Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Part 2



Mumbai


Both of my flights with Turkish Airlines were excellent, with plenty of leg room and both the food and service were great.  I arrived at Mumbai at 05.50 and it only took 5 minutes to clear immigration and customs. After I picked up my backpack I withdrew some cash from the ATM and booked my taxi at the prepaid taxi desk.

The taxi cost 700 Rupees for an Air con cab (just an open window!). The roads were surprisingly quiet although it was still only 06.30. The sun was rising in the smog and I was on my way. The journey only took about 30 minutes through the different districts of Mumbai, until we reached Colaba, on the tip of Mumbai. I found my hotel, the YWCA ok and dropped my bags off. I can’t check in until 12.00 Noon, so will go off for a wander. It was already getting hot and I was tired and hungry. I had breakfast at Café Mondegar….scrambled egg on toast, tea and a water, cost 210 RPS. The food was good and the place was covered in cartoon paintings on the wall.

Cafe Mondegar






 I walked round the corner to the harbour where the Gate of India was and the Taj Palace Hotel.

Gateway to India

Taj Palace, Mumbai


Both were very impressive, although the Gate of India had lots of touts who would pester you. It was still only 9.00 am and I was getting very hot and sticky so went to Café Leopold, a famous backpacker café to have another coffee to keep me going. Café leopold was at the centre of the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2010 along with the Taj Palace Hotel. Scores of people were shot by the Pakistani terrorists.  I sat and cooled off, and read my book Shantaram, a novel set in Mumbai.




I still had time to kill so I decided to catch a bus to CST (Victoria Terminus) The bus only cost 2 RPS and it took me to the stunning Victorian station.





 I took some photos and got a bit lost trying to walk back, so caught a cab back to the hotel for 100 RPS. It’s very easy to get lost in India, as there are few street names and the maps are hopeless. You lose all sense of direction as the roads are chaos and by now were packed solid.


I made it back to the Hotel YWCA and checked in (even though I’m Male and not so young, all are welcome) The room was good (2100 RPS a night for an AC single room) and the Air con worked well. I had a lie down and tried to get a bit of sleep, as I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours, but couldn’t. So I showered and headed out again to Café Leopold for lunch. I had Veg curry, rice and Naan and a couple of glasses of local beer (790 RPS). The food and service were good and it was a good place to sit and write my journal. I got chatting to the waiter, and he pointed out this man sitting at a table below…It was Gregory David Roberts, the author of Shantaram, the book I am reading!



I Went back to the hotel and managed to Skype home. I’m feeling shattered so will probably just chill and get my first bit of sleep for 36 hours…….
Oh well, got my second wind and had dinner at my hotel which was included in the room price had a lovely mixed veg curry, Dhal and Mutton Rogan Josh. Spicy too. Went round the corner back to Café Mondegar to have a beer.

The place was packed now, and I met a Business man from Bangalore called Ravindra. He was an interesting bloke and we talked about our different cultures and I’ve got an invite to meet his family in Bangalore next year! It turned out that he was a Freemason, and I think he was trying to recruit me.
A good night and the beer went down well!

Day 2

I Got about 5 hours sleep last night and woke at 05.30. My train leaves Mumbai tonight from CST at 23.05. I’m catching the Konkan Kanya express to Karmali, just outside Panaji in Goa. So I’ve got a full day ahead in Mumbai. I need to checkout of my room at the YWCA by 12.00, but I’m hoping to leave my backpack in storage until tonight.
I got up at 6.00 and walked to the harbour by India gate to catch the sunrise. The sky glowed red and the reflected in the Arabian Sea. It looked beautiful and very calming.







Street Family outside Gateway of India





I went back to the YWCA to have my breakfast which is included in the room rate. Breakfast was buffet style and I had porridge, Spiced Spinach Omelette, Curried fish patty, a sweet sponge called Dhokla and toast. Great start to the day.

I met a taxi driver outside my hotel, and he offered to take me on a tour of the Mumbai sites for 900 RPS, I agreed and he said he said he would be with me all day and then take me to the station at 21.30 tonight for my train to Goa. I went back to shower, pack and check-out, and was back with the driver 30 minutes later for my tour. First stop was Oval Maidan, where the great University of Mumbai and the High court were located. The architecture was incredible and was in a Gothic style.

