London to Mumbai and beyond

Where to start? I left the UK at 9.30pm on Monday and arrived in Mumbai, India 9 hours later.  We went through the usual business of baggage etc and then onto get some money.  I traded 210 sterling for 17000 Rupees! To put that in perspective. 1000 rupees is enough for you to live very well everyday.

 

 

  We left the airport to grab our cab, which we prepaid as to avoid being ripped off; after bumbling our way through PR and fake cab drivers attempting to steal the fare we found our modern AC equipped cab and our friendly driver…  everything was fine until he started driving.  We thought we where going to die so many times you would not believe; incessant beeping and aggressive over-taking are the norm.  We spent over an hour in heavy Mumbai traffic almost having a simultaneous heart attack.

 

 

 

 

  Mumbai is a very contrasting place, you can have slum after slum followed by “modern” concrete and glass structures.  The distribution of wealth is obviously very off.

 

  We finally arrived at our hotel (Bentley’s) to find it was full! Oh no! well luckily Mike and Lorene are both seasoned travellers  who knew what to do: after checking the rough guide out we started to wonder around with our massive travel packs burdening us and marking us as targets for PR to strike; we went from hotel to hotel, finding them either to full; to expensive, or to flea ridden.  This took a while, as all the while many a beggar / PR (not a play on words) hassled us.  The PR generally leave you alone if you ignore them, but the hungry ones (literally hungry) will follow you around hoping to make commission.  I stopped for only one PR as I am a sucker for religious guys and did it as instinct; as he proceeded to bless me, he grabbed my hand and attempted to tie a band to me, no doubt for money; as this was occurring my three travelling companions where getting further and further away, leaving me alone in a crazy city, so I had to be rude to this man a physically insist on my liberty.

 

  Anyway,  we decided that Mumbai was not the place we wanted to be.  We proceeded to the train station via a scary rickshaw put-put, who’s erratic driving seemed to start making sense to us, only to find no tickets for Goa where available! We had a long shot of getting cancellation tickets if we paid over the odds, which we did after which we preceded back into Mumbai proper to waste a few hours in the famous Leopold’s restaurant.   I had probably the best curry of my life here and all for a couple of pounds, but for some reason they don’t serve pakorra anywhere I can find here.

 

 Sitting at Leopold’s, all of us falling asleep, we started to order the black coffees in; I had a quad-instant black coffee, which seemed only to make my eyes hurt.  My self and Lorene where both suffering from the Mumbai air, it is really bad;  I was wheezing and coughing my lungs out and want to be out of the city ASAP.  We jumped into another dodgy put-put, this time being fairly acclimatised to the inevitable dodgy driving to find our selves enjoying it like a ride.  Tom stole a few people’s souls along the way taking lots of snaps.

 

We got our tickets! At Leopold’s we decided we would sleep on the railway floor had

it not happened; we where going to sleep in twos for 5 hour shifts, but luckily we had

no need now.  The train was a 13-hour sleeper service; we luckily managed to acquire

our selves a bed for the night, unlike some other poor people who had a hard wooden

bench.  I was confronted by a man holding a ticket for my bed, he was not best

pleased with the thought of a bench, but after some discussion he left and

promised me a great time in India, with a very scary tone of voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had to sleep on the top bunk with my 20 Kilo 65 litre travel pack…, which was not

fun at all for a 6.1 person in a small Indian sized bed; the chaps I was sharing with

insisted I put it on the floor for my comfort, so obviously I complied… NOT, no way

was I going to allow a random stranger access to my stuff.  I soon fell asleep in a very

unnatural side ways fashion, only to be woken up some hours later by the sounds of

throat clearing and snot sucking, I then realised how uncomfortable I was and could

not go back to sleep. Damn it.  13 hours in a tiny bed with disgusting dodgy

compatriots, whom I had to be careful not to wake lest I wish to find out, how dodgy

they are.   After silently brewing in my head, I soon realised I needed to clear my

throat etc as the train was so damn humid, so I exacted at least  2 hours of nasty

revenge on them.  I managed to get back to sleep a few times only to be woken

several times, and then not get back to sleep for ages.  This pattern continued for what

seemed like forever, until my body no longer required sleep and I was going insane

 from boredom and discomfort.  Some hours later the Chai man started making his

rounds,  subtly calling his service and reminding everyone it was time to wake up…

well that didn’t happen for some hours more, then I had to sit and be bored listening

to Indian conversations I could not understand, as access to my travelling companions

was very hard due to the small nature of the train.  I forced my self to sleep some

more, which my roommates found very amusing for some reason, but anyway after

hours, and hours and many stops later, enough space was freed up to allow me to sit

with my friends.  A few pictures, tired glances and jokes away we reached Goa!

 

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