- Plan for tomorrow – Go to Agra and visit Taj Mahal
- Requirements – Purchase train tickets
- Projected likelihood of succeeding – Slim to none
So, train it is. Easy right? Go to the station, buy a ticket, get on board and off we go. Wrong! I guess we take for granted how straight forward it is to buy a ticket in the UK.
Go to ticket office -> buy ticket -> board train
The first battle – get to the station. We take our lives in our hands yet again, and we are immediately met with multiple men waving their arms at us saying we can’t go in without a ticket.
Then, a rather more friendly chap approaches us speaking very good English explaining that they are all in fact correct. He goes on to say that we do indeed need to go to this government office everyone is telling us about, but he could help us as he works for the railway. In fact, he sees it as his duty. This all sounds rather plausible, and says he could get us there on a tuk tuk for 20 rupees. Since it’s only 22 pence we thought, what the hell, let’s try this.
So, a new plan has emerged. Go to government office -> buy ticket -> board train.
- Government office = Good (Possibly)
- Tourist Information = Bad
Away we go, dodging and weaving in and out of traffic at break neck speed, and where do we end up? At a bloody tourist information office! Anyone who read one of our previous posts will remember we had deduced that tourist information offices were scams. Our hearts sank at the sight of the office sign, but as we were there we decided to go in and see what they had to say.
Inside was a very smartly dressed man who spoke excellent English. We spoke to him about our frustrations at the station, and the feeling that everyone is trying to scam you and constantly being on your guard. He seemed to understand, and actually apologised on behalf of India for making us feel that way. What a nice man.
Of course he could very well book the tickets on our behalf. We asked him how much commission he was taking from this price, to which he told us over 60% per person per ticket and I’m sure the tuk tuk driver got something for bringing us to him as well. Unbelievable!
- Tourist Information = Bad (confirmed)
- Government Office = None existent
We got out of there pretty quickly and headed to the nearest cafe. We needed to calm down, so ordered coffee and to set to work on plan B, or was it C?!
When our blood pressure had reached a more acceptable level, we started phase two (?!) of Mission: Ticket. We realised it was quite a walk back to the station from where we were, especially in 40 degrees and so we hired some transportation. We explained where we wanted to go and negotiated a good price and all seemed well with the world.
As soon as we got moving the driver started a conversation. Here is a brief overview
- Where are you from?
- Why do you want to go to the station? Where are you going?
- Do you have a ticket?
- No, we are going to buy them now
- You can’t buy from there. You need to go to the Government Office
- Please take us to the station
- You can’t buy tickets from there
- Take us to the station please
- But you you can’t buy tickets from there
- Just take us to the station please
- OK, but you can’t buy tickets from there
- Take us to the station please, that’s our problem
- OK OK, but you can’t buy tickets there
- Repeat x10
So, he caved when he saw that Seda was ready to kill him with nothing more that a straw hat and a plastic spork. Not a very honourable death by any stretch of the imagination.
So, he finally took us to the station, except he took us to a different gate where we did find a ticket office, but it was only for locals. Touché!
We were very close to where we needed to be as we could actually see trains through the fence. We just needed to find a shortcut through the station rather than walk the longer way around. I asked the nearest guy for help, who instantly recruited 5 other passers by. They had a mini conference trying to decide the best way. The appointed leader took the reigns and asked us to follow him. Again, he worked for the Government and was happy to help. We asked for some ID, which was not forthcoming strangely enough. After a couple of minutes of walking, what came into view? A tourist information office!
We ended up walking the long way around in the end, and as we approached the entrance for the second time that day, we are determined not to take any shit from anyone! Anyone that gets in our way would very quickly find out what a size 11 flip flop being inserted sideways feels like!
But no, in we march trouble free to our amazement. Back to where we stood 2 days previously when we went for a look around.
Unbelievably, tucked away around a corner at the bottom of a set of stairs there was a sign…
- Time spent in pursuit of tickets = 4 hours 45 minutes
- Time spent actually purchasing tickets = 15 minutes
Don’t you love the simplicity of how things work in Asia?