Clock Tower, Mumbai



The buildings were the back drop to the Oval Maidan which is a huge recreation area where the locals play cricket. I sat and watched a match for a while and took a few photos.


Oval Maidan, Mumbai



Then we drove down Marine drive to a beach area called Girguam Chowpatty. It was a quiet beach with a few food stalls, and some families living in makeshift shelters on the beach, including this sweet little girl...




The Taxi driver was a funny bloke who was buying Bhang (Cannabis) and eating it to keep him going, a guy from Italy came for part of the journey and he was trying to buy some Heroin! It seems that this guy can fix you with anything you want.

Laundry Ghat, Mumbai



The tour continued to some holy Ghats surrounded by temples and then onto a Mosque. The Mosque was at the end of a pier which went out into the Arabian sea.  The pier was very busy and was lined with cripples and people with horrific diseases. A group of men with missing limbs lay down in a circle and were rocking back and forth chanting.  India is a challenging place to visit, but the adventure, the sites and the people make it all worth while. The tour continued to the Hanging gardens, which were so colourful and kept in pristine condition.

 I asked to go to Brittania and Company restaurant for lunch, as I had read about it. It’s owned by an Iranian family and the old guy was a character who took the order and told you his life story! He claimed to know our Queen, he had a letter from her and her photo was proudly on display on the wall. I had an unusual dish called Chicken Berry Pulav and chapatti. (500 RPS.)

Chicken Berry Pulav



 The tour ended back at Marine Drive so I could take some photos at sunset. The wall began to fill with people, to sit and watch the sun dip into the Indian Ocean.

Marine Drive, Mumbai







I walked back to Colaba and had some Chai, soda and Veg Biryani at a budget restaurant called Shakar (80 RPS!!) It was superb value. Mahindra my driver picked me up and took me to the station for my Konkan Kanya Express train to Karmali. It departed at 23.05 on time and that was it for Mumbai

…An eventful day and I saw loads of interesting things……Next stop Goa!

Goa

I got to the station in plenty of time and found my platform. No.18. the furthest one away. The station is huge and absolutely heaving with people.

CST Station Mumbai


 I boarded the Konkan Kanya Express train and it departed bang on time. I shared my AC2 tier coupe with an Indian family with 2 young kids. They had no intention of trying to get to sleep until after 1.00 am, so I couldn’t either. I eventually got to sleep and slept on and off until 5.30 am. As the sun rose I sat at the open doorway of the train as the train went through the Indian countryside.


I don’t know why but we arrived 2 hours late at Karmali station. I caught a Rickshaw to my hotel, Afonso Guest House in Panaji. The hotel was in a nice quiet area and the room was clean and basic. I unpacked and had a cold shower and then was off out again. I had a nice lunch of Fried Prawn Rice at a restaurant called Viva Panaji, a nice Portuguese restaurant around the corner of the hotel. Meal, 1 beer and water came to 180 RPS, a bargain.


 I hired a scooter for 2 days (500RPS). The scooter was nippy and was a great way to get around. I rode around the streets of Panaji and then across the river on the free Ferry to Candolim beach, I parked up and went to the sea which was lovely and warm.




 I will go back there tomorrow, when I’ve got my swimwear on and my sun cream….it’s been hot, hot, hot all the way.

 I got back to my hotel and went straight to sleep for an hour. I went out with my camera to take some pictures over Panjim at sunset, Panjim has a majestic white church at the centre, which looks over the city below.

Panaji, Goa



I had a great meal at a restaurant called Quarter Deck, on the sea front, it was more expensive than my other
meals, but the food and setting was perfect. Masala Calamari, Tandoori Bream and 2 beers came to 1050 RPS. I walked back to Afonso feeling full and tired after a great day.

