Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mumbai take two

We arrived in Mumbai at around 7:45am after we departed from Margao at 8:15pm. We were dropped off somewhere in Mumbai and had pre-booked a place to stay called 'Travellers Inn' located in the Fort area. As we had no idea how far away Fort was i tried asking around to ensure we didn't get ripped off by a cab/rickshaw, but no one could understand me.

We then started getting hassled by one cab driver who was quoting us 900Rs. We both refused, knowing this was far too much money and carried on asking around but again the language barrier became a problem, and we were still getting pestered by the cab driver who had since dropped his price to 500Rs.

A passerby then stopped and asked us where we were going and how much the persistant cab driver was quoting us. We told him 500Rs from here to Fort and then some harsh words were exchanged between the cabbie and the passer-by. The argument got more and more heated and i was in the middle of these two guys shouting at each other. I looked at Ian in shock at what was happening and we both agreed to look elsewhere, by now a small crowd had gathered around the two men arguing.

We found an alternative cabbie who agreed a price of 350Rs, when i looked back at the two guys still arguing i saw that punches were now being exchanged! Although it was very nice of the passer-by to warn us that we were being ripped off by the cabbie, i still couldn't quite believe that it had turned into a fight.

We arrived at 'Travellers Inn' where we paid 1700Rs for a room with AC and hot water. The reception area was very clean and well run, with our room being cosy but clean and pleasant. We tried booking here during our first stay in Mumbai but it was fully booked.

I wanted to explore Mumbai as we only had one day left in India but i had come down with a case of the notorious 'Delhi belly' (travellers diarrhoea) and wasn't sure if i would be able to. In the end i decided to just go for it and see how i felt once i was out and about.

Our first stop was the 'High Court' where i read that you could gain access to and watch cases being heard. On our way there we both realised it was Sunday and therefore it would be closed, still we carried on, just to have a look around anyway.

The next stop was the 'Taj Mahal Palace & Tower' and the 'Gateway to India', where we paid a cab driver 50Rs to drive us there, as it was a bit of a walk. The outside of the Taj Mahal Palace was quite spectacular, although difficult to photograph properly. Inside was immaculate and very upper class, we both felt quite out of place in our scruffy clothes. There wasn't an awful lot to see here and food and drinks were extortionate, so we enjoyed 10 more minutes of the air con and headed back out into the city heat, where we viewed the 'Gateway to India' directly opposite.

Taj Mahal Palace

Haggle with the cab/rickshaw drivers, walk away if you have to. We must have spent roughly 300Rs for various cab trips around the city, which we felt was a reasonable price.

After walking around and exploring a little of the city by ourselves, we asked a cabbie to take us to 'Zaveri Bazaar' and paid 70Rs. It was very busy here with many locals, full of various stalls and markets selling random objects or fruit and veg. We endured a few stares from people and a couple of beggars, but one nice guy approached us and asked us where we were from and if we liked India and another kind man let me use his toilet.

Carry toilet roll, especially when ill!

These boys insisted on being in the photo with Ian

Around Mumbai

We paid 80Rs for a lift back to our room, as i was feeling unwell. After a power nap and some will power, i dragged Ian to 'Chowpatty Beach' to watch the sunset. As we had difficulties getting a cab we missed sunset but it was worth going to see the pretty colours in the sky and the bright lights around the city as the night drew in. The beach itself is not really a great beach, you definitely can not go swimming in the sea here as it is toxic from all the pollution, although i did see a few locals enjoying themselves in it!

Chowpatty Beach

After some food we relaxed in our room until our 11pm taxi to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. We paid 500Rs for the 1hr journey there and booked the taxi through the hotel. Last time we paid 700Rs which we now realised was slightly too much.

My opinion of Mumbai is that it is a very fascinating city that i think everyone should visit, at least once in their lifetime, just to experience a completely new world, out of your usual comfort zone.
Mumbai can be quite a sad place, with thousands of homeless people, children sleeping on the street with their families and many others living in sqwalar. Most of the city is very run down and dirty but every unique building tells a different story and keeps you asking questions.

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