A Travellerspoint blog

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Goa part 3

Ciao for now Goa - see you when I'm in my late 60s, Shirley Valentine Schtyle..

sunny 34 °C

Had a bit of a headache the next day so found John and went to Cuba for a curer and some more chilling.

Later, myself and Corey decided to go see sunset on Monkey BEach, which was right at the end of our beach and across a bit of the sea. You have to swim across to the next part of the beach to reach Jo Jo's environmentally friendly beach resort. (aka more shackS).
So off we went. The water was only waist high on Corey but I had to doggy paddle across. haha. STraight out of the shower and into the sea with all my clothes on. lol. Had to hand my bag with my camera in it to Corey so it didn't fall in. arrggh. Great craic. Once we got through the water, there was another load of rocks and bits n bobs to climb over, but the sunset we saw made the wet pants totally worth it! It was spectacular. Red purple and orange amazingness. We had a quick tipple watching it set, sitting on this lovely stone wall specially built for watching sun rise and sun set. Jo Jo's gaf was all eco friendly and he was quite chuffed with himself to tell us it was solar powered and the floor was made of mud and cow shit! :) We had to swim back before it got too dark so didn't get to stay as long as we wanted but it was awesome.

Met John for some grub at the nest and we had a couple of drinks. I decided not to drink too much as I was heading off on my own the next day to Mumbai and I didn't want to have the fear whilst travelling on my todd.
Yeah Right.
Cut to 3 hours later, Lisa and John drinking our heads off with a load of local lads, a Swedish dude and his friend Tina Arena with a wonky eye. The tanned old bird from There's Something About Mary was also there. It was a howl. The Swede tricked the Indians with some bar trick, then John tried to teach the lads (who were getting drunker and drunker)a few bar tricks himself. The lads were langered and couldn't get it right at all. MEanwhile I'm banging out the choons on the sound system at the bar. Think I even played one from Take That's Ultimate Collection.

So obviously I am dying the next morning and I had an iffy stomach, the fear of bejaysus and the sweats. On top of that I had to get my stuff together and get ready to face my first sleeper train on my todd. My train place hadn't been confirmed so I didn't even know if I could go yet

can't take any more of this keyboard.. later.

and continue:

so I had the fear anyways but got myself together and got ready to face my first overnight sleeper train on my own. I joined the lads at the nest for a curer and to say my goodbyes, had some food and set off on my way. At the train station, met two young ladies from Engerland who I yapped to for a while. They were lovely and seemed very together and intelligent - chatting about art and issues. They made me feel like the right young wan of the group! Unfortunately they were in another carriage to me so I had to bunk in a carriage with a lovely family. BUT, they got off at the next stop and this other mad family got on, lovely wife, lovely kids - we spent time looking at pictures and singing Twinkle Twinkle little star! But they had a weirdo dad. Burped, coughed and snored allllll night. I got bog all sleep. The next day he wanted photos with me and was asking his wife to take them - it was weird! I smiled for a photo, then legged it into the next carriage and on to Mumbai!

Posted by squeakylee 16:59 Archived in India Tagged train goa sleeper Comments (0)

Mumbai

Bombay & Mumbai = Bumbay.

sunny 32 °C

The train station in Mumbai was intense! Flies, wee, tons and tons of people saying 'taxi madam?'. I'd agreed to meet the two UK ladies at the station - Abbey & Tara, and this other guy Tim was there too. So met them and along with this nutty Israeli woman, we argued with a few taxi drivers (I didn't! she did), on the price of a taxi into town. So got this one mad dude who was mental loud and seemed a bit agressive! The three of us in the back just nodded and said 'yup' every now and then as he waffled away VERY LOUDLY. We were too knackered to reply or waffle back.

