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Vietnamese boy abandoned by passenger car in India

In the middle of a bustling roundabout, Dy Khoa waited for hours only to receive a notice that the bus could not pick him up.

Below is the sharing of Dy Khoa, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, about his trip to India, through three cities of New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai at the end of April.

My first trip to India was over 4 years ago. With quite a bit of experience traveling abroad alone, I confidently return to this country again without a companion. Ever experienced Indian trainthis time I want to learn more about long-distance bus.

According to the original plan, I moved to Delhi – Ahmedabad and Mumbai – Delhi by domestic airline. The route from Ahmedabad to Mumbai I took a bus, a high-quality air-conditioned service bus ticket of more than 500,000 VND for a distance of about 600 km connecting two major cities located in West India.

A Vietnamese boy going to India was abandoned by a passenger car

Dy Khoa in Delhi, India during the trip.

I flew to Ahmedabad and booked the bus ticket on a fairly reputable Indian online platform. The bus departs from 10pm to 8am the next day to arrive, saving me the cost of a hotel night.

I chose the boarding point at Ujala Circle – a large roundabout between three main roads and 4-5 branch roads, about 15 km from the center. I arrived an hour earlier than departure time. Looking at my surroundings, I began to worry because the roads were very chaotic. The construction site is under construction, the smoke is thick and there is no sign of any car company.

I message the garage’s customer service channel on the Whatsapp application, which is the only communication channel. I reported that I had reached the pick-up point and couldn’t find the company. I left my personal phone number with the instruction: “When the car comes, call me. I’m a foreigner, don’t know anything about this place. It’s very messy here”.

But the online platform continuously announced that the bus was delayed, taking up to 1.5 hours in total. I continued to chat with the customer service staff and was provided with the phone number of the car assistant. I called many times but no one answered the phone, so I texted in the hope that they would let me know when the car arrived. From nervousness to fear, in the middle of a forest of strangers, crowded together to get into the car.

Vehicles at the Ujala Circle roundabout, Ahmedabad city, western state of Gujarat.  Photo: Dy Khoa

Vehicles at the Ujala Circle roundabout, Ahmedabad city, western state of Gujarat. Photo: Dy Khoa

When my online journey suddenly changed from “Delay” to “On time”, I felt more and more insecure. I asked the customer service staff via text message but did not receive a satisfactory answer. After that, the bus attendant called to say that he had passed through Ujala Circle and could not pick me up. This person asked me to go to another point in the city to catch another train. The customer service side confirmed that there was no new bus as instructed by the assistant, and no refunds for tickets.

I was whirled between two streams of information, further angered that there was no call center to complain to. At that time, the clock has changed to a new date. From Ahmedabad to Mumbai you can also take a train, the earliest one starts at 6am. I was planning to go this way to keep up with my schedule in Mumbai but was helpless because I couldn’t log into my old account.

In the middle of the night, I ventured to search for last-minute airline tickets – often much more expensive than the ones booked in advance. However, my ticket for the flight at 6:40 am less than 700,000 VND, while the regular ticket is 1.6 million VND. I landed in Mumbai around 8:00, after a lonely night in a foreign country because of traffic.

Dy Khoa arrived at the airport in a lethargic state after nearly 4 hours waiting for the bus at the roundabout.

Dy Khoa arrived at the airport in a lethargic state after nearly 4 hours waiting for the bus at the roundabout.

On the return day, I booked a car to take me from the center of Delhi to Indira Gandhi airport. However, the experience is still the same as the never-coming train in Ahmedabad. The difference is probably in the waiting time – 1.5 hours – to receive notification that there is no bus to pick you up to the airport. I decided to take the train in time to check in for the plane.

My lesson if I go back to India is to believe in yourself and stay calm to handle any contingencies that may arise. I will prioritize traveling by plane or train because there are fixed airports and stations. As for the airport shuttle, next time I will ask the hotel’s service even though the price may be more expensive, to ensure the schedule.

India’s visa procedures have not changed compared to before the pandemic. Vietnamese citizens can get the results in 24 hours or 72 hours at the latest after successful application. I had a bit of a problem with my new passport being reissued after 10 years so the declaration information about old trips needs to be reconciled, maybe the system takes a little longer but not more than four days. I was successfully granted a tourist visa for 10.25 USD, with a stay of 30 days.

The flight landed in the Indian capital at night, minimizing the chance of me getting heatstroke. However, by noon the next day, my body could not adapt to the hot weather up to 50 degrees Celsius. I felt dizzy, the hotel staff assisted in adding electrolytes.

In the following days in India, I drank oresol with a bottle of filtered water with me to avoid dehydration. Interestingly, one-liter bottles of most brands sell for 20 rupees in most cities in the country, although meal costs can vary. Therefore, I only drink bottled water to ensure health, even though public drinking fountains are very common in this country.

Dy Khoa

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