The work engagement has mostly ended for this India trip. So now, we begin the fun by following suggests from some Secaucus friends that formerly lived in Delhi – get out of Delhi. The Indian state of Rajasthan is my destination with the city of Jaipur as my centre of operations. But, how to get there.

You can fly to Jaipur, take a slow train, or the slower still state-run bus service. Or, as suggested by Bob, “ride a bus with chickens.” So, I did. Unfortunately, no chickens on the ride, but I swear I saw some feathers on my seat. So, for 200 Rupees ($4.44), I took a 35-person bus about 234km with 60 wonderful people. Megabus to Boston is 303km at $22ish; so 7.2¢ vs 1.8¢ per km – bite it Megabus.

The bus was a normal bus like most others, except that they divided the vertical space in half in a very ‘we already have the spare parts’ flair. I had ample clearance sitting down – there was just someone laying above me. Plus we shared the same large window across both stories. In fact, that upper berth had no metal support as the person lay – if he leaned too against the plexiglas, he’d fall out the side.

Sleep'n on duh engine block

Didn’t have to worry too much about the safety glass on the bus’s door as I believe the bus didn’t have a door. No need for air conditioning that way. The bus had a front mount engine and the driver sat beside it (kinda like some school buses). Instead of wasting space with the enge, they mounted a padded carpet shelf over it to allow people to sit; leaving a small cutout for the gear shift.

Google says it would take 3h17m for this trip on National Highway 8. Google assumes things like people driving in lanes, constant speeds, zero construction, no dodging of horses, and even pavement. The is an example of a Google fail.

There is no word in Hindi for “expressway”. I don’t think there is a word for “freeway” or “turnpike” either. It was a four lane road with a divider in the middle most of the way. Over the length of NH-8, a single bridge was found at what could be almost described as interchange. Since there are no bridges, there are breaks in the dividers to allow u-turns, people crossing, and cross streets. Plus, in many of the villages and small cities, they are starting to build overpasses adding construction to the mix. Plus we had to pass three elephants. Google is wrong by about 2h30m hours in its calculations.

I hopped on the bus about 10:45 and arrived at 16:00 – so why 90 more minutes than what Google should have said? This wasn’t the express bus, so there were a bunch of stops. Sometimes, they included slowing down along a few crowds of people and shouting “jah-pour jah-pour jah-pour” like an auctioneer. For a few pickups and drop-offs, we didn’t even come to a complete stop; just leap. There were a few food vendors that got on for a single stop, selling samosas and other yummie smelling wares. But, on the advice of a wise sagess, never eat from the street vendors. Plus toll booths and a gas refill.

Then there was the big stop for a snack at a street side hole in the wall. And when in Rome, I decide to partake in a traditional India male rite of passage: just take a piss on the side of the road. Don’t try to be subtle and hide behind a tree – just stand there and go.

The stop also involved impromptu repair. Some guys crawled under the truck with a large reservoir grease gun to do something with the drive train or axle and hopefully not the brakes.

Was the chicken bus worth it? Yes. I will admit that I was anxious when I noticed the bus would be making stops. I wasn’t sure if the luggage compartment was locked (it was) and if someone would walk off with my bags. I might do it again, but without luggage and with a companion to assist in the adventure (preferably one that speaks Hindi).