I woke up at 07.00 after a good night’s sleep, AC is not included in the room price, but they have a good ceiling fan and you can leave the windows open as the area is quiet and the windows have Mozzie nets. I ordered my breakfast and ate it on the tranquil rooftop, overlooking all the terracotta tile rooftops and the surrounding area. You could easily be in Portugal.

I went out on my scooter to Old Goa which is 12km from Panaj, a brilliant ride along the banks of the river to the Old capital. I’ve got the knack of using the horn as often as the locals. There was some stunning old Cathedrals and churches and some old ruins in Old Goa.


Old Goa





 It was once the most glorious city in all of Asia, and was labelled the Rome of the East.  It’s now a UNESCO heritage site. It was a pleasant ride  around the shady lanes. You can catch a free ferry across the river to Divar Island.






Island Divar



 It’s like time stood still at Divar Island, there were swamps, rivers and farm land and some old houses and temples, the local community were warm and friendly. I offered some flowers that I had bought to the God Ganesh and was given some nuts in exchange by the man who looked after the temple.




After a good ride round and explore of the island I headed back through Panaji and onto Candolim Beach, this time with a towel and sun cream.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Arabian Beach shack, and had the service of the lads working there. I had Mixed Biryani, several beers and water, plus the use of a sunbed for 500 RPS. The sea was incredibly warm and clear. It was a great afternoon relaxing for the first time this trip.

Arabian Beach shack, Candolim, Goa



I headed back to Panaji, stopping at a small bar for a cool beer and then back across the ferry. I spotted a local in a Villa top! I had a chat with him and then  toured the streets of the town, to get my monies worth out of my tank of petrol.


Up The VILLA!




 I dropped the scooter back and showered back at the hotel. It’s my last evening in Panaji, so I packed and then went out to eat at a pure vegetarian restaurant called Vihar, as I walked there I could hear beautiful singing coming out of the window of a small, unassuming church in the town. I glanced through the window and was surprised to see a body of an Old man lying in the aisle. It was a family funeral and the old fella was having a nice send off.

My meal was good, Hurdi Thali and fresh orange juice. 180 RPS. I headed back full and glowing after the day’s hot sun. I’ve arranged for an Auto Rickshaw to take me to Karmali station at 8.00 AM for my train to Madgaon.

I got up, had breakfast and was out of my hotel at 8.00 am and my Rickshaw was there waiting for me. We got to Karmali station, but my train was delayed. It finally came at 10.45, but the wait wasn’t too bad as the view over the platform was good, the Chai was refreshing and I had Shantaram to keep me company. I caught my sleeper carriage which was nearly empty and had a good 1 hour  train journey to Madgaon.


Sleeper Class, Konkan Kanya Express





 The view out of the open windows was beautiful. There were fields, lakes, rivers trees and small villages. Huge waterbirds were taking off, an Eagle was gliding overhead, and a Wild boar was running through the trees. 

The train arrived an hour later, to quite a large station. I gave my backpack in to the luggage office for the day (15RPS), and hopped on the back of a motorbike taxi to take me to the centre of Margao.
It is a bustling market town, full of shops, people and thousands of scooters and bikes.


Madgaon





 I’ve got 6 hours to take in all the sites around before I need to get back to the station for my night train at 19.25. I  wandered the streets taking photos of the people, and soaking up the vibe. I went to the market and it was wierd to hear an Englebert Humpberdick CD playing from a music stall!

 I’ve now stopped off for lunch at a restaurant, called Venice gardens and had Chicken Xacuti and Chappati with a Kings beer. Cricket was on in the background and the score is India 114-2 against the Aussies. The food was very Hot so I needed an extra Kings beer to cool off! Very tasty and good service.











 I went for another walk round the town in the blazing heat, hottest so far, so gave in and returned to the bar. It was now 274-7 in the cricket. I cooled off under the ceiling fan.

I caught the motorbike taxi back to the station and collected my back pack. I had a few snacks, Samosas and Pakoras, and waited for the train. It was good people watching.













 My train, the Mangalore Lackshadweep Express to Kochi was over an hour and a half late for the 700Km journey south, but that seems the norm. The train came, and I found my berth, top bunk this time. The train journey was good and I got my 5 hours sleep.




