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Our 11hr train journey from Goa to Mumbai on the Mandovi Express-10104

First Class on the 10104 Service

We have left the quiet village of Arambol and are headed for Mumbai CST, the busiest train stain in the whole of Asia!

I decided with 11 hours to kill that I should not only finish the post for Arambol but document our journey to Mumbai. We are travelling first class, or ‘1 A/C’ which was not our first choice but we left it too late for any other option. The trains here can be booked months in advance so the cheaper journeys were totally booked up for weeks and weeks. Our tickets were an expensive Rs2000 each (£23.40) but when you read about what we have and compare that to the UK it is quite impressive. So, we find ourselves on an enormous train with just half a carriage of 1 A/C. On the other occasion that we travelled first class we were in a four person compartment and luckily had it to ourselves. This time we have it even better – there are just 2.5 1 A/C compartments and we are in the half carriage – a private room to ourselves! The journey is scheduled to take just under 11 hours and covers 685km (425m.)

The journey started with a 40 minute taxi ride to Pernam railway station. It cost Rs300 (about £3.60) and we drove along the Goan side of the river which separates Goa from the neighbouring state of Marharastra. We had left plenty of time to catch the train so had a very cheap and mildly spicy breakfast at the quiet little train station.

This first class compartment is very nice indeed. We are provided with clean sheets, a blanket, pillow and a bar of soap each. We have seats/beds, a power point for charging, a sink, a variety of different lighting options, air conditioning, a bin, a cupboard with hanging space and a fan. Not only do we get all that but also free food! Our lunch of choice was provided free of charge and delivered to our compartment by one of the many many catering staff on board. We may even get dinner too!

We’ve explored most of the train and the best part was the pantry car. We first came through when we got on at the wrong end of the train and they were more than happy to let us squeeze past their massive pots with our bags, Henry just had to give them a 30 second blast of drumming to please the manager no end. It was fascinating – a real ‘behind the scenes’ view of things (it is not an area usually open to the public, all the food is sold to the passengers in their seats.) We returned there just after lunch to take some snaps but they were not too keen – said it was “too dirty” to photograph. Although it did look a little chaotic, the stuff on the floor was all peelings and it looked like it got a good wipe down every night and not too bad for just feeding hundreds of people. I got a few pictures but the one thing they cannot capture is the heat. We both agree that it is the hottest place we have ever been to, it was as if we were walking through an actual oven.

The food and drinks are carried up and down the train, seemingly non-stop, and there is a massive amount of choice on this particular train. The staff (all male) usually carry one thing each and call out their wares until they are flagged down. So far the choices on just this train have included: chai, coffee, water, milk, cool drinks, egg roll, chicken roll, veg patties, chicken lollipop (fried a bit like KFC), veg and chicken noodles, chicken manchurian, egg, veg or chicken fried rice, sandwiches, samosas, tomato soup, fruit salad, yogurt, various branded snacks and at least 3 other items we could not identify from the call (and did not catch a glimpse of because of our little compartment.) Henry always has a few coffees on the train as they are just how he likes it: moderately milky and very very sweet (it is pre mixed and after trying it several times I just stick to the water) They are also very affordable at just Rs6 each (0.7p!)

There are 2 toilets in our carriage, one Indian and one ‘western style’. It was the cleanest on any train we have been on and quite acceptable.

my feet on a moving Indian train

Update

I’m now re-reading this post before I post it over a week later. The update is we did actually have to pay for some of the food in the end. At the end of the journey a man came with a bill but we could not work out if it was for lunch, dinner or both and the man could not explain it so we will never know.

The last hour or so of the trip was spent crawling through the outskirts of Mumbai at a very slow pace passing many temporary settlements of people living under tarpaulins and cooking outside. The litter along the tracks got worse and worse. (There is a lot of litter along all the train tracks in India, the standard thing to do is to throw everything out of the window.) The trail of mess was added to by the man who cleaned our compartment. We were waiting by the door, watching the city pass us by, and the bin we had been pleased to see and dutifully using the whole journey was emptied out of the door on the other side! There seems to be no sense of pride or ‘keep India tidy’ feeling among the people. In all of our journeys we only met one man who was unhappy with the way everything was thrown out of the window and he did not say anything to those who were doing it in the same carriage. It is a shame because most of the stuff is not biodegradable and it is spoiling some stunning countryside.

