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December 9th 2009
Published: August 9th 2017
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Geo: 19.0801, 72.9134

So i finally made my way down to Colaba which is in the main downtown area of Mumbai, at this point i didn't have anything booked, So I made my way towards the Red Shield Salvation Army Hostel, along the way I saw a guy so I asked where the hostel was, he pointed to the direction but said that he had got the last room only 5 minutes ago, but immediately offered to share his room with me.
His name was Johannes, from Germany, one strapping young lad who had just flew in from Frankfurt, so as it was his first night he was a bit tired and disorientated.
So I checked in to a fairly plain room with aircon, which really wasn't needed but we had not option, and a cold shower. I'm starting to get used to cold showers now.
So we spent the night talking. We didn't have anything really planned for the next day, only to see a few sights and then a walking tour suggested in the lonely planet.
As we stopped on an intersection to get our bearings an Indian guy approached us and was wondering what we were doing, we told him just a walking tour in which he replied, "Don't do that crappy tour". He said his name was Terrance and that he offered daily tours through different parts of Mumbai.

At first, and as always, we were skeptical, but then he pulled out a book full of testimonials from people all over the world telling us that he was rally nice and it was fun to go on the tour and to give him a go, had it not been for this book we would have dismissed him like every other tout in India. We went to a local coffee shop where he explained in detail where and what the tour would involve and we took a gamble and decided to go with him.
First stop was to checkout the local University and Victoria station, we then caught cabs to some markets which where quite cool, but on the down side it also had a meat market out the back where it stank and meat and guts and all sorts were lying on the ground, this put me off a bit, but aside from that they were pleasant markets selling fruit, vegetable and all sorts.

We then went up north by taxi to the place where they wash clothes by hand, this place was pretty amazing to see. They work out in the open so you can imagine it would be intolerable during summer, and literally hundreds and hundreds of clothes are hung in every available space.
From there we caught a local train about 25min North where we stopped for some local food, Terrance ordered some food for us which tasted fantastic, i can't remember what we had but it was good. Then we proceeded to a place up the road in the middle of the suburbs where they house hundreds of water buffalo, this was a shock to see how they were kept, just tied up for most of the day, and to make it worse the place is located along a major street, so with the honking of the horns and the traffic noise it just makes it worse for the buffalo because they get stressed out. It's a horrible place. So we then caught a taxi to the Slums.

At this point we were enjoying our little tour with Terrance but the catch was that we had to pay for everything, this included Taxi fares, train tickets, food and beer in which we paid for Terrance too. So at this point it started to add up on top of our already paid 1700Rs which is around $20 each. But i suppose in the long run we did go to some amazing places that tourists would not know about and that Terrance was very helpful with regards to tips and was very knowledgeable.

So we arrived at the slums, at first glimpse from the outside it did look fairly shabby and poor, apparently about 9 million live in the slums. So the 3 of us took a walk through the tiny walkways looking at houses markets throughout. The thing that amazed me was no matter how poor people were or the conditions they had, the kids especially, they all seemed happy, they never came up and begged for money, the only thing they begged for, again especially the kids, were to have their photo taken. It's quite touching. We walked through a little alleyway and they had 5 massive speakers pumping out very loud and up to date music. Just 200 meters from the speakers there was a crowd playing music and dancing till their hearts content. This was for a Wedding Ceremony.
So no matter how bad it looked, it was still amazing to see how happy people could still get.
So after that sobering experience, the 3 of us took another taxi to Chowpatty Beach, a famous beach in Mumbai, but this beach is not for swimming. The amount of rubbish along the water surface is enough to put you off straight away, it almost acts as a force field that's impenetrable, but the beach it's self is a nice place to sit and contemplate.
At this point it was creeping towards 8 pm and it had been a pretty long day, so we took yet another taxi and drove back towards where we were staying with stopover, well a quick drive up and down, Mumbai's red light district.
So we managed to see quite a few places throughout the day and there was so much still to see, so at no extra cost we arranged to meet Terrance the following day to see what else Mumbai had to offer.

So after a long day, Johannes opted to go to bed, but i had to meet up with Carole who had flown into Mumbai from London earlier that day. So we finally met in person after a a few months of email contact and went and got a beer.

The following day, after hearing about our tour, Carole decided to join us, so we met Terrance again and proceeded to other places. We first caught a local bus up near Chowpatty beach where there were some gardens and nice views of the beach and the city. We then walked up the road to an old abandoned water hole, i think it used to be a temple and they have just left it. Walking around we could see old statues that had been discarded, it housed quite a few birds as well.
We then checked out an amazing temple and saw people doing their religious prayers . Most of these place we went to with Terrance were places in which unless i was writing down the names i would not remember them. So sorry for the vague descriptions.
Terrance had promised to show Carole some of the places we saw the day before, so we opted to go with her and we revisited the water buffalo, and the slums. The day as drawing to a close again so we took a drive along a newly constructed bridge over the sea towards the city.

The following day was more relaxing, we went and bough our tickets to Aurangabad and took a walk along the waterside. Johannes was due to meet an local for a bit of couch surfing so he plodded off while Carole and myself got some dinner and set in for the night.

Mumbai was busy, big and hot, but i found it a more pleasant city that Delhi, it was more cleaner and structured. By the time we had to leave i started to like Mumbai.

So what had i learned in the one week i had already spent in India.

- It's an amazing place, It's so Diverse and the distances are vast.

- It was shock to see the pollution, poverty and traffic and it does take a while to settle in.

- My personal view is that it would be better to see India with a travel companion, although you do meet other travelers, it's a bit harder to what I'm used to which is shared dormitories. Because in India it's mostly single hotel rooms.

- I find it hard to trust locals in India, this is because in the bigger cities they are all out to get extra money from you, rip you off and always trying to get you to buy things or take rides.
I still find it hard to have a normal conversation without being cautious and wondering what the catch is.

- Indians love to take photos, We have been asked to take photos of kids and adults and at the start its nice but after a while there is no point and it gets a bit annoying.

- The food is amazing, well Vegetarian food so far. I've managed to go Vegetarian, maybe I'm being over cautious, but i see that you can have an amazing dinner without the need for meat.

- I'm not too sure why, but Indians do tend to stare a lot, and they don't hide it. It's pretty blatant.

I am slowly settling in, now that i have people to travel with i feel less isolated and can enjoy traveling more.


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22nd December 2009

Hi there,I'll be traveling to Mumbai soon. Did you happen to get Terrance's contact information?Cheers.
18th March 2011

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