Kerala


I woke to a fabulous sunrise over the South Indian countryside, a low mist was hanging in the fields as the orange sun started to glow. I watched sitting on the floor with my legs hanging out of the open door, I could have sat there all day.






The train had made up for lost time overnight and arrived at Ernakulum early. Ernakulum is the commercial and business part of Kochi, my guest house is in neighbouring Fort Kochi. I took an auto Rickshaw to a brilliant Homestay/guesthouse called Sajhome, my base for the next 5 days. I was given a warm welcome by Saj the owner and his 10 year old daughter Natasha, she was a gem and they all made me feel at home. I was served a delicious  Indian breakfast on the balcony, whilst my bags were taken to my room and I signed in. The room was very nice, and good Aircon. I think I will enjoy my stay here. I had a cold shower and went to see the sites of Fort Kochi.

Fort Kochi, Kerala












There were Churches, beaches and the famous Chinese fishing nets on the seashore. It was a good place to soak in the atmosphere of the nice laid back town.


I had lunch and Kingfisher at a bar/restaurant called Seagull. Another tasty curry, and nice cold beer.





 It’s very hot now, and the shade inside the bar was definitely needed.  I walked back to Sajhome full, and came across a film crew filming an Indian movie, crowds gathered as the male and female Stars preened themselves before filming. Filming began and I took photos of the scene.








I then went back to the cool refuge of Sajhome.

Had a cold shower and went out and walked the 10 minute walk to the fishing nets to catch the sun setting into the Arabian Sea. It is one of the best places I have come across for sunsets, the silhouettes of the nets against the glowing golden sun was incredible.









 A bit further up from the nets is Kochi beach, which was full of Indian families and couples and the odd Western face, all mesmerised by the sunset. Fires were been lit on the beach and the smoke added to the atmosphere.









 Behind the Fishing nets were fresh fish stalls were you could chose some fish to be cooked at a nearby restaurant.


I had a nice big Red Snapper and some huge Tiger Prawns for 500 RPS. These were cooked and served at the shack/restaurant behind the nets. They were delicious, cooked in Ginger and served with a Coconut Rice.

I then went to a Tabla and Sitar concert at the Kerala Kathakali Centre for an hour of superb music for 200 RPS. As I walked home in the darkness the sky was lit up by a distant thunderstorm. I got back to Sajhome, just as the rain came after another brilliant day in India.







Wow! What a day. I was awoken by Saj, knocking at my door at 6.00 AM. After getting dressed I had breakfast on the balcony and was then picked up my driver called Joy. We were off to Kodenad to an Elephant sanctuary on the river Pirayer. The journey took about an hour and half through towns and then onto villages. We passed loads of huge Churches and saw lines of pilgrims walking along the road side, each carrying a Crucifix on their shoulder, in preparation for Easter this weekend.
We arrived at the wide river and waited for the elephants to be bought down. Three elephants arrived with their trainers. It was sad to see them led down with chains around their huge feet.






 They were walked to the river and firstly they drank the water with their trunks, before lying down into the water for a good scrub down.









 It was a great sight, I wish I could have helped but at least  I was up close and in the water next to them.  It lasted about an hour and then we off to our next stop the Waterfalls at Athirappilly. On route I had a keralan breakfast of Masala Dhosa and Vada Pav and water (78 RPs) and we then stopped off on the banks of another river were people were bathing. I was offered some Brandy and Coke by a group of men who were laughing and singing in the river, they kept saying More, More More! So 3 Brandy’s Later I moved on!





We arrived at the waterfalls which were spectacular even though the Monsoons are still a month away. There were Monkeys in the Woods, and Butterflies fluttering about. It was like Paradise and you can see why they call Kerala Gods Own Country.












I finally got dropped back at Sajhome at 17.00, got showered and changed and went out for a meal at a Shack called Reggae Café and had a hot Curry of Red Snapper and Coconut rice and Sprite (420 RPs) and washed it down at Bar XL with a Kingfisher Beer (130 Rps).


 A great day out, tomorrow I have a lie in before going to my Houseboat tomorrow at 10.00 AM.


