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Published: February 21st 2008
When we had finally seen the magestic Ellora Ajanta caves, we knew it was time at last to head to Mumbai, or as I've been told, more properly still called Bombay~ Yet this rustlebustle city is still by far the most expensive in India, so we sought a refuge from the city for a few days - within easy reach - but a relaxing spot where we could await the arrival of Lex's best friend, Alex... And we found Matheran
Considered the most picturesque of the Hill Stations in Mahareshtra, this little town called to us~ we hopped a local train for a short train ride from the beautiful Victoria Terminus station. Though completely empty when we first jumped on, our car very quickly crammed full of our Indian brethren who piled atop eachother and us, always seemingly room for one or 5 more... Luckily the 2 hours passed quickly to the Neral Junction, where we connected with the Toy Train (yes, Toy Train) up the hill to the town. This ubercute little passenger train rode us up the long, steep and windy hill on only a 2 ft. guage track! Lex had approximately 14 heart attacks as we lurched up
the precipitous edge, through "1-kiss tunnel" where all the kids squealed...
The village itself strangely resembled some kind of old-West town, with red dirt roads, no vehicles allowed, little quaint shops along the road and beautiful Persian horses the main mode of transport... Middle-class Indians were the main tourists here, some with cowboy hats to complete the image of truly Cowboys and Indians-
Lex and I found a peaceful and beautiful hotel 15 minutes walk from the train station, Maria's Guesthouse with huge, beautiful rooms, large open-air decks and even colorful tile mosaics! We were given a 5-person room for the cost of a double, because it was all that was available~
Now along with the tourists and the horses, the other dominant residents of the town were the Macaque monkeys... These guys were absolutely not shy of humans as we discovered when we first got there - checking into our room we'd inadvertantly left the front door ajar, and as I walked back towards it I noticed a pretty big primate nonchalantly letting himself in. When he saw me coming, he lazily exited and I closed the door behind him. But later this continued as Lex and I were
Lex loves animals of all shapes
some crazy fun rides in this town
doing yoga on the back porch and suddenly she saw one of them sneek up and reach for my bag on the table! She yelled at it and we got up as it ran back a bit- standing its ground on the edge of the porch, teeth blaring hair raised... I assumed this simply a show and picked up a towel to swing and chase it away, as I'd seen one of the local boys do earlier. Yet this didn't seem to faze it and it go angrier. As I moved closer swinging, an Indian tourist sitting in the yard quietly told me not to hit it- eventually explaining that if I did, his entire family would rain down attack on me in retaliation. I felt very lucky and returned the room. . . Shortly thereafter, we heard an huge ruccus outside and when we stepped back out, the monkey family had knocked over all the chairs out on the deck. I saw this as a warning - not to mess with the Macaque mafia.
The next day we rented some horses (Fluffy and Snowboy) and rode out to the Sunset Point, a breathtaking vista reminicent only of the Grand
Canyon! Here the monkeys pranced around too. Lex had a kinda tough time with the sheer cliffs but the view was truly magical~
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