Days 1-3, Mumbai, India 2008

Mumbai Travel Blog

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Heathrow Terminal 5-Mumbai-Chembur-Mumbai-getting lost-babies-rickshaws-jumping on trains

So guys, here's the story so far. Once upon a time there were two midgets (lindsay and CJ) who were very disorganised and didn't get their visas for india sorted in time for their first flight (16th september) and so had to go a week later (23rd september 2008) While in terminal 5 we were told no photos (we got some-hahahaha-obviously not up on security!) plus i had to get my medication out so they could inspect it-the woman gasped as i piled out months worth of inhalers and tablets-yeah, that'll teach you to be clever, mrs. woman!!! We clambered onto a tube after dumping our luggage on a cart and sped off underground to Gate B where we were due to board. At Gate B we were told we couldn't sit together on the plane-booooooooooooooooooo!! While i was sandwiched between a young indian girl and an indian businessman-lindsay had the westerner section with the old men who snore-think i had the best area!!

After finally sorting out my stuff and dumping it in a free overhead locker, i parked my bum down in my seat and clipped myself in ready for take off when all of a sudden there was an almighty bang and i turned to see a laptop and bottle of alcohol with 6 bars of chocolate fall from the overhead locker-my immediate thought was bugger, they've broken up the chocolate (hehe) but then nurse cj took over and checked the guy and got him some ice. In the process of the avalanche-the guy to my left had been battered by the debris!! he was incoherent and his vision was blurry so i alerted the crew like a good citizen and he was then taken off the plane and given medical attention at heathrow airport, which meant we were delayed while they found his luggage!!! but on the plus side.. i had a spare seat so the lindmeister and i were not light years away from each other on the plane!!! the plane journey was rough-loads of turbulence, oh and when it gets to like 12 the whole crew just give up, you sit in darkness without light, food or drink until about 8am (local time) Then we arrived in Mumbai about 11am local time-woohoo!!!

We ran to get our bags and waited ages leading us to think that terminal 5 had disposed of them-just for the funnies but alas, in trundled my bag looking dirtier than usual and after lindsay's made a heady return we bolted towards the prepaid taxi desk before jumping into a rickety old taxi, the guy spied my bag and motioned to the roof-tried to tell him that i'd rather go on the roof than my bag, he kind of understood as he then proceeded to place it neatly in the front seat and cuddled it all the way. The taxi ride to Chembur was filled with furious hooting, loads of polution and the air conditioned cab, well.... it had it's windows opened! no air conditioning-grrreat!! Finally got to Chembur-one word... RURAL!!! We drove past slums, dumps, rubbish tips and it didn't fill us with joy-funnily enough!! We arrived at our hotel, he kept our passports while he threw us into a lift to the second floor where our room was. The room is beautiful, if you squint. Every twin bed is apparently a double, air conditioning is a fan and it looks like someone was shot in our bathroom with blood splatters all over the wall-oooooh... sleeping with one eye open tonight! On the first day we hitch a ride with a rickshaw to the swasticka chambers where we can apparently change money-they lied. So we wander around a bit and find our saviour in the form of thomas cook. Trying to get to a supermarket from there was like getting blood from a stone-we asked for supermarket-people looked at us blankly. Food?? still people look at us like we're nutters. Thne came the drama student actions-nope, even this didn't work so we trundled along the road until we found a hidden away store where we bought noodles and drink. I was pretty sure that the flask in our room was just that but lindsay remained adamant that it was a kettle. It was a flask and so for the first night in Chembur-we just ate out of date tomato flavoured crisps. Mmmmmmmmmm... yummy but shortly after, we passed out and went to sleep!

Thursday 25th, we woke up at 12pm which is pretty late really. Somehow we mustered the energy to get up and blag a rickshaw to the train station (not knowing that it was like a 10 minute walk) In india, you have to remember that the trains don't stop.. you just have to launch yourself on while it's moving so while holding hands we threw ourselves at the train's mercy and successfully got on, unbeknown to us that we were in fact stood on the men's coach and NOT the ladies.. but the guys didn't tell us, they just stared at us like we were fresh meat while we clung to the sides and each other. The trains also do not have their doors shut so you are always one step away from falling off the edge but we snuggled in the middle until we got to Mumbai CSTM, one of the main train station. We were then whisked away by taxi to the Gateway of India which would've been good if it hadn't have been covered in scaffolding but you could always buy a postcard, i guess! The taj mahal hotel was at least impressive though. From the Gateway of India we caught a boat to the Elephanta Caves on the island of Elephanta, funnily enough. The boat journey seemed like hours and it didn't help that I had a German woman sat on my knee part way with her third ass obviously been developed over many years of eating bratwurst and had armpits that would put a gorilla to shame!! When we got to the island a little train chugged over to us but in fact it was quicker to walk so we braved the midday sun and plodded onward to a wee desk situated in the middle where tourists get charged tax to be on the island but it was only about 5 rupees! Then came the millions of steps through stalls and restaurants, they never seemed to end but after a brisk 10 minute hike, we made it!!

