Friday, 28 June 2013

Exploring Mumbai

We were up early to be at the train station by 7.30 am to buy our Tatkal ticket for our next train trip, only to find a small crowd of locals at the foreigner’s window. We waited anxiously, hoping that the daily quota of 15 Tatkal tickets wouldn’t sell out. Luckily there were two seats left, so we forked out the extra cost and finally had our sleeper-class beds for the 19 hour trip to Satna.

Since our previous night had been spent in a windowless, rather stuffy room we devoted some time in the morning inspecting other places but they were either too costly or in even worse condition - so we decided to settle for the devil we knew. When we got back we asked whether on the off chance a room with a window had become available and surprisingly one had. So for only $1 more we moved to a large room with an ocean view and a lovely sea breeze, quite the improvement for the price... even though the room looked like, but thankfully wasn’t, a bed bug haven!

Mumbai University with cricket on the grounds
We decided to follow the Lonely Planet walking tour of central Mumbai, although we'd already covered a lot of it in our search for hotels! It didn’t bother us as Mumbai was an interesting place to stroll around with quite a few beautiful English style buildings to admire such as the Court and University (on whose fields, of course, there was a requisite game of cricket happening). 

Gateway of India
In the afternoon we caught a taxi out to see the Haji Ali Mosque, a mosque that you can only walk out to visit at low tide as the walkway goes under when the tide comes in. We fluked timing the low tide and walked out amongst the filth that the low tide revealed to see the mosque. We were quite disappointed actually, it was run down and uninspiring, crawling with random temporary food stalls, beggars with horrific injuries and people hawking all kinds of offerings or begging for blessings. In our humble opinion, not worthy of the 'Top Choice' status that the Lonely Planet gives it.

We went for a walk around the Gateway area at sunset to see the town and harbour lit up at night, although the famous Gateway of India wasn't illuminated as we expected it to be. Even so, it was still nice to stroll around the waterfront, watching Indian tourists ride around in crazy Cinderella looking horse and buggy combos with lights flashing all over and boom boxes blaring out crazy tunes. An entertaining evening had  by all.

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