We had a stroke of luck just rocking up to the Sea Shore Hotel and getting two rooms! My attempts to just rock up to anywhere \ any trains etc up until now have not been uber successful, so I was surprised to see that a hotel I actually wanted to stay in had a room. HUZZAH!
After a wash, we strolled down to the Gateway of India which was pretty cool. There were a ton of lads and lassies selling stuff down there, giant balloons (wtf?), knick knacks, pictures, boat rides etc. Saw the TAj Mahel Hotel which looked fierce fancy. The girls headed back to the hotel, while I went shopping BIG STYLE! Went mad so I did buying shite. I needed new flip flops and sunglasses as the others were destroyed after Goa. (I'm on my 3rd pair of sunglasses so far this trip. That's nearly 1 pair a week!! Glad I didn't buy those real Ray Bans now. ) Bought a fierce trendy top too to fit in with my new hippie ensemble. It consists of swampy jocks, hairband, prayer beads and a sequined bag and sequined shoes. Plus I'm reading Shantaram. (which is very interesting, except for the parts where they go into discussing philosophy..yawnnn)

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Later on I had a hot date with a donut. WILD. The other ladies weren't up for going out as they were knackered and it's not really fun strolling around Mumbai at night on your todd. The room was sooo hot though - just sat there in my pantaloons letting the fan blow the extremely warm air round and round and round and round.. Rab C Kenny.

Posted by squeakylee 14:11 Archived in India Tagged mumbai Comments (0)

In the slummer time, when the weather is hot..

sunny 35 °C

So I was wondering if a trip to the slums was a bit invasive and if it would feel a bit weird peeping in at those who live in Dharevi, but the tour we decided on is led by guides who live in the slums and 80% of all post tax profit goes back to the slums, funding a kindergarten and soft skills classes for youths (English, interview skills, computers etc). So we felt good about our choice of tour.

We met our first contact dude, Akbash, at the station and he led us on to the sub way and to the meeting point. Akbash, as a kid, got lost in the slums during the 1992 slum riots between Hindus and Muslims. 900 people were killed in the riots and his parents must have been killed. So he was adopted by a Hindu family from Dharevi and grew up in the slums.

Side note (Everyone in India seems to have a very bad cough - as I write this, a family are hacking away beside me)

Anywho, so Akbash lives in the slums and is super famous here as a B Boy and break dancer etc. He teaches dance classes to the local lads and apparently he's been in loads of filums aswell.

Side note: (I have been interrupted by a young Mumbai lad who thinks I should hang out here with him in Mombai for a few extra days as ''Life is being like a box of Chocolates and you never know what you are going to get.'' I chatted away but politely declined his offer of the ''best two days of your life''.. I didn't want to tell him that usually, in boxes of chocolates, you get a list of what chocolates are in the box and what they contain.. ;)

Anywho back to the slums. We met our guide Nano who was very lovely. He started every sentence with ''friends, please be....''. He lived in the slums himself and he explained to me that the people in Dharevi are fine with visitors that are on the Reality Gives tour, as they know some money comes back to the slums. Reality Tours also have a 'no photos' policy and the slum dwellers like this . Previously, some journalists had visited the slums, taken some photos and reported negatively on them, which the Dharevi people didn't like at all at all. So now, no pictures are allowed in Dharevi.

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Dharevi is the richest slum in India. It's like its own city within Mumbai. It has its own electricity, water (3 hours per day only), and rules. The houses are made of stone and steel and most have nice tiled floors, fridges, tvs, cookers etc. The space inside the houses is small and the alleyways between the houses are so narrow that only 1 person at a time can walk through them. You have to mind your head and your feet at the same time, to avoid walking into bits of steel roof sticking out at head level, and open drains at feet level. It sounds bad but to be honest, apart from the big garbage heap (which they leave there purposely so no one will build on the land underneath it), the slums seemed a lot cleaner and less smelly than other parts of India!

Now for some details - skip this if you're easily bored.

Nano first brought us to the commercial bit where they recycle plastic and aluminium paint cans, and make soap and leather jacks and bags. This is honestly the second place in India where I've actually seen any men do any work. Seriously the lads in India seem to just hang sround all day drinking chai. The first load of lads i saw working was at the Tea Plantation. Here too the lads were hard at it, separating bits of plastic into colours where it gets chopped, washed, dried and melted into long strands of plastic again. Then it's chopped into tiny pellets and sold to manufacturers. Nano was a fantastic guide. He really knew a lot about all the slums businesses. He said the turnover of Dharevi was 1 MILLION DOLLARS (USD) per year, but they pretend it's only 665,000 a year to the government for tax purposes! ;) A lot of rich Indians live in the slums so they won't be suspected of being rich and can avoid paying ginormous taxes. So hence the few big cars and A\C gafs we saw in Dharevi.

