2nd – 3rd July, Mumbai (Bombay)
My camera has managed to get a virus so I can’t put any of my own images on my blog posts – thanks to Jono for helping out with his camera!
Firstly a bit of general knowledge, Mumbai is the new spelling of Bombay, Bombay was the name under British rule. So why “Mumbai”? Well apparently in India you pronounce a ‘B’ as ‘Mm’ – so if you say ‘Bombay’ correctly as an Indian is pretty much sounds like Mumbai (the ‘bai’ part of the word is pronounced quite softly so actually sounds like ‘mai’) – see my blog is even educational!
We only had one night planned in Mumbai as we’d heard it was quite pricey and we tend to enjoy the small towns/cities more than the major cities (well Bangalore was an exception). After arriving around midday we were met off the by a persistent auto-rickshaw driver who tried to tell us to stay in a place called ‘Andheri’ which according to him was the tourist place (Lonely Planet suggested otherwise) so we told him where we wanted to go and bargained down a price for the trip from 700 rupee to 400 rupee – all was well…or so we thought! After 10 minutes he pulls over and tells us that we need to change to a taxi because rickshaws weren’t allowed in down town Mumbai; he then announces he’ll drop us at the train station and we can take a train in…then after Jono says something about pick pockets he says we can get a ride in his uncles taxi (but we’ll have to pay more for luggage), then apparently the traffic is dreadful and it will take 3 hours to get in…we were getting the major run-around so flagged down and older Indian guy in a taxi he said he could take us into town using the meter. After a quick call to Maria (our friend from bangalore) we got the approximate rates for the journey so were feeling confident. We told our mate to politely p*ss off and offered him a small amount for the 10 minute journey he driven us, which he ripped up and threw on the ground in a huff. We had quite a laugh about it! In the end we made it safely to downtown Mumbai!
We checked into a hotel in the suburb of Fort and spent the afternoon walking around downtown Mumbai. The architecture of the building was very British, some awesome buildings – the railway station was housed in a huge old stone building quite a contrasting site for India! We sat down in a Muslim restaurant and ordered up a vegetarian Thali (a meal that come with 3 small curries, rice, bread), it was great value at $1.75 and was gold. We struggled to find a place to watch the football – a 500 rupee cover charge was required at the only place we found so in the end decided to watch it in the reception of our hotel with a couple of the workers and guests sipping on Chai.
Our day of departure was filled with admin duties – writing postcards, buying padlocks, getting haircuts and in between squeezing a couple of latte’s down. The funniest part of Mumbai, was our departure – pretty much the purpose of this blog post as we didn’t get up to too much else….
It is monsoon time in Mumbai, so torrential downpours and flooding are the norm. We had a 9pm train to catch to Jaipur; we left our dinner restaurant around 6:30pm – the days rain had eased off and we had a good 10 minute walk to the train station so thought we’d get moving. After picking up our bags from the hotel, we walked out the door and into the start of a new torrential downpour!! With our 25kg packs, we ran (not that quickly) in between buildings, people, beggars, taxi’s across roads covered 5cm deep in water; eventually arriving at the station absolutely drenched – clothes, jackets, packs and day packs – but laughing about the whole thing. Next move was to get a local train to Bandra (suburb) to meet our onward national train to Jaipur. We bought 2nd class tickets on the local train and jumped aboard, it was packed. As we made our way to Bandra the train became more packed – guys were running from a platform and launching themselves at the open doors smashing into people and trying to cram on, it was a little intense! We made it ‘safely’ to Bandra and squeezed our way off, only to find that Bandra local terminus and Bandra national terminus were different buildings…of course. So, while the rain was still flowing freely from the sky, we left the local terminus and got into an auto rickshaw to the national terminus, stepping out into a huge puddle upon arrival. In the end we made it onto the right platform and onto the right train – absolutely drenched, but still in good spirits knowing that we wouldn’t forget this train journey in quite some time – not knowing that the journey which was scheduled to take 21 hours was about to take 26 hours…
An Indian man summed it up well for us as we got off the local train at Bandra, “So welcome to the trains in India – quite an experience huh?”
Jaipur lay ahead and we were looking forward to it!