I got up at 8.00am and had my breakfast on the balcony at Sajhome, another perfect Keralan breakfast of Pineapple Lassi, Rice pancakes and a coconut curry sauce, oranges and chai. I left Sajhome at 10.00 am for the 50km drive to allepay on the backwaters.

 My Houseboat was there waiting, and was huge! A lovely sitting area with comfy chairs and a dining table, a great Ensuite double bedroom with aircon, a kitchen and the services of 2 crew.














 The captain Sunil and a Chef called Chandran. The boat left at 12.50 through a lake and down the backwaters. The scenery was perfect. Wild birds were fishing, people were fishing from the shore, Canoes were transporting fresh Mangos and I felt like I was in heaven!  We travelled along the backwaters with some Indian music playing that I had bought with me, and moored up at 1.30pm at a quiet spot, for lunch. I had Coconut cabbage, Ladies finger curry (Okra), Samba Dhal, Grilled freshwater fish, Mattan Rice and Poppadum’s, with some Honey bee Brandy that I had bought on route. The meal was the best I have ever eaten. So many flavours, you could taste every spice used, the cardamom, the Chilli’s, the Ginger, the whole thing was so intense.



 I feel like I have won the lottery with my friends Sunil and Chandran!  The heat was intense but a nice breeze was blowing through the deck. Can you get much better a lifestyle than this?
After lunch we were off again into the lakes and backwaters, the scenery was so peaceful. We passed kids playing cricket, men on boats bringing home their catch.






We moored up at 5.30pm for the night. The sun was still hovering in the sky, and the clouds were darkening. I bought some huge prawns that were to be cooked as part of my evening meal.  I went for a wander to take some photos of the setting sun.  I went back to the boat to do a spot of fishing off the side of the boat. I caught nothing which was a good job as the evening meal arrived, and was as tasty as lunch and there was enough to feed a family of 4! The wind picked up and the rice fields were swaying in the wind. The cloud were so dark, ready to unleash the rain. The storm came and was spectacular. My Honeybee Brandy was empty and I retired to bed as drunk as a sailor!





I woke up with a bit of a sore head at 07.00 AM, I showered and got dressed and was served breakfast on deck. Omelette, Toast, Bananas and coconut, and Chai. A good start as we set off across the lake back to where we started from. I thanked my 2 crew, who really looked after me. The food was delicious and going through the backwaters on my own houseboat was a great experience.


I was met by my driver to be taken back to Fort Kochi. Today is Holi, the Hindu festival of colours. As a rule it is not celebrated that much in South India, although there is a community of Northern Indians in a suburb near Jew Town in Fort Kochi. I have asked to me dropped off there so I can join in with the fun.

Happy Holi!!








We found the place in the grounds of a temple. Kids were running around with bags of brightly coloured powder, and were throwing it over each other, and at anyone close by. Others had water guns. The atmosphere was good, lots of laughter and lots of people covered in bright colours. I was covered in Greens, yellows and bright pink!



 I joined in the action, and watched the fun, taking photos.After a while  I walked outside, looking for a Rickshaw to take me back, but then came across some other celebrations unrelated to Holi. There was a crowd of people as some bare-chested young men lined up to have a 2 metre Metal spike pierced through their cheeks. Some looked anxious, but none showed much sign of pain.






















 After they had been spiked they went off and did a crazy dance to some beating drums. The drums were getting quicker and a brass band joined in. The atmosphere was so intense, with so much going on. Hundreds of people watched and I felt lucky to be there, a memorable sight. I bought a Lungi, a traditional dress worn by men in South India for 150 Rps. I might go all David Beckham and wear it out later!

I got my Rickshaw back to Sajhome, and checked in back to my room. My back pack was there ready, and my laundry had been cleaned and left folded on the bed. I showered and tried to remove the coloured paint on my face and in my hair. 2 showers later I still have Pink ears and green eyebrows!




I’m going to a Kathakali dance this evening (arranged by Saj), you can watch them get ready at 5pm. I went out at 2pm for a bite to eat at a cool trendy Art Café called Kashi for a light lunch, Chicken salad sandwich and lemonade with Ginger and Honey. There are some nice paintings and bronze sculptures in there, a good chillout place.