On we went and saw the lads recycling the oil / paint cans. They're cleaned, set on fire to burn off any excess paint or fuel, banged back into shape, painted brown and sent to the manufacturers to be refilled and branded. None of the lads here were wearing any safety equipment! Nano said it was provided for them but it makes their work a lot slower. Seeing as how they have a quota to fill everyday, they'd rather not use the equipment and finish work earlier. Bonza! However, the average age of a worker here is only 55 due to the dangers involved and toxic fumes.

On we went again and saw the lads and ladies making the leather handbags. They only use buffalo, sheep and goat skin. (oh that's alright then). Then once the skin is cleaned and flattened, fake crocodile/snake textures are added to it.

Onto the residential bit, which was much cooler (temperature wise) as all the houses are extremely close together and all the alleys were shaded. Over 1million people live here in 1.75square kilometres of land. 20 times more people than in your average sq km of India!! Good Jaysus!
We saw the auld dears making poppadoms to sell at the local market. I saw a dead rat on the side of the path on the way, but I think that was the worst thing I saw really. It wasn't as bad as we expected and I think this tour does go a long way towards dispelling the negative press slums get. However, Dharevi slum is pretty well off and there are worse slums that have no electricity/supplied water/stone walls etc.

Nano showed us the kindergarten which was full of chanting kids and was very cute. Then brought us to the Reality Gives Centre where there were some English lessons going on. Then we crossed the river (slash sewer that runs into the ARabian sea. If you are ever in Mumbai - do not swim at Chowpatty Beach. Actually if ye want my advice, avoid the ARabian sea altogether. It sounds exotic, but it is toxic! Ye can't spell exotic without toxic!! ) (Ten rupees please for that advice).

Across the water, (ahem) we saw the potters area - where pots are made funnily enough. Pots and Pots of Pots.
After this awesome tour which I highly recommend (Reality Tours and Travels - google it), we hit Leopolds Cafe in Colaba - the cafe featured in much of the book Shantaram. Which I am reading at the moment - it is fierce good and is pretty fun to see some of the places that feature in it. The language in it is a bit fanciful however for my liking. Describing eyes like pools of azure water and what not.. GHEY! ;) Leopolds was packed full of tourists and Indians so I thought it would be ok to have a chicken dish. Pffft - my tummy disagreed the next day. Back to the veggie options for me! Later we stayed in again with donuts. The UK ladies are very budget conscious and a bit tooooo sensible for me. They not interested in beer (at 19??? WTF??) or going for a nice dinner in Mumbai. I wandered about the town for a bit but wouldn't really pop into a bar on my tood so donuts and coffee it was. TBH After the boozefest that was Goa, it's probably the best for a while!

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Posted by squeakylee 11:17 Archived in India Tagged hot mumbai dharevi Comments (0)

Aurang(utan)abad

sunny 33 °C

There's some Russian dude yapping on Skype beside me, while two UK birds agree on taxi details to the side of me, so I can't really concentrate! The Indian dude who owns the joint has given me a free chai though! :)

So this will be difficult.. Anywho, after a delicious Frappucino in Starbucks, (ahem) i left the lovely (but roasting) Sea Shore Hotel in Mumbai and got a taxi to Dadar for my train to Aurangabad! The train was quite delightful. I had a window seat and really had a pleasant journey listening to my Glastonbury 2011 playlist and doing crosswords. Got to Aurangabad about 8.30 and got a taxi to my hotel, which was actually about 3 mins walk from the train station. lolz . John (of Goa fame) had told me that Corey was in AB at the moment, so I dropped him a text and met up with him for some grub and a catch up and a beer! He'd already been at the Ellora caves and the Ajanta Caves. This is the only reason that anyone would be in Aurangabad - to put it politely, it has not got much to offer the average traveller. Corey had had a party day with Johnboy in Goa and then decided to hit the road and see the caves. He said the Ellora caves were awesome and that if I saw Ellora, I'd have seen the best of both Ellora and Ajanta as Ajanta were simpler caves. As Ajanta was 3 hours drive there and back I decided to do Ellora first and see if I fancied more caves the day after. Plus Ajanta is closed on Mondays! :D

