Page 3 of Simunique Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai December 25th 2019

Travelling on Mumbai’s trains is not for the claustrophobic, and getting up close (but hopefully not personal) with commuting strangers is impossible to avoid. More than seven million commuters a day cram onto Mumbai’s creaky suburban railway network. Crowding is extreme, with trains often carrying six times their capacity. During peak hours its estimated each suburban train carries 5000 commuters. Close to 3000 people die annually riding the Mumbai Metro, that’s eight people a day, according to rail officials. In 2018, 650 passengers died falling from trains alone, others were hit by poles whilst hanging through carriage doors, and even more were killed on the ground. Mumbaikars are always in a hurry to reach their destination, and there are those who won’t use a railway bridge, choosing instead to take their life in their hands, leap ... read more
Yellow metro train in Mumbai

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai December 24th 2019

We were up early at 3.00am, as we had a 4.00am pickup with our driver for an airport transfer. Our flight to Mumbai was scheduled to depart at 7.00am, but we find ourselves still sitting in the airport hours later as our flight has been delayed, now departing at 10.00am. There is nothing more boring than sitting around an airport...waiting....waiting... No transfer was arranged from Mumbai Airport on arrival, so we found the pre-paid taxi counter, told them our destination, and paid for our fare via a voucher system, before we found a taxi. It was R1500 ($30) into the Fort district where our hotel was, and the trip took almost two hours. A new metro line is being built through Mumbai with long sections of the roads being closed off behind corrugated iron walls, forcing ... read more
The Taj Palace Hotel
Arch of the Gateway of India lit up with bright pink light
The Zara shop lit up

Asia » India » Goa December 23rd 2019

Today, our last in Goa, finds us up early and waiting outside for our driver at 6.30am, as we're heading to Dudhsager Falls. These falls form part of the border between Goa and Karnataka and are India's 5th highest waterfall. At around 120klm for the return journey, this trip is well outside our 80klm daily allowance, so will cost us extra but I'm sure it will be well worth it. It was our driver's idea to start this early, to avoid the traffic and the expected long ticket office queue later in the day. Heading south, ninety minutes later we drive into the almost deserted parking area at the entrance to Mollem National Park. A small queue is already apparent at the unopened ticket office, and we join them. When they eventually opened, we couldn't believe ... read more
Sign on the way into the falls
swimmers enjoying the water
Friendly mandarin eating monkey

Asia » India » Goa » Panaji December 22nd 2019

Hugging 162 klm of the west coast, with 54 beaches lapped by waves from the Arabian Sea, Goa is the smallest and richest state in India. It’s well known for sandy beaches, scrumptious seafood and it’s Portuguese heritage. Goa has a long history as a Portuguese colony, dating from 1510 until they were forced out in 1961. Their indelible mark is still evident in the state’s baroque architecture, whitewashed churches, crumbling forts, and the stunning cathedrals of Old Goa. Panaji is the capital, though Vasco De Garma is the largest city. Our train pulled into the station at Margao, 40klm south of Panaji at 6.00am on Friday morning, 45 minutes late. Margao is the second largest city by population, and the commercial and cultural capital of Goa. For tourists, it’s mainly a transport hub, somewhere they ... read more
Reis Magos Fort Cannon
Reis Magos Fort
Reis Magos Fort

Asia » India » Karnataka » Hampi December 20th 2019

Today is our last day in Hampi and a check of the itinerary showed there were still several places I wanted to see which we hadn’t visited yet. So after breakfast we headed out, intent on walking to the Queen’s Bath about a kilometre away. But we didn’t get far before a rickshaw driver stopped to talk, looking for a fare. He pulled out his Hampi map and I pointed out the places we had yet to visit. We came to an agreement on price for the morning and piled into his auto rickshaw, the idea of walking now completely forgotten. First stop was the Queen’s Bath. This structure was the private bathing chamber of the king and his wives. It has a very plain boxy exterior but inside there’s a two metre deep bathing pool ... read more
Inside the Queen’s Bath
Window balconies inside the Queen’s Bath
Lady sweeping inside Queen’s Barh