I wandered around for a bit, then made my way to Greenix village where the dance show was held. The performances were great. Lots of brightly coloured costumes and faces. The dances are all in the hand movements and facial expressions.






I ate at a restaurant on the way back home and was in bed by 9PM, after another crazy day in India!


I ate another delicious breakfast on the balcony, Masala Dhosa, Water Melon, Pineapple Lassi and Chai, and was off out  at 9.00 AM. I’d decided to go to Jew Town, another suburb of Fort Kochi, I got dropped off by a Rickshaw for 50 Rps and had a walk round, there was a synagogue – closed, Jewish cemetery, Dutch palace – didn’t look much like a palace now, and loads of antique shops.




The items inside them were impressive, ranging from old carvings of Hindu Gods, Christian items, Old furniture and even an enormous long boat.
The area didn’t really excite me so I walked back to Sajhome for a quick cold shower – It is REALLY hot and humid now. I went back towards the harbour and watched some lads play cricket on bit of parkland.







 The kids were friendly and wanted their picture taken. After I went to a quaint little tea/coffee shop called Teapot. I had a cup of filter coffee and a slice of chocolate cake 160 Rps and was delicious.


 Then went for a couple of beers at Bar XL before my cookery class at 2pm. My class was at Maria’s on Burgher Street (cost 600 Rps). I was joined by an Aussie and 2 German students. Maria was a good teacher and spoke good English. She went through the recipes explaining all the spices and ingredients that were to be used. Between us we made Chicken Masala, Veg Moilee, Veg Thoran, Dhal and Coriander Mint Chutney. We ate our meal at the end and it was delicious – how talented we are!







Still full I only managed some ice cream and a couple of fruit Juices out later that evening. It’s my last night in Fort Kochi, although I have a full day there still before my overnight train – The Ernakulun Orka Express tomorrow night at 8.10 PM.  I’m going to use the swimming pool at   the Grand Residence Hotel on Princess Street to Chillout for the day (500 Rps for use of pool and sunbeds)







I had Indian breakfast as usual on the balcony of Sajhome, packed my backpack and checked out. Saj has allowed me to leave my bags there for the day. I had a coffee at Teapot and then went to the Grande Residence to use the pool. It was quiet there and I was able to catch some sun and cool off in the pool. The heat is really intense in Kerala and very humid, so the pool was a good place to escape. I spent most of the day there. On the way back I got chatting to a Rickshaw driver, he had pimped up his Tuk Tuk and called it his little Ferrari!


I went back to Sajhome to pick my backpack up, and took a taxi to Ernakulum station, we went past churches on route that were packed because it was Good Friday.




 The station was busy as usual, I found  my spot on the platform,  were I sat and got eaten by the Mozzies! This journey I’m travelling Sleeper class which is a lot more basic than AC2 class and very cheap….392 RPs for a 15 hour 750 KM journey to Thivim.

Sleeper Class - My bed for the Night!


 It was actually ok, although my side lower berth was too short and the bed was hard, no pillows or blankets are provided. There was a friendly family in my section who were good to talk to, and I felt confident to leave my bag there when I went to the toilet.






Indian family








Goa

 Again it was nice to wake up to the sun rising on the train, and the countryside was breathtaking. I got to Thivim at about 12.30 PM and took a Tuk Tuk to Anjuna about 30 minutes away. We arrived at Vanilla Guest house, my base for the next 2 days. Very cheap 350 RPS a night (about £4!) It was comfortable and clean with Ensuite, so I  was pleased with my choice. I arranged with the owner to hire a scooter from a neighbour for 250 Rps a day, it’s the best way to explore North Goa. I headed to nearby Vagator about 10 Km away which had good views from the cliff top down to the Palm tree lined beaches.





 Both Anjuna and Vagator have loads of market stalls that sell Hippy clothes and crafts. I had a ride round the narrow lanes, passing cows wandering in the roads, and plenty of bars and restaurants. I had a few beers back at Anjuna at Guru to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean.

