A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about hot

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.


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!




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


My little Chinese friend on the train chatted away to me for most of the evening via Google Translate. It was a howl. I told him via miming, pictures and my app, that I was going to Chengdu to see the pandas.
He asked me: ''Do you know many pandas in Chengdu?''
bwahahahahhahahahahaah - I fell around the place for ages.

Later he asked me ''Are you the man?'', which was obviously not AS funny. ;)

Then later again ''Do you know how to ride?''... hmmmmm... :D
Gas craic altogether. The poor fella was crippled in one leg, but was still clambering up and down from the top bunk and insisted on escorting me to the metro station in the morning. What a nice chap! He emailed me later in the day and I mailed him back. Friends Forever! I've also inspired him to travel as he thinks I'm very brave. :D awwwwwww

So I found my way to the hostel in Chengdu - Traffic Inn - it was hella cool. So big and had lovely couches, amazing staff, funky decor, wifi, Swiss breakfasts, hot showers, super clean dorms and movies. It was fabulous.

I only just sat down to eat my Swiss breakfast when I got talking to a lovely Swedish filmmaker chap called Michel. Himself and his friend Victor were both from Stockholm and were out for 3 months travelling mostly overland. Sweden - Russia - China - Mongolia - Japan. We yapped away for ages and I mentioned that I'd like to go and see the Big Buddha in LeShan and would the like to come? He went to wake Victor and Victor joined us. Unfortunately upon investigating the option, the receptionist said we wouldn't have enough time to do it today as it was a 2.5 hour journey to get there and you'd need a few hours there at least. So we decided we'd do both the pandas and the big Buddha tomorrow.

We sat there yapping away and laughing - the two guys have excellent English - as do all the Swedish people I've met. The lads were great craic and had funny tales of their couchsurfing adventures. Later this very tall UK dude sat beside us and stared at us. I think he was waiting for an invitation to chat so I started talking to him. He'd been working as an English teacher in Shanghai for 2 months, but had had his contract terminated because the kids found his lessons too boring. Ouch! HARSH. Also I thought it was a bit weird to confess this information to people the minute you met them. Although I did ask why I suppose. ..
As we yapped he just got funnier. He told us he had also fallen down the gap between the train and the platform while he had been rushing to get the train, and only for his big backpack on his back had wedged him stuck, he would have gone underneath the train. I dunno why, but I thought this was the funniest thing every. I could just picture him stuck there, legs dangling away.. :D

Anyway since our trip to the Big Buddha was postponed, I decided to go and have a look at the People's Park and I suggested the lads visit Wenshu Temple and we'd meet up later for dinner. So off I went on the bus to the park. It was lovely, lots of plants, trees, people doing awesome aerobics, old people sitting around, monks feeding giant goldfish and pretty teahouses.


But it was very very humid. It was pretty uncomforatble after a while so I went trundling off into the city and wen to Tiansu Square to see the Big Mao statue and eat McDonalds. I know - the shame!!

I was so hungry though and just wanted something to bite into. Back at the hostel, weird UK dude sat down beside me and eyed me weirdly, so I made my excuses and escaped. Not before he told me he was off to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge in a few days if I was interested in travelling together. But then he said most people hate his style of travel.. which was (I did ask) to leave everything until the last minute.. hmmmmm. Yeah. LET'S DEFO TRAVEL TOGETHER. I LOVE THAT STYLE OF SHIT! ;) hahhahaaahahahaha
I legged it.

Later I met Michel and Victor for a stroll about town to find a hotpot place. A hotpot is basically when they bring out a big bowl of spicy peppers in hot liquid, inside another larger bowl of bubbling stock liquid. It goes on a flame in the middle of the table. Then they bring out vegetables, meat, fish, whatever and you dip the food into whichever liquid you like to cook it. I thought it sounded like a recipe for food poisoning at first, but was interested to try it out. We found a place with menus in Chinese and ordered what we thought was chicken, beef and vegetables. But out came a whole fish, a plate of worms and carpaccio of beef. We kept the beef but sent the others back. What we got was delicious though and we had great fun with it.


On the way home we found the cool alleyways with lots of traditional Chinese housing with gorgeous lanterns and lights everywhere. It pissed rain soonafter and we got soaked. The girls in my dorm were asleep when I got home so I had to rustle around in the dark. A mosquito buzzed around my head all night and I dreamt I could talk to mosquitos through a drinking glass....

Posted by squeakylee 02:39 Archived in China Tagged park hot chengdu pot people's weirdo Comments (0)

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Aww - I'd LOVE to see a tiger... ehhhhh

sunny 34 °C

Today the four of us bussed it to Jane's Guesthouse at the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the World's deepest gorges and the mighty Yangzi river crashes through it below. If you go to Yunan province, apparently you can't miss this trek. The gorge runs between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (5596m) and Haba Snow mountain (5791) and extends over 15km. Locals say that it gets so narrow at 1 point, that a tiger leapt from one bank to another.

Jane's guesthouse was at the entrance to the trek, but it didn't seem like Jane or anyone else had been around for a while. It seemed quite dingy and empty - but never the less we sat down and ordered some grub off a guy who's ear seemed to be leaking - he had his finger stuck in it for quite some time!
The food and dorms were grand, however there was a couple sharing our dorm who slept in the one bed and were constantly making slurpy noises, or trying to get it on. Jeez lads - it's not that expensive - GET A ROOM!. It was quite disturbing and Chen moved to the outer room as he was too close to the slurping. We had a great laugh that night showing each other comedy clips on youtube - my own particular choice was Father Ted. (as ye do!)