The caves of Elephanta were virtually ruins and nothing wildly exciting (the guidebooks lie) and they charge 10 rupees for a indian and 250 for a westerner-talk about daylight robbery!!! The caves took about 30 minutes to do and most of that was walking inbetween. We met some Russian tourists who kept making model like poses next to the statues and would have 5 pictures taken next to each-everyone was laughing at them, probably cos they looked like muppets!!

We proceeded on walking til we got to a dead end, an indian guy told us it was quicker if we walked up cannon hill to get back to the bay so we followed 3 american dudes up this ruddy great big hill (in the words of my dad!) but all we could find were canons, literally!! We were officially lost. Maybe this was the thing they do to Westerners to keep them on their island and make them spend!! Eventually we found a possible road (a bit of gravel and wood) leading downhill and so we followed and sure enough we were at the beginning of the trail and marched back down the steps to the boat which we had to run for and grab a space on-they just had plastic seats so we plonked them where there was a spot and crashed out in the sun when i realised there was some child taking photos of us asleep. i quickly woke up and covered my face and moved lindsay to stop the little git! When we got back we ended up in delhi darbour-it was interesting!! the curries had so many bones in them we could've cleaned our teeth with them-yak!!! that put me off so from now on i'm a veggie unless it's boneless and not a dog on my plate!!! you couldn't even pick around the meat-it was sick!!! after that we endured a train journey back to chembur but missed our actual stop and so had to get the one after and launch ourselves off and on packed like sardines in the ladies carriage!!

When we finally got back... no thanks to the afghan man who tried to be helpful in mumbai but walked us to the wrong station (churchgate) and the trains not saying what stop they are and the stupid man who wanted us to pay him for his trouble in directing us back to the hotel-we literally just crashed and burned. Friday 26th was a lazy day-we didn't actually get up til late and then we spent ages trying to work out how to get to places beofre jumping on a train to mumbai cstm again (without a ticket-oopsy) but there was no way they were going to check as you couldn't move!! We went to 3 or 4 ticket desks before finding the right one to book our ticket at but then they demanded receipts for the money we had exchanged and passports-i had all my documents but lindsay didn't so we were gutted and embarked on another stuffy train journey back to chembur when about 3 men dressed in women's clothing clambered onto the train and blessed us. That beats the ladyboys in thailand, eh gaz!? cockroaches were running riot on the carriage so the feet came off the floor as not to be bitten and all along the tracks we could see kids playing on railway lines, flying kites, running across the tracks and general slummage and rats. I even saw a woman cough on her nuts then serve them to other passengers and they wonder why they get sick!?

Finally got back to Chembur-bolted to get Lindsay's documents then back to the train station with kids grabbing at us begging for money.. you do feel mean but then wherever you go they harass you and it gets tiring. Sat down on the way back and ran to book our ticket to delhi-finally... we did something right today!!! Then came restaurant hunting, they have like one every kilometre and they're generally the bad one's but a kindly man stood by a taxi showed us the way to a very westernised restaurant-they had yorkshire chicken on the menu or yorkshire beef etc-made me laugh. Do we have yorkshire chicken!? BUT there was nothing indian on the menu so while lindsay opted for italian-i did the chinese thing and the food was immense!!! even the desserts were gorgeous but we had no room and so opted for coffee instead. After the meal came a long tiresome walk back to train station but lindsay, bless her heart, is bad at directions and tried to walk us down a dead end-sometimes i can be on the ball and we finally got back before piling onto a train like a herd of elephants.. pity it was the one going to Bhangra and not Chembur so we had to jet back to Vadala Road and change for Chembur while being thrown about on the train by impatient women-mmmm... fun times!!!

Now we're back at the hotel-hallelujah!!! Tomorrow we embark on a 19 hour, 3rd class "air conditioned" train journey to new delhi so you may not hear from me for 2 days but love and hugs and i will speak to you all soon xxxxx
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