The next day I was up early and out on my scooter by 9.00AM, I headed to the other side of Anjuna to The German Bakery, a place recommended in Lonely Planet. Had a great breakfast there: Pancake with apple, Mushroom and Veg Omelette, Fruit Juice, Beetroot juice and a coffee. Delicious in a very calm, chilled out setting.


Back on the bike and I rode for 2 hours through  Vagator on to Chapora, across the river Chapora and found Mandrim. A beautiful beach with white sand and a lagoon fringed by palm trees, not many people here too.





It was great trip out and I covered over 60 miles. I went back to Vanilla and showered and packed my stuff away, and went back to Thivim station for my overnight Konkan Kanya Express train back to Mumbai. The train came on time and I found my carriage and seat. I’ve gone for the basic Sleeper class again, this time, side upper. The train was fairly quiet to start with, all was good.

 A few stops later more people got on, so I tried to make myself comfortable on my top berth. I slept for an hour or so with earplugs in, and awoke with the lights out. I couldn’t believe how many people were now on board. The train was packed to the brim. Men, women and children were sleeping on every available bit of floor space. I think I’m stuck up here for the night! There were lots of comings and goings and I didn’t get much more sleep. I felt like a refugee! Most of the people got off at a suburban station on the outskirts of Mumbai, so I was then able to get down and check that my chained backpack was still there and sort my things out. My train arrived at Mumbai CST at 06.15. I had 24 hours in Mumbai without a hotel!!

I left my backpack at the station for 16 Rps and caught at taxi to Colaba to have breakfast back at Café Mondegar - where my journey began all those days ago. I took a stoll up to the Gateway of India as the sun rose into the sky. The street families were stirring and everything was how I remembered it.

 Then it was back to Mumbai CST station to collect my bag and catch the local train to Vile Parle, a northern suburb of Mumbai, near to the airport and Jahu beach. The trains ran every 30 minutes and I watched the trains come and go, bringing and taking thousands of commuters to their destinations. I got my train at 10.30 for the 30 minute ride through 12 stations. The train was okay to start with, as we went through the different districts of Mumbai. Past Industrial areas, and through track side slums.









Then 5 stops later, it seemed like the whole of Mumbai had got on board. We were jammed in close together, and I had a big backpack and day bag to keep an eye on. People dived on the train at each station and it was really claustrophobic. The train remained packed and was a stampede at all of the stations. Not a journey I would like to do every day, but a worthwhile experience.

 I arrived at Vile Parle a nervous wreck and exhausted!  I caught a Tuk Tuk to Jahu beach to a hotel I had emailed before my journey. The Hotel Sea Princess was right on the seafront and you can use the pool and facilities there for 500 Rps. It was a very nice  5* hotel, with a good pool and sunbeds to relax on. I showered in the changing rooms and washed some of my clothes in there too! My first wash in 24 hours, I’m glad I chose to indulge in this luxury for my last hours in Mumbai. It was very, very hot there, and the pool was the only escape. The food and drink was expensive there, but it was my last day, so why not!

 There were loads of people on Jahu beach, families and couples, and groups of teenage lads walking up and down it. Not sure what was going on but it was very busy.







 I watched the sun go down for the last time from the hotel terrace area, then caught a Tuk Tuk to Mumbai International Airport.We must have had half a dozen "near misses" on the way to the airport, but I made it there in one piece.  I had 8 hours to wait before my 05.50 flight. They’re a strict bunch here, you can’t go into the airport until 4 hours before your flight, and you can’t go into the waiting areas until 6 hours before your flight. So I sat on the curb outside in the heat trying to stay awake!

A fantastic journey, very different to my trip to Northern India last year. Its a more laid back way of life in Goa and Kerala. The food has been fantastic, the locals friendly and its been great to take in the atmosphere and culture. I will be back!!

Please click on links below!

Last years Blog (Part 1) is available here

Euro-Rail Blog is available here

Istanbul Blog Here

Baltic Blog Here

Thailand Here

Hong Kong Here

Croatia Here

Nimes Here

#microadventure Here

London Here