Asia » India » Karnataka » Hampi December 18th 2019

We have spent the past two days out and about Hampi and the surrounding area with our auto rickshaw driver. He has taken us to some great places that we would never have found on our own, and a couple of places we probably wouldn’t have bothered with. Overall though, we’re happy with our days, and happy to return to our hotel after six or so hours out and about, to get out of the heat and have some down time. We have a long way to go with this trip and need to pace ourselves. Yesterday we visited some of the monuments which had no admission fee, starting with Bhojanasala, the community dining area for 15th century soldiers, with rows of food plates carved on the rock slabs, complete with the dimples of tiny bowls ... read more
Lord Vishnu statue
River views in Hampi
River views in Hampi

Asia » India » Karnataka » Hampi December 17th 2019

Hampi, described as a fantasy world of rocks and ruins, lies in the south Indian state of Karnataka, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Now a laid-back ancient village which sprawls over both sides of the river, Hampi was once the last capital of Vijayanagar, one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms in India’s history. The magnificent ruins of Hampi dot an unearthly landscape that’s captivated travellers for centuries. Heaps of giant boulders dot kilometres of undulating terrain, their rusty hues offset by jade-green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields. The nearest airport to Hampi is at Belgaum 270klm away, and the nearest railway station, where we finally arrived this morning, is at Hospet, 13klm away. Auto rickshaws filled the parking area outside the railway station, but we had secured ourselves a driver within two ... read more
The famous Stone Chariot
The gateway into Vittala Temple
Vittala Temple

Asia » India December 16th 2019

Today is our last day in Hyderabad and we have no real plans. Ginny has finished the novel she bought from home so we decided to head to the Taj Mahal Hotel in the neighbouring district of Abids. I knew there was a Sunday Book Market held on the footpath outside this hotel, so it seems like a good place to start on the hunt for a new read. We were early, we saw more boxes of unpacked books than anything else but Ginny did find a Maeve Binchy novel which fit the bill. There were a lot of stands selling men’s clothing here, all piled up on the tables. The scooters belonging to buyers were parked along the side of the road in front of them, with absolutely no regard for the safety of pedestrians. ... read more
Street Stand
Demolished front of buildings
Street scene in Koti

Asia » India December 14th 2019

When I travel I like to have time to walk, to get away from the main tourist attractions and look deeper into the soul of the city I’m visiting. Sometimes I don’t like what I see, it can be disturbing and uncomfortable. But it’s also the only way to connect with the people and create some memorable interactions, and there’s no better place than India to experience this. We have seen everything in Hyderabad, all the tourist attractions we’re interested in that is, so today decided to return to Charminar and spend some time walking deeper into the streets and laneways that branch off this main thoroughfare. We left our hotel this morning, deciding to hail an auto rickshaw from the street. There’s plenty available and every one of them will stop and ask us where ... read more
In the laneways around Charminar
In the laneways around Charminar
The Preening Man

Asia » India December 13th 2019

Our auto rickshaw driver from yesterday was waiting in the car park for us at 6.30am this morning, as arranged. We need an early start as we’re heading to the Gudimalkapur wholesale flower markets, and if we arrive later in the morning, will miss all the action. Our driver pulled up outside a wholesale vegetable market and told us the flower market was behind it. This market was a bonus, huge piles of super fresh green chillies, garlic, potatoes and vegetables I didn’t recognise laid out for sale. We walked through, heading to the buildings at the rear, and could smell the flowers before we actually saw them. Never have I seen flowers in such volume, some in sacks, others in crates, but most in heaps on the ground. Marigold, chrysanthemum, carnation and rose heads, ready ... read more
A Friendly Vendor
Gudimalkapur Flower Markets
Gudimalkapur Flower Markets

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