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Melting in Mumbai

It's a very hot pot!

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Our arrival in Mumbai, despite the fact that it was at 4am, was an immediate introduction to the heat which has been with us ever since. It turned out that our destination station was not really in the centre of Mumbai and therefore we had a bit of a way to go to find ourselves a hotel, something which attracted the vultures (taxi drivers). We did fall prey to one, due to being a bit railroaded, but once he decided to tell us how much he was going to charge us for the pleasure we made him take us straight back. After a bit more chit chat at the station we chose one guy to take us in, for half the price and he just seemed a little nicer. He took us to a couple of hotels in central Mumbai, which he said would be cheaper than than the usual tourist hotspot of Colaba and I think location wise it was a better option. None of the hotels really appealed so we opted to go off on our own and ended up at Hotel Swampni, which despite looking pretty run down from the outside was surprisingly clean inside and the room seemed fairly recently renovated.

After a quick refresh we headed out to explore Mumbai and book our train ticket to Goa. We had heard there was a sleeper train that left around 11pm and so decided we would aim to get the one leaving the next night, which would give us pretty much two full days in the city. We found Central Mumbai Station and a McDonalds! I'm afraid to say we gave in to curiosity about whether it would taste the same and also a need for something familiar I suppose. I indulged in a McChicken Sandwich and Adam tried the McChicken Maharaja Meal, obviously there were no beef products on the menu.

Once we were full of Indian fast food we went to try and get a train to Colaba, where the Gateway to India is and also the famous Taj Mahal Hotel.
I did also try to enquire where we could book our ticket to Goa but had no success with the busy man and the mounting queue. So instead we put that on the backburner and took the local train to Churchgate Street and then after a little bit of a walk we saw the sea for the first time on our trip. From the road which runs along the coast you get a good sense of Mumbai as a city, it certainly is the most modern city we have been to in India.
It just has a more metropolitan feel, the roads are wider and the architecture is more sophisticated. It is also a massive city with a population of 25 million and there seem to be enough taxi cabs to ferry them around, when we first arrived in the early morning they lined the streets, in some places three deep waiting to start their day.

We took a cab to the Gateway to India which is right next to the Taj Hotel.
There are still a few areas which are boarded up after the terrorist attacks last year. Although generally it looks fairly unscathed. While wandering around the area Adam decided to buy a book of postcards from a street seller after his fairly impressive pitch and then we used them to negotiate a little round trip with a cab driver to see the main sights of Mumbai. These included a big shoe in a park, we didn't really figure out its significance but it did offer up a good view over Mumbai, then a floating temple in the sea which unfortunately up close was really very run down and so we decided to just view it from the outside, and then lastly a communal, outside, laundry area where we were told 6000 people would be washing clothes, there weren't that many when we arrived but it was still interesting to see.

The next hour or so was spent trying to book our ticket to Goa, which after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing we managed to do and so our train was set to leave the next day at 23:05 from Mumbai CST. Satisfied with that we headed back to our hotel and after a rest grabbed some dinner and then wandered around the street markets for a while. We discovered a fruit market in an old building where we bought some oranges and apples, it was quite amazing how you could just wander off the main drag and find these bustling little streets which seem to be endless, full of people selling clothes, shoes, electronics, and food. It's like another little world.

With our train not going until very late we moved rooms the next morning to a smaller, cheaper one just to give us a base for the day. The rest of the day we just mooched around central Mumbai and came across our first mall, we attempted to do a bit of clothes shopping but were generally unsuccessful, although Adam did buy some socks.

A little while before we were about to go to the station Adam started to feel unwell, and so the thought of a 12 hour train ride in a non a/c compartment was not really the most pleasant of thoughts. Still we got ourselves to the station, but then we couldn't find our train on the board so we went to ask and were informed that we were in fact at the wrong station and apparently CST does not stand for Central Station. I actually can't tell you what it does stand for because I only saw the sign briefly as I dashed in to the correct station and scanned the boards for our train which was leaving in 5 minutes. Of course the platform was the furthest away and we were right down the end of the longest train we've been on, but we made it and found our seats which were with an American mother and daughter and a Swedish couple.

I have to say that I slept fairly well despite the noise and bumpy ride, unfortunately the same cannot be said for Adam who had a sleepless night as his illness really took hold.

Thankfully the beach was not too far away...

Posted by LauHot10 07:11 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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