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Backpacker grapevine

July 31st, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 02-India - (6 Comments)

“Bumper-to-bumper with budget accommodation and a seedy reputation for drugs and dodgy characters, Paharganj is the backpacker grapevine” (Lonely Planet).

We had an amazing day walking around the Main Bazaar yesterday ,  a metropolis of shops and stalls in the centre of New Delhi.  We haggled and laughed for most of the day.  It’s embarrassingly cheap – our accommodation (with a/c) is £3 each per night and in a reasonable hotel – that includes breakfast and 1hr internet, but you have to buy the toilet roll :-).  Sam bought a beautiful hand stitched shoulder bag for the equivalent of £2.50. A glass bottle of Coca Cola is around 12p.

Not sure what you’ll make of the photos but walking around is a surreal experience – we can’t wait to go out again today.  Although, as I write this, it is shitting it down with rain. Tomorrow we will hire a car and visit many of the temples and museums etc.

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The sleepless train

July 30th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 02-India - (2 Comments)

After hours of waiting in the hotel lobby watching the downpour, we made our way to Mumbai Central for our journey to Delhi.  We were a little anxious having read in the local papers that this station was on high alert and was a potential target for the terrorists.  We felt a little at ease having seen the sheer numbers and professionalism of security/police on hand – sniffer dogs everywhere. I was shouted at for taking photos, oops!

I won’t write much and just let the photos speak for themselves.  It might look like a prison, but was it actually very comfortable.  We were on the top bunks, just under the air con – too cold.  The 17hrs seem to pass reasonably  quickly. We didn’t get much sleep, maybe a couple of ours tops.  Nonetheless, it was a great experience and we’d do again in a heartbeat. This is the normal mode of transport for the average Indian between major cities, so it was great to experience it.

When we got off our a/c carriage it was 38 degrees, a blessing from heaven. The glum faces we had become accustomed to in Mumbai were short lived.  We got the usual ‘tha otel no gud, i got guud otel for u madam, cheap’ – we had learned our lesson.

When we got to our hotel an hour ago we were very excited.  We are in the centre of the bazaar area, which appears to be the happening place.  Enough for now, you will see some great photos from here on in – yippppp eeeeeee!

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Toilet anyone

July 29th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 02-India - (4 Comments)

This is our last memory of Hotel Mamamas in Mumbai.  This is the standard of toilet in the hotel lobby – no number two’s then!  I can’t see Sam hovering, can you?  Thankfully, our room had a standard bowl. In saying that, I did have a painful experience on our room toilet which I won’t go into – all I’ll say is – it still hurts :-(.  Such facilities will become commonplace as we travel further afield, I guess.

We though it was funny, and to pass the time, we though we’d share it with you :-)

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Rain rain go away

July 29th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 02-India - (5 Comments)

Sorry everybody, absolutely nothing to report at this present time.  We’ve been in Mumbai for three days and we’ve done jack shit. We were really looking forward to visiting Elephant Island yesterday but, due to the severe rain and wind, the ferry was closed.

We decided to cut our time here short and head straight for Delhi and hope the weather is better. We have our sleeper train booked and leave today at 17:40 for the 17 hour trip. It might sound a mad journey to you guys back home, but we are really looking forward to it – hopefully, we will get our first decent nights sleep. We need to get out of here and explore a bit more.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, the camera would get ruined if we took it out.  We have taken a few shots in between the downpours, but this is rare. My work colleague Richi, who’s dad was born in Mumbai, emailed and asked if we could send him some pictures – sorry dude, we have none bar the few detailed below.

Ironically, the day we are leaving, the weather has picked up somewhat.  I’m sitting in the hotel lounge at 9am looking out at a bright clear day – Sam is still in bed!  We think Mumbai would be a great place to visit out of the monsoon.  The people are friendly and helpful and at no point have we ever felt unsafe – lets hope Delhi is similar.

We have found a place of solace in Mondy’s Bar in the centre of Colaba. This is the meeting place for backpackers. Last night we had a couple of pitchers of beer and chanted to several people.  Most are also getting out of town. Our accommodation in Delhi has an internet connection, so daily posts should resume.

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The Indian monsoon

July 27th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 02-India - (3 Comments)

You guessed it, its raining here and it hasn’t let up since we arrived.  It’s strange coming from 40 degreed in Cairo to a wet and damp Mumbai.  We changed our hotel/hostel today and it’s not much better, I guess that’s the standard of cheap accommodation here.

Our new lodgings are reasonable and a short distance from the city centre, but stink of dampness.  We have been soaked several times having walked around parts of the city.  We went to a cool bar today and had a few beers and met a few other travellers.  Sorry, for the lack of photos so far, we haven’t taken our camera with us.  Having spent some time in this area, we feel a lot safer and the hotel staff are very accommodating.   

We were awoken at some godly hour last night by the police knocking on our door. Because of the recent bombings, which I’m sure you’ve heard about, they were searching every hotel in the area.  They were quite pleasant and only wanted to see our passports.

We were going to visit Elephant island today but, with the rain so bad, decided to give it a miss. In fact, there is not a lot to do here in Mumbai in the rain, so we are thinking we might head straight up to Delhi on Tuesday where the weather is somewhat better.  We probably won’t post for a few days as we’ll be on a train for 17–28 hrs and we have to visit an internet cafe to upload – this hotel falsely advertised and internet connection.

A picture to show you just how bad the rain is and us using the room facilities as a laundry service :-)  We are really struggling to keep our clothes dry.

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