A quick note on the scenery. We had the option of doing this trip overnight but read that the scenery is so amazing that it is recommended to take the daytime train. We felt that although there were some nice views, we have seen better in Kerala and the night journey would have been fine (and saved the price of a night’s accommodation.)
Mumbai CST is indeed a very busy station and even after 11pm (the train took over an hour longer than it should have done) it was still packed. We found the taxis and started to learn how different the accommodation is here from everywhere else we have been. We rejected 5 hotels before settling on one and finally getting to sleep at about 2.30am. (Reasons for rejection included cockroaches, the room being so small there was no space at all on 3 sides of a mini double bed, dirty sheets, water all over the floor, rude staff and others I can’t even remember as I was so tired.) It was a long day indeed and by the time we went to sleep we were not in love with Mumbai at all. Since then we have accepted that we have to pay a little more for a reasonable room and each day we have enjoyed the city more and more. Read all about it in the proper post about Mumbai, coming soon.

 

The Mandovi Express: Goa to Mumbai – April 19th 2012

 

5 thoughts on “Our 11hr train journey from Goa to Mumbai on the Mandovi Express-10104”

  1. elaine alsford says:

    hello Jenn & Henry,
    Chloe has shown me how to leave a message so I’m doing so , hope that is ok.
    do hope you are both well . i just wanted you to know how much we have enjoyed reading all your thoughtful posts and blogs. the photos have been so amazing , sometimes i feel i can all most touch the flowers/temples/people and animals! sometimes i also feel sad for the way life is for everyone there and you describe it all beautifully, making your experience very real. But you seem to have been welcomed at most places which is wonderful, except of course for the dreded cockroaches!!
    anyway we are all ok, Hattie has been made Twilight Supervisor full-time so she is working hard all hours. so we send you all our fondest love and enjoy your time with mum and Jess. thinking of you always xxx your old auntie xxxxxx

    1. Jen says:

      Hi Elaine!

      Of course it is OK to leave a message, that is what the comment thing is there for! You can also email me on minisuitcase@gmail.com if you like xx

      We have be welcomed everywhere really and now Thailand is a whole new experience. People stare a lot less here and smile a lot more although they don’t talk to us so much as many people don’t speak English.

      The cockroaches are pretty bad but we’ve not really another night like the one I wrote about in Thrissur again. It is the really big ones I don’t like – the babies I can cope with well now. There is a picture that will be on the gallery soon of the biggest spider I have ever seen in my whole life – from Arambol. It was bigger than my hand span and I could not catch it in a cup as it was too big! (it is contained in the picture though so don’t worry!)

      I hope you enjoy continue to enjoy reading the blog, it is great to get comments and know people are reading it as sometimes I can’t be bothered to write it so it spurs me on! Well done to Hattie on her new role – very impressive!

      Mum and Jess visiting is exciting – less than a week now!

      Take care, lots of love, Jen xx

  2. Peter says:

    Hi,
    Really enjoyed reading about the train. My wife and I both senior citizens from UK intend to do the reverse journey on same train to Goa from Bombay. It leaves at 07.10am from CST and we’ll be staying in Fort so not too far away.
    We want to go by train as part of the ‘experience’ of travelling in India.
    We are not newcomers to India but newcomers to the train! Your info was very helpful. Your ticket from Goa appears to be more expensive – I’m guessing you booked through an agent. On Cleartrip at the moment it’s about 2400rupees for the two of us. Meals not included but the train as you showed has a pantry. It is reported as having the best train cuisine!
    We were thinking of trying to get the Coupe you had with just the two berths. Was wondering if on reflection you may have thought the one with 4 berths may have been better option. Possibly the window being much bigger and some folk to talk to.
    If there’s any tips etc you could pass on it would be much appreciated.
    In Goa we’ll be staying in Colva. Was the first place I stayed at in Goa back in 1978! Changed a lot since I know but i still like it there.
    kindest regards,
    Peter

    1. mini suitcase says:

      Hi Peter, sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you. I’m pretty sure we booked the ticket online so I’m not sure about the prices you are being shown. We were very happy to have the privacy of just two berths on that journey. We spent 6 months in India and travelled by every class of train on various journeys, if you are only doing this one journey then perhaps it might be nice to speak to other people. I expect on that journey if you are sharing a berth it will most likely be with other tourists (both because it is first class and it is going to Goa.)

