Wednesday, November 18, 2009
What a happening city. This is a place like no where else in India (or anywhere we've been to yet). The city seems 10X more developed and organized than Delhi, and there aren't cows parading around.
The place we stayed, Colaba, also where the famous Taj Mahal Hotel is, has the majority of sights to be seen, along with all the happening restaurants and bars. Colaba also hosts The Gateway of India, a ferry getting you to Elephanta Island, and many bustling street stalls, markets and lodgings.
We arrived in Mumbai late at night via plane from Udaipur. We went straight to the pre paid taxis (Rs 350), and headed straight for Colaba. We didn't know where we were staying, but knew the area in which we wanted to room (near the Taj Mahal Hotel). So after haggling and running around the streets, I found a nice hotel (way over our budget), Appollo Hotel, Rs 3500/night, down from Rs 5800.
The following day we knew that there was no time to waste in this huge and expensive city, so it was off to Elephanta Island. Luckily, our hotel was a mere 10min walk to the Gateway of India (where the ferries for the Island are). They run every 20min and cost Rs120. The boat ride is around 1 hour 20minutes, and can get quite sleepy at times. We enjoyed sitting rooftop, with the great view of the harbour and the city behind us. Make sure to wear SUNSCREEN here though! Especially as this has been the furthest south, the sun being the strongest yet!
Elephant Island is made up of rock-cut temples in dark gloomy looking caves. Entry fee is Rs 150 for tourists (not too bad). Something we found interesting, this being a part of the Unesco World Heritage Site. These cave temples are carved into basalt rock of the island (pretty cool), and we were told that these carvings represent some of the most impressive temple carving in ALL of India. These temples were are thought to have been created between 450 Ad and 750 (super old).
The next day we decided to be more adventurous and took the local city train (so many people jumping off and on) North of the city. We went to Sanjay Ghandi National Park (so weak and I wouldn't recommend it), then to the biggest laundry spot in India, also called Dhobi Ghat (so many people washing and drying thousands of clothes, for households and businesses), Haji Ali's Mosque (this immaculate building is a sacred mirage off the coast, looks like its in the middle of the water), and to Mahalaxmi Temple (the busiest and most colourful temples in all of Mumbai).
Mumbai is also known now as a place where terrorists attacked, Nov 26, 2008. We went to the Taj Hotel (the very place they were aiming), also to Victoria Train Station, and to Leopold's Bar and Restaurant (the bullet holes still in the walls).
And to top it all off, Jeffery and I also partook in a Bollywood Commerical. We were approached by a 30 year old man on the streets of Colaba, who asked us if we would be interested in doing a commercial (he originally said chocolate or sunscreen but it ended up being life insurance). We said yes and away we went, 2pm - 2am. A long ass day, full of ups and downs, but in the end, we were Rs500 richer (each) and met 5 other really nice people (Australians, Kiwis and another Canadian). If you are in Mumbai, you may get luckier than us and be in the background of a movie, dance dance dance!
From Mumbai now to Goa... bring on the beaches...