Well, the night train was interesting. Not really a Darjeeling Express, but not too bad.
When we went to get the ticket from the station, a man comes up to us and asks if we’re looking for the ticket office. We say yes, and he asks us to follow him. Somehow we end up at a travel agency across from the station. We tell them what we want, and they check on the computer and say the train is full. But they have R800 night busses we can catch, leaving at night and getting there in the morning. Well, we say thank you and go and find the proper ticket office. There are tickets available (because they keep some aside for foreign tourists) and they are a lot cheaper than R800.
We took a rickshaw to the hotel we wanted to stay at, and the guy comes in with us, wakes up the night manager sand says something (not in English). The driver then tells us it’s full. We go out, and the driver then shows us some cards of hotels he’s thinks should be okay. We say, no thank you and pay him, and walk on. After the rickshaw has left, we go back to the hotel that we wanted and wake the guy up again. He immediately gets up and we start talking.
The hotel was full, but a room became available at 7am, if we would like to wait. (We arrived at about 5am. Not fun, but not hot, either.) I think the rickshaw driver might have asked it the hotel paid commissions for bringing guests, and the answer was no. So, we got a good room, cheaper than rack rates (which is interesting since it was actually full.)
So, I’m learning to be stronger with touts. I’ll need that skill for the Bangkok to Saim Reap trip, which sounds like tout hell.