      We visited Colva on foot from where we were staying in Benaulim, it is quite an easy walk along a couple of miles of beach and Benaulim is worth a little visit for a change. Here is my post on Benaulim: http://www.minisuitcase.co.uk/benaulim-goa-17th-january-16th-february/ We saw quite a lot of Goa but my top recommendation would be to visit Panjim if you’ve not seen it already. We were there for a few days and it really is lovely, especially the really old parts. We liked it far more than our trip to Old Goa. Here’s the post on Panjim: http://www.minisuitcase.co.uk/panjim-panaji-goa-16th-21st-february/

      Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting Peter, I really appreciate it. If you have any other questions please let me know,

      Jen

      1. Peter says:

        Hi Jen,
        Many thanks indeed for your very informative reply.
        When i first went to India back in mid 70’s i did a bit of rail travel. Once went from Calcutta to Bombay! Cant really remember much other than Raj style police visiting each compartment to ask if they had ‘any services for the police’! Also meals were ordered hours in advance and telegraphed down the line to be served at a later station stop. Only two choices veg or non veg meals etc.
        I recall the stops being a hive of activity! Always about 15mins or more i think. Speed was not a factor in those days! I also went from Mangalore to Cochin by train.
        When i got to Bombay i needed to get to Colva in Goa as I had left some luggage there whilst I travelled around. In those days one could take the steamer ship from Bombay to Panjim. Great experience too. backpackers like myself then just rolled out sleeping bags on the deck! Was an overnight trip! Food included.
        I did get back to Colva ok.
        That really is why I have so much fondness about Colva although its changed so so much. Have been back twice since and next year will be the third time. I stayed in an old Portuguese styled house on the old road out of Colva. Run by two brothers and a sister. 5 rupees a night. If there were no rooms they let you roll out a sleeping bag in the main reception room till one became available. I always ate breakfast with them unlike the other backpackers there.
        When I went back first time in 2005 my wife and I decided to drop by. Obvioulsy I did not expect them to remember me after all those years-30odd. However, there was an incident that happened when i was with them back in 70’s.They called for my help about 2am one morning. Long story but I reminded Albert and his sister Clementine about it and to my surprise Albert recalled me straight away! Mr Peter! He said! You like tea! That was the benefit of having breakfast and the odd meal cooked by them. I always asked for extra pot of tea!
        They invited us back for dinner with them twice during our two week stay. Back in 70’s they had a lady doing the housework etc. Filling the water from the well into the bath area. Also she cleaned the pig toilets then. She had a little boy too who was about 3 then. Albert used to chase him around with a stick! I reminded them of that and told me the mother had died and the son, whose name has escaped me(Oliver i think) still lives with them! Now grown up! He was getting married later that year and invited us to attend his wedding but sadly we couldnt.
        I took some pics with Albert and Clementine. I sent them the pics and have always sent them a Xmas card but never had anything back. Back in 2005 Albert did not look too well. I fear he’s no longer with us. Clementine was also quite old and she may have passed on.
        As for Oliver- I have no idea.I just hope he kept the house.He may live there with his wife and have young children too. It was run down when I stayed there in 70’s and hadnt improved much in 2005! Only thing noticeable was that there were no longer any ‘pig toilets’!
        We shall definitely call by again but I guess i will be very nervous when i knock on the large door!

        Many people keep telling me they wouldnt recommend Colva but they dont understand why i have such a fondness regardless of how much it has changed.

        Back to the trains as I have digressed! Sorry about that! Thinking of taking the overnight train now. Leaves Bombay CST at 2305 arriving Margao about 10.45am. Hope we have enough daylight hours to appreciate the scenery!
        I think we’ll try and go 1AC if available. Getting senior citizen rates!
        Although we’re both knocking on a bit we still like a tad bit of adventure. generally always do our own planning and booking etc. We did the same for our trip to Kerala last year and Udaipur a few years back. Next January we will fly to Bombay. Stay a couple of nights in Fort and then take the train. I’ve already sorted a decent small hotel with a pool. Skylark I think its called.. We’ll then fly back to Bombay to connect with flight back to UK.

        generally we tend to go to the Philippines as my wife of 35 yrs is a Filipina and we have a house and cottage by the sea on MIndanao. We were there for 5 weeks earlier in year and stopped over for a week in Saigon. We loved Saigon.

        Sorry to go on a bit. I get a bit carried away!!!
        kindest regards,

        Peter

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