Tag Archives: Mumbai

India: Mumbai Return

March 12 – 15, 2017

Practicalities:

Accommodations: Travellers Inn – Fort (2600INR/night, booking.com). We happily returned to Travellers Inn where we stayed when we first arrived in India. Our room this time had slightly nicer decor but the best thing was the really hot water shower. The only downside was they did away with the not-too-bad breakfast and replaced it with a toaster and white bread in the common room.

Transportation: We travelled from Canacona to Mumbai via India Rail, 3AC class. We enjoyed meeting our fellow travellers in 3AC (six bunks to a berth). We slept well on the gently rocking train. We arrived at Lokmanya Station, ignored all the rickshaw/taxi touts pestering us as we walked from the train and found the pre-pay taxi stand. While in Mumbai we again walked frequently but also took a commuter train from Churchgate to Khar Station and back to visit with a friend. A real Mumbai commuter experience!

Food: Various restaurants but the one that stood out was the Apoorava Restaurant where we had Bombay Duck (actually fish) and other Mumbai specialties. We also had our tastebuds excited by a pudding (we’ve yet to identify) from a milk shop on a small side street; chai from small shops and street vendors; ice cream to die for from K Rustom’s; chicken tikka …

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Last Meal in Mumbai… OMG! So Tasty!

Reflections

When we originally reserved our room we were only thinking of being in Mumbai to catch our flight home. However, during our time in Fort Kochi we met a wonderful Indian woman artist who invited us to visit her on our return to Mumbai. We were so lucky to have Arti invite us to her home and help us with our last minute shopping. She also informed us that we were going to be in Mumbai for Holi, the Hindu Spring festival.

We arrived on a Sunday when the Holi festival was about to start with evening bonfires (check my Instagram feed for photos). Mumbai seemed almost deserted with little traffic for the first two days of our stay. We arrived early Sunday morning and while having coffees noticed some classic cars lining the street just before leaving on a Sunday cruise. And we were able to view some of the architecture without the distraction of almost being run-over by the frenetic traffic.

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Classic Cars on a Sunday

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Sun Assurance Building

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Another Classic

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Cornered

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Crawford Market without Traffic

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Study in Contrasts

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Which Country are We In?

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CST with Little Traffic Obscuring the View

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More Contrasts. (And what’s with the pink face?)

We started our Monday morning with chai from a small shop near our hotel. While sitting chatting with another customer we got our first dash of Holi colour from a passing man who dabbed our foreheads. Now that we were marked others soon approached us with more colours…

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Early Morning Colours

and the colour continued to build, layer upon layer as we met people on our Holi wanderings.

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Approaching Fashion Street

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Family on Fashion Street

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Rainbow Man at Chowpatty Beach

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Mutual Admiration Society

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Sue Gets More Colour

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Dangerous Youngster

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Even the Dogs

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Coloured and Happy

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Sharing Good Times…

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… Especially with the Kids

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Are We Getting Close to Our Hotel Yet?

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Outside Travellers Inn

Back at the hotel we thought we’d dust off, have a shower… but no! Travellers had organized a Holi party and we were soon being sprayed with water and splattered with yet more colour. After showering though we discovered that some pigments have staying power: the red/pink finally disappeared about five days later!

Colours: India is super-saturated….

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Paan and Incense

So our final few days in India were not solely devoted to last minute shopping. We enjoyed Holi, especially interacting with so many happy people. And of course the food …

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Best Ice Cream Ever!

The people really made our trip to India special. We met so many wonderful, friendly, helpful people.

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Our Friend Arti and Some of Her Artwork

And now we’re home again. We’re missing India. We never got to all the places we wanted to because we kept staying longer wherever we were. Which means we’ll be returning to continue our travel adventures.

It’ll take a few days to recover from jet lag (we’re back halfway around the world) but then I’ll write a final post and attempt to summarize our experiences and pass along any tips for travellers to a most intriguing country.

