Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Murky Mumbai

I managed to get a ticket down to Mumbai from Ahemabad. I recently found it you can check availability online, so I looked up the train and the news was not good, no seats for the next week!

It seems to be that the website doesn't include the quota set aside for foreigners though, so I was able to get a ticket anyway.

It was my first sleeper train, and while I didn't get much sleep it wasn't too bad a journey, however I did arrive at Mumbai feeling knackered and not in the mood for another big, noisy city. I think I slept most of the first day in Mumbai as I was feeling lethargic.

I felt better the next day and set off early to the train station to get a ticket to Goa.
The main backpacker area (i.e. where the cheaper hotels are) is called Colaba, it's actually a lot quiter than I expected in that area. I thought it would be like Pahar Ganj in Delhi, all hectic and full of touts, but not too bad, or maybe I'm getting used to waving away the touts.
After about an hour of wandering about I finally found the Victoria Terminus (VT) train station built by the British and now renamed CST. Very grand and ornate for a train station. Still when I got there I realised that I had forgotten my passport and so jumped in a taxi to the hotel and back. I then joined a queue of only about 6 people, but everybody seemed to behaving problems and taking 10 minutes each. I though I was going to have problems with the trains to Goa being fully booked up, but when I finally got to the front of the queue I got the train ticket in 2 minutes. Don't know why everybody else was taking so long.

I had decided just to head off that night down to Goa, so I only had the day to look about Mumbai. However despiting setting off at 08:00 it was lunchtime by the time I got my ticket. I decided to head across to Elephanta Island departing close to India Gate which took longer than expected to trundle through the murky Mumbai waters and so the afternoon was also gone.
Elephanta Island have rock cut caves which the scientists and historians don't seem to know to much about. I had a quick look about this strange place. It is mostly hindu gods that are carved, so if you can't tell your Krishna from your Shiva its all a bit of a mystery.
It has pillared halls and decorative animals.
Back at the bay, people lurked silhouetted in the muddy harbour.

My train for Goa set off at 23.00 and the 2nd class looks absolutely mobbed, not where I fancy being for an eleven hour train journey. You get guys approaching you asking to check your ticket. I was having none of that! They'd whip your ticket off you in a flash I reckon, not sure what good it would do them though. When the ticket man arrived he has a list of names to check the seats against.

I was in the upper berth this time, a bit less space than before, but at least there are straps at the side of the bed, to stop your tumbling out.

Finally I arrived in Goa, where I shared a taxi to Panaji. I stayed there a night, and then headed down to Anjuna beach where I am just now. I stayed for one night in the first guesthouse I found and then had a look about. I moved the next morning to a nice guesthouse on the beach. I think I'll be staying here for Christmas and New Year. I think it will be nice to be in one place for a while and not have to pack your bags and arrange tickets every few days, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm off go-karting this afternoon, there is about six of us, so we should have a good race.

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