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Beginnings of a great adventure

Anjuna Travel Blog

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A not-so-typical, typical Goa sunset

My approach was all wrong.  I arrived here thinking India would be like Egypt/Turkey, assuming I would need to be aggressive so I would not get screwed over.  I arrived in Mumbai and spotted a fella with a Texas shirt on, so I approached him about sharing a cab to Colaba (the usual traveler destination in the city).   His accent quickly told me he wasn't American.  He had already booked a hotel and arranged transport there.  Me, none of the above.  So we approached the tourist info booth at the airport, and I asked the guy working if he could find me a cheap hotel in Colaba.  He joked that if he couldn't I could stay with him.  He found me a place and told me what a taxi would cost, so off we went after watching a Californian slip him a 100 for some sort of liquor license he needed.

This is a train station!

Outside Eoin found his transport and asked if I could get a ride as well.  They said sure, no problem, but I demanded how much and he said we could figure it out when we got there.  I said absolutely not, that we had to agree on a price before we left and I would not pay more than 325 rupees.  He looked at me like I was a mad woman and asked me why I was so insistent, that I was in India and "we never say no."  I quickly realized I needed to change my attitude, that India was going to be nothing like any place I have been.

The taxi fellas were very helpful, setting out on foot at one point while I waited in the car, looking for my hotel, which as it turns out was right on the harbor.  I got a room with a view of it and then took a nap until Eoin called.

Lunch-delivering wallahs - it is amazing but they never screw up delivering them
He was meeting up with some friends he met at the visa office back home. I asked at the front desk if it was OK for me to walk around at night by myself.  Of course, they said.  India is not known for its crime. There are millions of people here, but I feel very safe here.  I met everyone at Leopold's on the causeway, including Helen, Ollie and Phil, all friends from England traveling RTW for 6 mos.  We had some 8 percent beers and then I hit the hay about closing time.  The next day Eoin showed up at my hotel claiming to be my husband so they wouldn't kick up a fuss about us sharing a room (I had a double).  Then we set off for the train station hoping to get tix to Goa the next morning and meet up with Helen and crew.  The station itself is a marvel of architecture.
A little ear cleaning while you admire the beach?
  Our guide for the day would say the British built it at a time they didn't know they would be leaving, ending with a laugh.

Speaking of which, after securing tickets on the 7 a.m. train, we ran into a taxi driver outside who talked us into a personal whirlwind day tour of Mumbai for 20 bucks.  I thought we could have haggled more on the price, but it seemed like a good idea and way to see the city.  So off we went, starting out by checking out the lunch-wallachs with all the lunch sacks prepared and ready for delivery for the men at work.  I had seen this on tv and was so excited when I got to see it in person, along with the ear cleaners.  He pointed out a guy in a red turban who was perched on a wall next to another guy, digging around in his ear.

Our friend Amish at the temple
  Fascinating.

We hit up a temple, the hanging gardens (called so because there are water tanks underground), and checked out more architecture, including the Gateway to India and the High Court.  While at the gardens a family was staring at me with excitement and one of them finally approached, asking if they could take a picture with me.  I had heard about this, so I quickly agreed.  I was just as fascinated by them in their beautiful saris.  I do get the stares here. 

We then hit up a house Mahatma Gandhi lived in while in Mumbai, now a museum.  Inside was a letter he wrote to Hitler.  Very short and to the point.  We also passed by the Tower of Silence where the Parsees leave their loved ones who have passed away.

Details inside the temple
  They do not bury them, but leave them to rot and be eaten by vultures, but over the years, the birds have not been aplenty so they've had to use other means.  You will be put in jail if you try to break in there.  All we saw was a wall, thankfully.

I haven't gone into detail about the city.  I don't know where to start and could not do justice in trying to get across what this place is like.  Pick up Shantaram by Gregory Roberts.  Everyone is reading it.  It's a huge, 800 some page book about his escape from an Aussie prison and landing in Mumbai, and living in its underbelly for 8 years.  I just started it (bought it off a young lad while stopped at a traffic light).  Check out the first chapter and you'll get a sense of what it is like to enter India through the Mumbai portal.

Making our lunch - I asked for spicy!

After what amounted to about 8 hours of sight seeing, Eoin and I grabbed a cheap dinner (about 5 bucks for us both to eat some really good food!) and then we went to bed anticipating an early rise for the train.

