If you’re looking for a quick answer on whether to travel from Goa to Mumbai by bus, my advice to you would be to take the train, let me explain why…
Having travelled around various parts of Goa we found that much of it was not open for business as the season hadn’t yet started, so the plan was to take the train back to Mumbai, buy a couple of things there and then use it as a good connection point to go somewhere else. Unfortunately there were train cancellations and no way to get on one for a week, at this point we decided to take the bus – what could go wrong?!
For 800 Indian Rupees we were told we’d get a luxury air conditioned coach with a bed each and regular toilet breaks on the 12 hour trip as there wasn’t one aboard. When we arrived on the coach we were confronted with a narrow aisle to walk down and twin bunk beds along either side, I walked in feeling very chlaustrophobic. There was a curtain across each pair of beds but it was made from 3 pieces of cloth that didn’t cover the full length, there was no individual control over the lights or air con (which was on full and freezing the hell out of everyone) and no bedding provided apart from the thin mattress. As the bus pulled away someone handed out sick bags, apparently this is normal so I grabbed a couple just in case. Rattling along at high speeds up steep winding roads it was impossible for me to lay down without feeling my internal organs shaking around like jelly so I was forced to sit half up (as much as was possible in the space) and failing miserably I tried to get some sleep.
You never know how much you want to use the toilet until someone says that you can’t. At the door I asked about toilet stops and was told ‘maybe two’ so, I worked out that potentially once every 4-6 hours I can take a pee if I’m lucky – great!. Two hours in I’d dozed off and we’d stopped, this was for the ‘open toilet’, I peeked out of the window expecting a building with some form of squat toilet but was confronted with people peeing (and otherwise) in the bushes by the road – thinking that this may well be the only toilet stop of the journey however, I got out and followed suit. Two more stops like this occurred in the next few hours, with people rushing off to throw up as well. It seems as though there is only one scheduled toilet stop (although you won’t be told as much, which is why I was told ‘maybe two’ and other such bull****), but rather than drawing you a mental picture of a building that could quite easily double as the torture wing in a prisoner of war camp, with a lack of (any)lighting or cleanliness and a stench that almost forced vomit up into my throat, I will instead recommend that you use the open toilet as it’s much nicer.
Finally, arriving at our stop we were actually slightly ahead of schedule, but leaving the coach I found that we’d been dropped at the side of a main road and at the mercy of a number of cash hungry cabbies.
The real truth of the matter is that there are no luxury busses in India, so take the train people!