Bombay, the lake city and the blue city

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Asia » India
December 4th 2016
Published: December 4th 2016
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When I arrived in Mumbai, after a ten hour train ride, it took me and my taxi driver a while to find my hostel. It was tucked away in this small alley that didn't really have an address or street name. But once we found it, I was really happy with my choice. My dorm was very spacious and had a large bathroom attached to it. The beds were bigger than most bunk beds and every one of them was fitted with a curtain, a little light, power plug and locker. After unpacking a little I decided to explore the neighborhood. I found a place that serves real good chai on one end of the alley and a masala dosa stand on the other side, which is an Indian breakfast pancake with potato curry inside. After breakfast I went back to the hostel where I met a girl from Trinidad, Rhonda. She let me borrow her Lonely Planet guide, which I used to figure out what I wanted to do and see while in Mumbai. I decided to stay in my suburb and see what the markets here have to offer, which was a lot! In my alley and the streets surrounding it people were selling clothing, jewelry, accessories, fruit, veggies and other foods. There was also a place called the Community Hall across the street, which was being used for a wedding at the time. A good friend of the groom showed me around and even invited me to join the wedding :p After politely declining the offer I went back to the hostel. I was pretty tired after that long train ride, so I spend some time in my bed video calling with David and watching an episode from the new season of Orange is the new black 😊

Around 19:00 Rhonda and I wanted to go grab some dinner. Wicky, an Indian traveler, showed us a nice little street restaurant nearby where we had some great food for about €1 each! Later, Wicky's friend AJ joined us and we all went to a bar called Social to celebrate his birthday 😊

The next morning I was going to meet up with my friend Akshay! We met in Goa last year, but he lives in Mumbai, or as he calls it: Bombay. So around 11:00 he came to pick me up and he gave Rhonda and Wicky a ride to the city centre as they wanted to go there as well. Me and Akshay had a really great time walking around the downtown area called Colaba. First, we visited the Gateway of India, where the trades boats used to arrive in the colonial times, and the Taj Mahal Hotel, which is the biggest and most luxurious hotel in Bombay. For the last couple of months I've been reading a book called Shantaram. It's basically about an Australian fugitive that tries to build a new life for himself in Bombay, after having to leave everything behind. In this book him and his friends go this one restaurant a lot called Leopold's. And guess where we had lunch that day?! I was super excited to be able to have lunch there and I could totally picture what the scenes in the book would have looked like 😊

When the sun started to set we met up with Rhonda and Wicky again and walked to the majestic Victoria Terminus. This is the main train station in Bombay, which looks more like a castle and is beautifully lit at night.

When we got back to our hostel, Rhonda and I went out for dinner at the same little restaurant we went the night before. We were about half way through our meal when we hear the sound of drums outside. We stepped outside just in time to see a huge parade going through the street! Now that the monsoon is over it's wedding season here in Bombay. So every day there are multiple weddings at the Community Hall across from our hostel, each one bigger and more extravagant than the last. When we went back to the hostel, the wedding guests were still dancing in the street and it wasn't long before we were asked/forced to join them! What a great way to end an amazing day in this beautiful city 😊

The next day it was already time to leave Bombay. So after doing some last shopping in the markets I took a rickshaw to the train station. Turns out there are two train stations with the name Bandra: Bandra station is for local trains going into the city and Bandra Terminus for express trains to other cities. Luckily I still had enough time to go to the other station, where three Spanish guys asked me how to get to the local train station. Due to my mistake I was able to help them out, so at least it was good for something 😉

When I bought my train ticket about a month ago, it was a wait list ticket. When I checked the status of my ticket the day before, I was WL-1. Which meant I'd be the first one to get a confirmed ticket if anyone cancelled. So I was fairly sure my ticket was confirmed, but the website was having some issues and it wouldn't let me check any more, so I didn't know my seat number. Luckily, I found a group of elderly men who helped me figure out my seat number and 17 hours later I arrived in Udaipur!

When I walked out of the train station there, everyone directed me to one of the rickshaw drivers who turned out to have a Tripadvisor sticker on his rickshaw. But I guess even the super tourist rickshaw driver makes mistakes sometimes. There were two hostels from the same chain in Udaipur and you guys can probably guess at which one he dropped me off... So I took another rickshaw back to the right hostel, which was a lot closer to the city centre 😊 After checking in I put my bag in my room and set out to find some food. Then I walked up and down the main street, visited a Tibetan market and did some gift shopping. I met a really nice shop owner named Babu, whose sister had lived in Holland for a while ago, so he spoke some Dutch! He got us two cups of chai and we spend some time talking about traveling, India and Holland. 😊 After a quick lunch I went back to the hostel to unpack and sort my stuff out a little. Then I wandered around some more and I found a nice spot to watch the sunset over one of the big lakes Udaipur had to offer. I found a cute little restaurant along the water called Jasmin, where they serve great Indian food for an Indian price 😉

