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Published: March 2nd 2007
Like the middle class Indian families on their weekend breaks and honeymooners we've decided the perfect way to run away from the downsides of India, is to head to the hill stations.
For Mumbai city folk, the small town of Matheran is an oasis of green, 3000 feet above sea level and the best place to rest ones lungs. At the top of the hill, taxis and other automobiles are forbidden as there are no roads in Matheran!
A bit like entering a theme park, we paid our entrance fee (a small price to pay for litter free streets) and then had to choose whether we would reach our hotel by handcart, cycle-rickshaw or horse! We walked and for some reason employed a porter to carry our luggage. We’d expected two porters to share the load but one grey-haired guy with a very strong neck stepped up to carry our combined 30 kilos. Needless to say we felt very embarrassed although the attitude here is that these men (and women) can earn up to 1000 rupees a day - much more than any farmer.
Walking along the forest pathways is slightly bizarre as you feel transported to the
It's Hard Work Being A Porter
Still, money's better than no money
18th Century where produce is pulled on hand carts. You hear the clippety -clop of horses' hooves and occasionally have to dodge their dung!
Ditching the “independent travelling” for a while, we booked ourselves into the very friendly, Lord’s Central Hotel for an all-inclusive three nights package. We were left to our own devices, to swim in the pool, play some victorian badminton and use the giant chess board they’d provided for the kids. We've got the impending feeling that our year-long holiday will be over soon, so in Matheran we took the opportunity to plough through paperbacks and drink copious amounts of beer in the afternoon.
We took idle strolls to the many vantage points looking out over the plains to the South, East and West. For a five-hour walk we were joined by two stray dogs that obediently followed us, their temporary masters for the day. This is the second time in our journey that a dog has taken a walk with us - perhaps I could offer dog walking services whilst I’m looking for a job when I get back!
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