So I enquired with Classic Tours to see if they had any spaces available for the bus trip to Ellora the next day, but to my dismay, they said 'no available'. I took this to mean, the bus was jammers and asked if I could turn up in the morning and see if anyone else doesn't turn up. But he said, 'no madam - there is no people booked for tomorrow and we cannot go with one person'. Basically seems like I'm the only tourist in AB. This was compounded in my mind as I walked back from the agency, when a tuk tuk slowed down while passing me so the lads in the back could take a photo of me. LOL. This photo taking business is getting boring!
Anywho at dinner, Corey said he was rushed through Ellora due to an auld German lady and old man in the car that he went in, so he was up for coming to Ellora again with me. Which was cool!

So off we went in a car with a driver that had absolutely not one sausage of English. It was hard work! We stopped at Daulatabad Fort and climbed up to the top, which took us about an hour. It was an awesome trip to the top with great views and plenty of people asking Corey for pictures instead of me. Corey is blonde and looks a bit like Thor. :D he he. AFter a while, we had to start saying no to photos as we were getting nowhere. That didn't stop people though who just posed near us while their friends sneakily took pictures of us and not the rocks/view. :D

After the Fort we continued on to Ellora. There were 32 caves there, 12 simple Buddhist caves, 16 super duper extra-extravagant Hindu caves and a few Jain caves at the other end. The main Kailesha cave was the most impressive and it really took my breath away. It was all carved down out of one rock!!! It took 7000 people 200 years to build it. (probably not the same 7000 people). Anywho it was amazing.

i'll insert some pics here later.

After a hard days caving, we went for dinner and a beer or two. MEt a German lady with two kids. We had seen her at the caves carrying a backpack and a kid in each arm in the sweltering heat! Impressive. We chatted away and heard that her poor husband had been sick as a dog and was stuck in the hotel room while she had to continue on sightseeing with the kids. Iron lady.

Anywho - said Goodbye to Corey as he was heading to Panaji to meet Johnboy to celebrate Holi festival together.

The next day I posted the tat id bought in Mumbai home. It took an hour and a half to get the parcel ready to post! it had to be packed in a box and sewn up together by a tailor, then sealed with wax seals all over it before it could be posted. Mam - take a picture of it when it arrives! eh I mean, IF it arrives.
After this hectic morning, I had a nap, then hung out in the rooftop restaurant chatting to a lovely couple Lydia and Tim, discussing bathrooms and cleanliness in general.

Got about 2 hours kip as was worrying I wouldn't wake up in time for the train. lol. Anyways got up at 5 and ran down the road to get a train back to Mumbai. Spent the rest of the day in Mumbai airport which was bliss. Air con, toilet roll, soap, magazines, coffee, nobody selling me anything - bliss. ;)

Posted by squeakylee 10:37 Archived in India Tagged ellora aurangabad Comments (0)

Elephanta Island - Mumbai

Be sure to keep your Elephanta clean

This morning, despite my dicky tummy, we went on the ferry to Elephanta Island. We saw some good caves there with fancy carvings. Th e3 headed Shiva was ace. The girls were reading me the stoires from the guidebook but I tuned out after a while as it all seems like nonsense to me. Shiva fights this demon fella, who's blood drops turn into more demons. Shiva did however have his own assistant dwarf and one of them looked like he was doing Gangnam Style poses.

AFter the ferry I bought some more tat for presents and forgot it was Sunday so will have to now carry it with me all the way further into India to Aurangabad. ha!

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Posted by squeakylee 16:59 Archived in India Comments (0)

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