The next day I walked around the city again and bought some chai for me and Babu. I told him I wanted to have a dress made, but non of the tailors wanted to make it for me as they only make Indian dresses and sari's. Luckily, there was a tailor just across the street that specialized in making western style clothing. So after the chai I went there and I spend a good half an hour going through all the different fabrics and prints with him. After agreeing on a price he took my measurements and I asked him if I could come pick it up tomorrow morning. To which he responded: "No you leave tomorrow! You come back at six." Alright, if you say so 😉

After lunch I visited the Jagdish temple, which is a beautiful 400 year old structure that is still being used every day. Here, I spend some time looking at all the intricate little statues on the outside and observing the elderly ladies who gathered on the inside to to talk and pray. Back at the hostel I hung out with two guys from Australia and a girl from Germany until it was time to pick up my dress, which turned out beautifully and fit me perfectly 😊 At night I had dinner at the Jasmin restaurant again: "Aah, miss Holland, welcome back."

The next morning I woke up with a message from a friend with whom I'd worked in Jaipur last year: Tanay. I told him I was in Udaipur and guess where he'd moved less than a week ago! Crazy coincidence. So we arranged to meet up that afternoon, for a chat and an early dinner.

But first I went to a yoga class on a roof top, which was a really nice way to start the day. After that I had a quick breakfast and then I went back to the hostel to pack my bag and check out. I hung out at the hostel for a while until it was time for my massage! The day before I'd booked a 90-minute ayurvedic and neem massage for about one third of the price they usually ask. She worked on my back, legs and arms for most of the time, paying attention to every joint and muscle. Every finger and even every toe got its own little treatment. Then she gave me something called a belly balance treatment, which helps us foreigners cope with the Indian food, and the massage ended with an extensive facial.

So when I was all relaxed and refreshed it was time to meet to with Tanay. It was so great to meet up with my third and last Indian brother from my little Jaipur family 😊 We had chai and then drove around one of the lakes on his motorcycle. Because he hadn't been in Udaipur for very long, he'd never been to the Jasmin restaurant. So we had dinner there and talked about everything that happened in the past year and the plans we had for the next 😊 After dinner it was already time to say goodbye because I had to catch the night bus to Jodhpur.

We got to Jodhpur at 5:30 the next morning. Luckily, the guys at the hostel had already prepared my room. So when I got there around six, I went straight back to bed, not bothering to set an alarm. I guess I needed the sleep, cause it was already 11:30 when I woke up again! I decided to make the most of the rest of my day, so I started walking along one of the main streets. Jodhpur is called the blue city, cause it's known for its natural indigo paint and most of the houses are painted blue. The old part of the city is build around this huge fort that sits on a hill next to it, and offers a great view of the blue neighborhood below. So I decided to climb up to the fort, which might not have been my best idea so far. It was a pretty step climb to be doing during the hottest hours of the day, with only a small bottle of water, while wearing flip flops... But the view from the top was definitely worth it 😊

I hadn't taken the shortest way to the fort, but used the main roads to avoid getting lost. By the time I got back to the hostel, I'd been walking for more than four hours straight. So I spend the rest of my day on the rooftop, reading and chilling with the owner and the other guests. Luckily, the rooftop also functioned as a restaurant and I didn't even have to move to get dinner! After dinner I went back to my private room to have a shower and lay down in my double bed. Such luxury for only €4,50 a night 😊

The next day I walked to the biggest market in Jodhpur: The Clock Tower Market. Here, I met a couple of really nice shop owners again. I visited a little incents shop, where the owner opened package after package to let me smell them. When I had made my choice and was about to leave, he stopped me and handed me a small box of matches with the biggest smile you'll ever see 😊 After that I visited a shop where they sold scarves, bags and other clothes made from recycled dresses and sari's. The owner was really nice and offered me a cup of chai. We talked about life in India and Europe while I sorted through a stack of scarves and a basket of purses looking for something I liked. After I'd paid, I notice another box of purses and he told me I could pick one for free 😊 He also shared his lunch with me, which his wife had made for him. Super nice!

When I got back to the hostel, I hung out at the rooftop again for the rest of the day until it was time to go to bed. The next morning the owner drove me to the train station, where I took the train to my next destination: Jaisalmer.

I'm half way through my trip now and I must say that India keeps surprising me in a very positive way 😊 Most people are so nice, helpful and generous! I can't help but love it here 😊


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