Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mumbai, India

So we have moved on to the new stage of the trip, landing late last night in Mumbai. Now the traffic of Mumbai (featuring, 20 million or so people, who allll like to HONK HONK their horn), makes Jln Tun Perak back in KL seem like a quiet back street of they are demolishing those streets to make a mall, so you know, same deal... kind of...

Anyway, it was pretty late by the time we arrived at I had a mean headache, so it was pretty well straight to bed. We got up pretty early but it took a while before we even got across the road. Not far off I saw someone jump onto a bus that was still moving quite quickly, and we went to McDonalds for breakfast (sorry to all travel gurus, however the main reason was we needed change, and also some directions as the people here didn't give us good directions at all, and they didn't have a map.

We got talking to a guy in the line and he gave us some really good advice, so we got one of these auto rickshaws, they just call them autos, these are mini little machines with suicidal maniacs driving them, looking for anyway to make a quick buck. One of the favourite ways is to rip off tourists, so it's always best to look at the rate card that they will have.

Onto the train, first class...more space on that section apparently. And we travelled along the way and you see blokes hanging out the carriage doors, getting some fresh air...although a city of 20 million is probably not going to have air that fresh....

The train took some time to get us into town, Mumbai CST we had been advised to go to (apparently not the one you would normally go to, but it got us where we needed to go). Our friend Viv recommended that we get in touch with her friend Andrea who has been living in India for about 4 years now. One of the elements of this trip is that neither of us has a phone, which hasn't really proven too big a deal (especially because so far we have had regular internet access), but can be a bit troublesome with meeting people.

We popped into an internet to print out a map from google, we were told there would be a tourist office at the CST, however, there was nothing there...there was a small box with something about tourist written on it, but it was closed anyway.

We had a walk around, went to the Gateway, avoided scams, didn't buy any junk and met up with Andrea and another girl from Australia, who I think her name was Salwa. She is doing some kind of internship here and has been here for just a few weeks. It was lunch time by the time we met and we ate at a delicious place, Khyber. It was a bit on the flash side I guess, I don't think we will be eating like that every day, however that was a great start. We got things that were very mild as we didn't want to blow our brains out with spice and spend the next few days on the toilet...not on the first day anyway. That will come later in the trip.

We went around the city to a couple of the main attractions, to of which were A+++. Haji Ali is a Muslim tomb/shrine (I linked to a wiki article) that you cross a causeway to get to. The waves were splashing up at us and we got pretty wet. We also stopped by a nearby Hindu temple, but there will be plenty more of that during the trip.

Next stop was Mani Bhavan, this is a museum dedicated to Gandhi, and it was very impressive. Lots of posters, photos, a library filled with books, and these little dioramas, all about the life of Gandhi. Some interesting letters that he wrote too....the link will take you to a letter he wrote to one Herr Hitler though apparently it never got delivered.

Our final stop in the tour was the Taj Mahal Hotel, which is overlooking the bay and very flash where apparently lots of top stars come and stay. Of course the rest of the trip won't be filled with flash hotels (there could be some), but it is an icon in itself.

Anyhow, it reminded me of something that my Nanna said (We had lunch with her in Sydney just before flying to the Gold Coast). She was talking about when Dad was in India, he was here in 1981, so that's 30 years ago and he had sent a postcard back home. It would have said something like.

Dear Mum and Dad

Everything is going well in India, we are in (somewhere, probably renamed since that time) at the moment. Last night we went to a 5 star hotel for a meal, it was only $2! However, you come back onto the street and you get the real picture of India.


So it would have been something like that. There wasn't too much of that picture immediately afterwards, but we got back on a train and a train gives you a great picture of India. Or a suburban train to some middle of nowhere place at 8pm on a Saturday night will probably give you a bit of an overview of any place in the world really.

Tomorrow it's time to move on. We don't have any ticket yet which could probably be a problem as we were having some troubles with using the Cleartrip site but I'm going to go to sleep now and hopefully will wake up and get ourselves a couple of tickets. The plan is to make our way north up until Nepal. I think that's the key to avoiding disappointment is to not have too much of a grand plan, then not too much can go wrong.... (one might hope)...

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Daniel is now living in Santiago de Chile. You can find some more writing at I Love Chile

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