I waited, I talked to another person going to Hyderabad and realized there are lots of bus options, but you need to find them. Many buses passed by and I began to worry, but I knew I was in the right spot because the hotel staff member who helped me buy the ticket also directed the taxi driver.
Eventually the sleeper bus arrived, but stopped far from the bus stop. It took a while for them to spot me, but they eventually did and I was glad they didn’t just leave without me. I was confused by the bus’ bed layout because it was designed like a train, but buses can jerk around in stop and go traffic, which could cause people to roll off their beds. I found a seat belt and strapped myself down for the long overnight journey to Hyderabad.
The easiest option with long distance buses is to catch them at the departure point, usually a bus tour office. This way, you don’t have to worry if the bus is late because the staff there will give updates and reassurances. If you must catch a bus from a bus stop, make sure you know exactly where to wait or else the bus will miss you, then you’ll be out of luck.