At the station we met Paul, also from the UK.  We were all in the same car but we quickly found out the train was running 4 hours late!  So we grabbed breakfast to kill time before the 12 hour journey south to Goa.  Once arriving, we were met by Helen and Co. They had secured us accommodation, with me having a single for a mere 150 rupees ($3.50) a night with a few steps out to the beach.  We spent our first day on the beach chilling. Now I originally planned to head north from Mumbai, thinking I've had enough of beaches (yes, shocking isn't it, but I actually miss winter).

Laundry central - this place was huge. All the hotel laundry is done here.
  However, the group I met were loads of fun and I realized I had plenty of time to divert southward. So I found myself on the beach yet again, and very much enjoying it.  I ended up buying a few things as beautiful women come by to sell jewelry, sarongs and just about anything else you could want and not need.

Day two we rented scooters.  I've never been on a scooter, nor operated one myself.  We paired up. Originally Paul was my passenger.  I thought him insane since I basically did a quick one minute ride to figure out the controls and then he jumped on.  I found having a passenger a bit unnerving, especially given the number of obstacles one encounters, including cows, autorickshaws, other scooters, bikes, cars and loads of people.

Laundry hanging to dry
  I opted to go solo after a while and I was in heaven, scootering around Goa past some beautiful scenery, at least it was in the few stolen moments when I would allow myself to take my eyes off the road.  I only almost crashed a few times during the day.  We rode to another beach and hung there for the afternoon, returning before dark to catch another perfect sunset.  I have never seen a more picturesque one as here.  Everyone just sits in silence, watching the colors change and the palm trees blow.  Today will be much of the same as we have them for two days.  India also celebrates its Independence Day on the 26th, which was yesterday but apparently the party is tonight.  The plan is to hang here til Monday or Tuesday and then off to Hampi.
Dharavi shanty town, 55% of Mumbai's population lives in slums/shanty towns. This place is huge, a city within a city.

Before I arrived I thought I would stay for a month, but now that I am here, and I have a visa until March 15th, I will likely stay here until then, giving me about seven weeks here total.  Not enough time in my mind, but I am glad I have at least that as India is a truly masterpiece of color, intrigue, chaos and flavor, deserving all the time I have to take it all in.

 

alexusa says:
Well written, i can't wait to see Goa, here i came Goa, Oh mama mia :)
Posted on: Nov 29, 2008
nicoleah says:
I think you were right on to be demanding cost up front- especially if you go to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, or Varanasi where they are very used to tourists you need to do that with all the drivers. And even then they usually want more once you arrive! Glad to hear you're loving India.
Posted on: Feb 05, 2008
kre0123 says:
wow, that is so amazing! i can't wait to see india! i love reading your blogs, they always keep me motivated to keep saving! can't wait to read the next!
Posted on: Jan 31, 2008
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A not-so-typical, typical Goa suns…
A not-so-typical, typical Goa sun…
This is a train station!
This is a train station!
Lunch-delivering wallahs - it is a…
Lunch-delivering wallahs - it is …
A little ear cleaning while you ad…
A little ear cleaning while you a…
Our friend Amish at the temple
Our friend Amish at the temple
Details inside the temple
Details inside the temple
Making our lunch - I asked for spi…
Making our lunch - I asked for sp…
Laundry central - this place was h…
Laundry central - this place was …
Laundry hanging to dry
Laundry hanging to dry
Dharavi shanty town, 55% of Mumbai…
Dharavi shanty town, 55% of Mumba…
Trying on a shawl too rich for my …
Trying on a shawl too rich for my…
Eoin in traditional wedding attire
Eoin in traditional wedding attire
Friendly faces on the beach - I ju…
Friendly faces on the beach - I j…
The cattle enjoying a nice beach s…
The cattle enjoying a nice beach …
The cattle like the beach too.  Th…
The cattle like the beach too. T…
Getting the Om on my hand from a v…
Getting the Om on my hand from a …
A nearby beach we scootered over t…
A nearby beach we scootered over …
Our crew - we keep picking up peop…
Our crew - we keep picking up peo…
Phil once again serving as our ent…
Phil once again serving as our en…
Anjuna
photo by: msarkar2810