Tag Archives: bus

Backpacking India: Fun with local transport


We had fun taking local buses and shared jeeps between Aurangabad, Ellora Caves, Ajanta, and Bhusawal.

Our first bus experience was awesome and we were naive enough to expect them all to be smooth. We got to the bus depot, ignored the private taxi drivers, asked which bus was going to Ellora, and had the conductor of our bus escort us on just as the bus was leaving. It was a smooth, uncrowded, direct ride to the caves for only 68 rupees.

On the way back, someone grabbed us before we got to the bus stop and offered us a ride in a shared jeep that was leaving soon for the same price. Unsure when the bus would come, we jumped in. We saw 3 buses pass us on the way back while our driver stopped repeatedly to haggle with passengers and try to fill up his jeep.

The next day we had to get to Ajanta. We ignored offers of shared jeeps (fool me once) and tried to catch a bus. This time it was much busier and it took a lot of asking around and waiting while jeep drivers harassed us before we found the right one.

On Tuesday morning we had to get from our hotel to the Ajanta Caves t-junction, a few km away. The hotel manager called a rickshaw and said it would be there in 2 minutes. After waiting for 10 we decided to wave down any vehicle that would drive us. A jeep stopped and we jumped in the back without even asking the price. When we got out, the young Muslim men in the front wouldn’t take any money and just gestured to the sky in prayer and smiled. Praise be to Allah.

After the caves we needed one last bus to get us to Bhusaval where our train to Agra would depart from. We waited near the t-junction for a bus, even though the rickshaw drivers told us we needed to go to town to catch a bus. We knew there was a stop there because our bus on the way in tried to deposit us there. Plus there was a family waiting with us. After 3 buses drove by without stopping, despite our waving, I relented and overpaid for a shared ride to the bus stand 2 km away. A few minutes later a bus came by, luckily going to Bhusaval. We got on and saw the family from before already on the bus.

On. Other crowded bus rides, an auntie decided Emily was too skinny to have a seat all to herself and squeezed in next to her. This is India after all.

The bus rides were bumpy, crowded, and hot, but relatively quick and super cheap. As long as you can get a seat, they’re a fun experience. At major stops boys would walk the aisles and poke into the windows offering snacks and drinks for sale.

Car-Free Weekend – Saturna Island

Dinner on the Docks
Car-free travelling is care-free travelling, especially on the long-weekend when ferry reservations are in short supply and border line-ups are hours long. Our latest car-free adventure was to Saturna Island, one of BC’s Gulf Islands.

Saturna Island is one of the more difficult islands to reach by ferry, requiring at least one transfer at Mayne or Swartz Bay. Saturna seems more relaxed, friendlier, and quieter then the other gulf islands I’ve visited (maybe because it is more inaccessible). This is island life at its best. The locals are friendly, we were able to book last minute accommodation, the roads don’t have a lot of traffic, and we had no problems hitch-hiking around the island.

We stayed at the Breezy Bay Bed and Breakfast, located in a charming old farmhouse with an interesting history. It was originally built in 1892, then it was turned into a commune, was a free school for several years, and now it’s a bed and breakfast. I highly recommend the Breezy Bay Bed and Breakfast – it’s a great old building with some interesting spaces, the farm has frisky cows, and unlike some b&b’s I didn’t feel like I was intruding on someone. Matt and Meg, who are currently running the joint, made us feel welcome and cooked up some wicked breakfast, including gluten-free and veggie options.

On Sunday, we biked down to the other side of the island and hiked around Narvaez Bay. We ran into deer, wild turkeys, feral goats, and lots of sea creatures in the tidal pools. Emily got a flat tire, which we were able to pump up enough to get her home, but it wouldn’t hold enough air on Monday. So we ended up hitch-hiking around the island. Two of the friends we were travelling with didn’t bring their bikes and had no trouble getting rides, so we decided to hitch hike to and from Winter Cove. Saturna doesn’t have an informal car taxi system, like Mayne Island, but most locals will stop to pick up passengers. The General Store has couches in front where people wait to get rides. On our way back from Winter Cove, we were picked up by one of the owners of Breezy Bay, and he told us some interesting stories on the ride. I still prefer cycling, but hitch-hiking is a great way to meet the locals.

Saturna Island is home to a winery (which we didn’t visit, but we did try the pinot gris in the pub and bought a bottle at the General Store to bring home) and Go Nuts Burgers, which we were disappointed the pub sold out of, but you can buy them in Vancouver. There isn’t a lot of restaurant options, other then the pub and a cafe in the General Store. The one attraction we missed visiting (due to bike problems) was East Point, where whales can often we seen of of the coast. We’ll have to save that for the next trip.

The only downside to a car-free, bike trip to the gulf islands is getting to/from the ferry terminal with your bike. It’s a long ride from Vancouver to Tsawwassen and you have to shuttle through the Massey Tunnel, so I don’t recommend biking there. You can take your bikes on the bus, which is what we always do, but it’s a stressful journey because each bus only takes 2 bikes and there are lots of cyclists vying for those spaces. On the way home we had 8 bikes rush off our ferry to jockey for bus spots. Luckily, we were all able to get on the next 4 buses that left within 30 minutes, but I wish Translink would offer a more reliable option for cyclists trying to get to/from the ferry terminals.

Travelling By BikeSaturna Island Gas StationSaturna Island By BikeBreezy Bay FarmBreezy Bay Bed and BreakfastTwin Beds
MegBreezy Bay Living RoomBreezy Bay LibraryBreezy Bay Dining RoomBreezy Bay BreakfastPoke the Cow
Practice PokeWild TurkeysCarry a Big StickField BathtubGulf Islands National ParkDown By the Bay
Wild GoatsSea AnemoneKayakersSpottedSaturna WaterfallMe and the Waterfall Emily and the Waterfall Fern Gully Saturna Pub Dinner on the Docks Breezy Bay Glide Relaxing in Winter Cove Travelling By Bike Bikes on the Ferry Bike Lineup

Saturna Island 2011, a set on Flickr.