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India: Pender Island to Mumbai

We departed Pender early Sunday, January 8, 2017 and spent the day visiting family in Sidney and Victoria; including seeing the new Star Wars: Rogue One.

Very early (4:30am) Monday morning we were up and took a taxi to the Victoria Airport for our 6:05 flight to Seattle. From Seattle we flew Emirates to Dubai and then on to Mumbai. Security was more intense than usual at the airports. I had a secondary screening in Victoria, where my money belt had to be extracted and all my cash fell out onto the floor. In SeaTac the personnal were far more uptight than usual; one fellow complained about how we put our small packs on the scanner belt on their bottoms rather than their sides. Security in Dubai was far simpler and we were there only briefly.

The best part was the flight itself. I’m so glad we booked with Emirates. It was a bit more expensive than flying westwards with one of the Chinese airlines but was far more comfortable and had more amenities. We had pre-booked our seats and chose an aisle seat and a window seat. Lucky for us the Seattle – Dubai flight was not full so we had an empty seat between us, giving us some sprawl space (we’ll be using that strategy again!). We were given menus and had both dinner and breakfast on the 15 hour haul to Dubai, including free drinks plus a major snack. The multi-national air crew were amazing. Plus we were each given a beautifully designed small bag with eye shades, toothbrush etc. The screen on the back of the seat in front of us had a large selection of movies including current theatre releases.

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Moscow by Night

We flew a polar route: over the BC interior, Edmonton, Great Slave Lake and up and over. I nodded off for a few hours, after the sun set somewhere over the Arctic, and woke up over Greenland. The full moon lit up the icy landscape below. Once I saw a hump of heavily glaciated dark rock and another time a triangle of lights in the middle of nowhere. Then we crossed Greenland’s coast, flew over the water until we crossed the northern edge of Scandinavia. Below I could see a port and a few ships lit up. Towns were few and far between. Gradually cloud cover blanketed the continent. When the plane’s flight map showed us approaching Moscow I hauled out my camera and took some photos of the city glowing through the clouds. Daybreak found us between the Black and Caspian seas. The landscape was rugged with snowy peaks. As we flew over Iran I was fascinated to see snow covered peaks. The textures of the landscape prompted me to take quite a few photos. Then we crossied over the Gulf and landed in Dubai. I could barely make out the towers in the city due to a thick haze.

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Iran by Day

The flight to Mumbai only took a few hours and we landed at about 5:30pm. Both of us had only catnapped on the flight so were starting to feel tired. But we’ve certainly endured far worse long flight that have left us exhausted. We cleared Customs and changed some money in the airport. One of our pre-trip worries was the news of the demonetization of some of India’s currency and horror stories of finding cash. We changed Canadian money and were given some rupees and debit cards for the balance. So far (one week in) we’ve had no issues with cash. We’ve been using rupees, the debit cards and our own Canadian bank cards to withdraw cash.

We proceeded to the taxi pre-pay booking stand and were set up with a Yellow and Black taxi to take us to our hotel. We had arrived just in time for rush hour! I had printed a Google map with directions to our hotel which I gave our driver. He seemed a bit puzzled by the hotel’s location and made one stop before we even left the airport for clarification. I was glad I didn’t leave my elbow hanging out the taxi window for long as we almost immediately had a car come within inches of us. We were alternately caught in immense jams and speeding along clear roads through the dusk. Pedestrians, cars, trucks, buses, carts, auto-rickshaws and cows lurched out of the semi-darkness as our driver expertly propelled us along. We passed high tower blocks, ramshackle slums and endless small businesses. After about an hour we pulled over and our driver chatted with a shop owner and found we were within blocks of our destination. He couldn’t drop us at our hotel door as the street was ripped up but he got us within easy walking distance. One hour taxi ride = just over $10. Plus a tip for delivering us safe and sound.

We checked in and were soon sound asleep.

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Street with Travellers Hotel – Fort, Mumbai

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