We set off at about 9.30am and it was already feckin roastin'. I hung out at the back of the group - A) for some peace and quiet and non-fact related-updates and B) cos I was slower than the lads. The lads powered ahead and waited for me every now and then. My legs felt like lead and to be honest I didn't even think I could do the whole thing and we hadn't even gotten to the ''agonizing 28 bends'' yet. Good Jaysus.


We veered off the track at the start and a local lady put us right. A lot of the locals in the area set up little viewing spots along the trek and try to charge foreigners to take pictures from them. We came across this old woman selling bananas at this lovely little viewing spot. She wanted us to buy some bananas in exchange for taking pictures. Myself and Stef bought some bananas but the other two lads didn't want any. They were taking pictures. We didn't as we were too busy stuffing our faces with banana. The auld dear went mad at the fact that the two lads were taking pictures without a banana purchase! We tried to explain that they were actually taking pictures with our cameras but alas she wanted none of that shite. She cursed Joao half way up the mountains, hoping his ''babies would be born without assholes''. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Harsh.


We pushed on, the old woman's curses echoing up the mountain. It was an absolutely beautiful day with clear blue skies. Once again we were so lucky with the weather, the views were amazing. The going was tough for me but all the lads seemed grand. (I'm getting weedier I think during this travelling lark - need to get back doing some proper exercise and yoga! )
Just before the 28 bends we stopped for a rest. The bends themselves weren't actually that bad - (I thought the start was tougher) - we were rewarded with awesome views of the mountains around and the gorge below. We stopped at 3pm at the Tea Horse for lunch and then trundled on afterwards passing goats, beautiful mountain scenery and lovely waterfalls.

. 9140434217_1cb4a95ffb.jpg9142833646_faff394f5d.jpg9140612855_8b9dca8301.jpg9140613061_9c5ec726d3.jpg

After a few more hours of trekking, we reached the Halfway House Hostel, which was full of lots of other tourists. We met a few funny American/UK girls there, a lovely Irish couple, the same American lads we kept bumping into everywhere, an Oz/NZ couple, and another few people from the UK. There was a great auld buzz in the place and we all sat down on the roof which had spectacular views. We ordered a load of food and then had many beers under the millions of stars twinkling above. The four of us were the last to bed as per usual. During the night I heard one of the American lads leaping out of the bunk bed to go and puke over the balcony outside. UH OH. I was selfishly relieved that he hadn't eaten dinner with us. The thought of all 10 of us in the room having to follow him out to puke off the balcony was a little unsettling, if still hilarious!



The next day, we set off after breakfast and trekked for another few hours. It was another gorgeous day and the scenery was amazing. The toughest bit of the day was going right down into the gorge to the river to see the stone the tiger apparently leapt on. It took us an hour to get down these huge, higgeldy piggeldy steps to the river, but it was worth it. The river was bonkers violent and I questioned the ability of any tiger to be able to jump across without falling in. To which Stefan replied ''It's just a story.''.
Aww. :(

Going down was bad, going back up was even worse. It was torturous. I was soaked in sweat. It was SO HOT. (You would think I'd be a skinny minnie after all this going up and down steps and what not, but I keep drinking too much beer with the lads. :D) I probably wouldn't have had so many beers last night if I'd known this was in store for us today. I thought it would be a quick hop, skip and a jump down to the stone and back up again.


Anywho we made it to the top finally. I looked like I'd been in for a swim in the river - everything I was wearing was soaked. I had a shower and some noodles in Tina's guesthouse and felt a bit better.
There had been a landslide on the mountain nearby and the road we needed to take to Shangri La was blocked so we all had to be driven to the landslide by mini bus, wait on one side til the drilling and construction work stopped, then walk to the other side to get the bus. Some of the guys who had left Tina's agggges before us, were still standing around in the heat of the day waiting to pass. Sickener!


Getting the right people on the right bus seemed to be an impossibility for the lads who were organising the buses. It was like a bad sitcom. As soon as two new lads got on our bus, all our ticets had to be checked again and again before two other people were kciked offf. This went on for about 20 minutes! :D Eventually it was off on the road to Shangri La. Our group now included the 3 lovely American/UK ladies and the four of us.

Great people, non stop laughing, beautiful weather and epic mountain scenery!


Posted by squeakylee 06:35 Archived in China Tagged bus stone hot tiger gorge 28 leaping janes tinas bends Comments (0)


It's too hot and humid to do anything...

overcast 37 °C

Today I went to the mall for a bit of cool air. Then I sat around, sweated and chatted to 2 Swedish lads. They looked very like the last 2 Swedish lads I met, plus they had taken the same overland route as the other 2 Swedes - Russia, Mongolia, China etc. Must be a regular Swedish trip.

Later I felt a bit ronery so rang John S to see how he was doing and had a great auld waffle. He riled me up no end and I went back into the hostel bar and ended up playing drinking / card games with 4 lovely US people and 1 realllly racist 21 year old plump chick from the UK. (Good lord love - tone it down a bit - you've been here wayyy tooo long. Go back home there to your fish n' chips!) (That's probably not fair, but she was a d*ckhead.)
Got drunk with the lads. Had a blast. :)

Posted by squeakylee 02:55 Archived in China Tagged hot guilin too handle Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]