The most trying day so far
Mumbai Travel Blog› entry 143 of 158 › view all entries
Somehow, considering that I went to bed at 10 I managed to sleep in until 11:30. My flight was not until 7pm though, so I spent the day mooching around the hostel and taking full advantage of the free internet! The plane was very large and very full but I got my own personal TV which was more than I was expecting. I had an indian vegetarian meal which gave me terrible stomach ache and resulted in a couple of trips to the bathroom - great - I haven't even landed in India yet and I already have Dehli belly!
In Mumbai, the airport looked like it hadn't been refurbished since the 1960s, and I was swatting away mozzies as I waited forever for my bag. The next part of my usual 'arriving in a new airport' regime was to find an ATM and get cash. One problem, there was only one ATM and it had no cash. Me and an American business guy went looking for another - there was a rumour that there was one upstairs, but there wasn't anything upstairs but piles of old chairs. Then someone said there was one back through customs at the opposite end of the airport. Off we headed, but the customs officials wouldn't let me back through (not surprising) and just kept pointing to the broken ATM saying 'use that one'. Getting increasingly desperate and frustrated I went to the bank counter to see if I could use my card to get cash there. Surprise, surprise - no. BY this point I was getting really frustrated by the fact that no-one seemed to give a toss that I had no way of getting any money, and before I knew it I burst into uncontrollable tears. I NEVER cry, so it was a bit of a shock. What was worse is that this really seemed to amuse the bloke at the bank, and his friend sitting next to him, and the customs officers who had turned me away before. Totally angery and upset I searched through my purse and managed to find 10 Singaporean dollars that I changed into 320 rupees - I needed 380 to get a taxi to my hotel. Further digging produced 160 Thai Baht that I changed to reach a total of 450 rupees - just enough to get me out of the airport. Just then the US businessman showed up again and on seeing my pathetic tear-stained face offered me some rupees. I said thanks but declined as I now had enough to get a taxi, but I will be forever grateful to him for the offer. If I had had no foreign currency to exchange he would have been my complete saviour.
By this time I had stopped crying as I realised I wasn't going to have to live the rest of my life in Mumbai airport, but I was in a pretty foul mood. I was assigned a taxi number and I headed off to find it. Once in, the thing wouldn't start despite 3 other taxi drivers trying to bump start us down the road. The very grumpy taxi driver ordered me out and told me I would have to walk back into the airport to be assigned a different number. Fine. I was getting used to this crap. Another problem - 2 blokes with machine guns sitting at the exit didn't want to let me back inside. After much waving of taxi receipts and frantic explaining through teary hiccups he let me in, I got a new number, walked back to my new taxi and we were off!
The ride was terrifying. The taxi had no seatbelts or door locks so I sat right in the middle of the back seat and positioned myself in such a way that I hoped my legs wouldn't snap in a collision. I was convinced we were going to die at least 4 seperate times on the hour long trip. One thing I noticed is that despite being almost midnight on a Sunday, there were hoards of people everywhere. At the hotel, I explained the money situation, and they let me check in without paying and even spotted me a bottle of water which was a relief. I was paying a fair bit for this hotel, so was expecting it to be fairly nice, but the lift was broken so I walked 4 flights of stairs to get to my room which closed with a padlock. Inside, the room was tatty with stained bedsheets and an overpowering stench. Great! Also the air-con unit I had paid extra for was not working and there was no loo paper in the bathroom. Everything in me just wanted to go home. I curled up on the stinky stained bed and tried to sleep through the intense heat, hoping beyond hope that Mumbai was going to look a little better in the morning.