15.07.2010 - 15.07.2010 33 °C
We awoke to have our first curry of the trip for breakfast, Oly seemed to enjoy it far more than I did, I found it bland and a bit tasteless. The two of us left the hotel with tour guide Salim as he was recommended to us by the hotel and the taxi driver. Salim promised us an all day sightseeing trip for 2000INR telling us the car was ours for the day and that they would take us to all the best sites in Mumbai.
We drove past slums and shacks on the sides of the road everywhere you go there is poverty. The streets are covered with rubbish and filth, nothing is clean here.
The car stopped outside a “feed the poor restaurant” where people (all men) sit outside in front of an eating house in rows like school children and wait for passersby to give money to the “maître Dee” styled man. Once an exchange of money has been passed the front row of men get up and enter the restaurant where they will then be fed. The rest of the men all shuffle forward whilst a new row of people form at the back.
Our guide Salim got us some beers, so that he felt (we know now) he could carry on drinking in front of us. We were unaware in the beginning but we could tell he had been drinking all day.
Our guide showed us the airport we flew into....the domestic airport close by, a 5* hotel, a 7* hotel and a water tower before we asked him to show us the slums. I think he thought we would be impressed somehow at expensive things.
We saw a church which had a statue which was filled with gold although the outside was made from stone and also a beach where the locals flocked to, probably one of the dirtiest places I have ever been.
We travelled with Salim and Ali to the Gate of India, which sits at the southern point of Mumbai. While here we saw the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel (the one which Islamist extremists set fire to in 2008 where over three hundred people died).
While here Hepzi decided she needed to go to the loo and what better place to go than the Taj Mahal Hotel. We decided we would try to get in and after making our way through to the security we headed to the toilets which were bigger than the Hotel we were staying in. There was marble and gold plate everywhere and the differences between the street outside and the glamour and luxury of the hotel were so very different, yet in such a close proximity to each other. The divides here are extremely hard to comprehend, however people in general seem happy.
While in the hotel we headed to the residents only tea lounge which looked out across the Bay and paid 2000 INR for an all you could eat buffet and with as much tea and coffee as we liked. The food was awesome and although we were massively out of place, sitting in shorts and tea shirts while business men and what looked like Arab princes sat and ate next to us, we had a great lunch and enjoyed the experience a lot.
We left the Taj Hotel and started to head home through the busy streets, dodging cars, rick shows, pedestrians, horses, goats... you name it. Unfortunately on the way home Salim showed his true colours and tried to charge us an extra 1200 INR to return to our hotel. This pissed me off as we were already going to pay a little extra to say thank you for a somewhat fun, entertaining and eventful day in Mumbai.
In the end our driver being so embarrassed of his friend Salims attitude, he told Salim to get a train home and basically threw him out of the car, which was a relief for me as I couldn’t have handled much more of him.
We travelled home and said thanks to our Driver Ali, who offered to be our driver for the next few days should we need him. He also offered us to go to dinner with him. However after Salim, I’m unsure whether his kindness is just part of a facade to extort money from travellers. I think we are going to move from Mumbai tomorrow so won’t have time anyway; we’ll just hope and try to believe his intentions were honest.
Right, time to go all, its 12:10 and its early doors tomorrow as we travel to Nasik. Good Night! x