This is a review of the sleeper bus and service provided by Paulo Travels on my recent trip from Hyderabad to Panjim, Goa and back. The pictures were shot from my phone.
Hyderabad to Panjim, Goa
I decided to board the bus at Miyapur so I could directly get on the bus. If I were to start from my place, I would have been taken to the bus in a very small and cramped mini bus, and I wanted to avoid that. For those who are not aware, private buses are not allowed within the city limits in Hyderabad before 10 PM. So, the passengers are ferried to the bus in small mini vans/buses from various locations in the city.
I reached Allwyn Junction, Miyapur just before 7:30 PM. The bus was scheduled to depart from Miyapur at 7:30 PM but arrived only at 8 PM and left at around 8:30 PM.
First impressions of the bus and the berth seemed to be okay. Nothing extraordinary but just comfortable. There’s a luggage rack over my feet where I put my camera bag. Happy about it as I didn’t want to put the camera bag in the boot. The curtains and berth were very dirty though. It looked like they haven’t been washed in years!
There’s also a little gap next to the luggage rack where I squeezed my laptop bag. Two problems solved! So far, so good. The berth itself seemed to be comfortable for sitting up and stretching my feet. I tried to lie down and sleep as I would normally and it can just about accommodate me. I’m 6’2″ tall so that’s a very good length.
There are a couple of curtains you can draw for privacy, which is nice, but they keep parting whenever someone walks past. This is due to the aisle being too narrow. I was in the single berth. The double berth looks more comfortable and more like a bed. Guess it’s good if you are traveling with a friend or family.
There’s a two-pin power socket but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure if they need to turn them on at the front. I was too tired to bother asking. There was also a reading light overhead, which also, not surprisingly, didn’t work. Not that I expected it to!
I had downloaded a bunch of courses from Udemy to my iPad for offline viewing during the trip but frustratingly none of them were playing! I still need to look up on why that happened.
By 9 PM I was feeling very drowsy. I had been up since 5:30 AM and the effects were beginning to show. I wanted to sleep, but I was hungry too! So I decided to stay awake till the time they stopped for dinner!
We stopped for dinner at The Mahindra Paradise, Hugelli, Zaheerabad at 10 PM. We were told the bus would leave at 10:30 PM and were requested to be back on time. The place looked okay but I didn’t feel like eating. So I had a cup of tea at the tea stall outside. It costed 15 rupees which was a little expensive for that place. We started again at 10:45 PM, after being held up for 15 minutes by 2 couples who clearly didn’t have a sense of time.
While getting back inside, I informed the driver that the power socket at my berth wasn’t working, and he just said ‘yes’! Just, yes. He didn’t give an explanation, no apology, nothing. He just said ‘yes’!
It was a little too cold for my liking and the blanket they provided didn’t do much to keep me warm. If you are like me and you don’t like the cold, I suggest you get your own blanket. You can shut 4 of the AC vents over your berth, but there is another bigger one which you cannot shut. The berth looked comfortable while sitting up but felt a bit narrow while sleeping.
I went to sleep at around 11:30 PM and woke up just before 6:30 AM to some lovely colors in the sky! It was a beautiful sunrise and for once, I didn’t jump for my camera. I just sat back and took in the view!
By 7AM we reached Belgaum and I heard someone mention that Panjim is at least 2 hours away. We stopped for a toilet/coffee/tea break in Belgaum at 7:15 AM and started again at 7:50 AM. Apparently Panjim is another 3 hours away!
After what seemed like eternity, we finally reached Panjim at 12:15 PM. Half my day was already gone! The scheduled arrival at Panjim was 8:45 AM, so we were just under 4 hours late! Well done, Paulo!
Panjim, Goa to Hyderabad
The scheduled departure from Panjim was 5:30 PM and we started on time. But the bus was different to the one I travelled on from Hyderabad to Panjim. This one had a few seats in the front as well, which the earlier one didn’t. The bus was in a terrible state, very dirty, the power sockets didn’t work, and the berth was a little narrower than the earlier one.
On this bus, I was allowed to store only one piece of baggage in the boot. I was told I can keep the rest inside, so I expected some space for this under the berth. When I got into the bus, to my surprise, there was no way I could get anything under the berth. It was completely sealed off, while the earlier bus had some space so I put my tripod and shoes under the berth. This one had only a little tray where I could keep my shoes. The rest of the stuff stayed on the berth! Yes, it was a nightmare trying to get some sleep or even sit comfortably.
We stopped for dinner at 11 PM in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to eat something but one look at where we stopped was enough to make me change my mind. If I remember well, only 3 people from the entire bus actually dared to step inside the place and eat something! Everybody were complaining about this but the staff did not even bother to give an explanation! We started again at 11:30 PM.
While boarding the bus we were informed that we will be moved into a different bus somewhere along the way. This happened at about 3 AM! We were woken up and asked to pick up our luggage and move to another bus which was waiting for us. Luckily, this one was similar to the one I came on from Hyderabad to Panjim, so there was a little more space and also I could put my luggage away without it taking up the entire berth.
We set off again and stopped at Zaheerabad at about 7 AM for coffee. Hyderabad is at least 2 hours away from here and the scheduled arrival was 8:30 AM! Started again at 7:30 AM and finally reached BHEL at about 9:10 AM. I wasn’t happy to find out that the bus was heading straight to Gachibowli from BHEL. So I got off at BHEL and went home in an auto rickshaw.
Overall, the experience was very bad! I think the only saving grace was that it was a sleeper and not a semi-sleeper! I cannot even begin to imagine how bad that would have been – sitting for more than 15 hours! Both the buses were very dirty (actually 3). The staff clearly cared about nothing. Maybe they had so much business!! They were not one bit polite to anyone and spoke with an air of arrogance.
It wasn’t that they were charging less than the other operators. The fare was the same as with the others. If I ever have to travel to Goa and Paulo Travels is the only option I have, I’d rather cancel my trip but I will not travel with them again!
I would definitely recommend staying away from Paulo Travels!
Prithvi is an experienced cyber security professional with global experience across 3 continents. He has proven skills and experience on Cisco, Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper and other vendors' products and technologies. He also has a passion for nature and landscape photography and can be seen lugging his camera gear in and around some pretty locations.
A few of the industry credentials he currently holds include CISSP, CISM, CISA, CCNP R&S, CCNA Security, CCNA.