Finally, we made it Mumbai!!
On arriving, (we got off stupidly early in Thane and had to get another train to CST), we found a power socket where we could charge our phone and ring one of the hotels in our trusty Lonely Planet. We settled on Hotel Lawrence, being the cheapest we could get (900Rs per night, in Colaba) and we were there within the next 15 minutes. Hidden away in a little alley way, near the National Modern Art Gallery, on the 4th floor, was the guesthouse. The guy running it was sweet, though obviously a little socially challenged. Our room was large and basic, obviously. There was a fan, a table and chairs, and we got toast and coffee for free every morning. However, not having a plug socket in the room proved annoying when we wanted to charge things (which we’d have to do in the lobby area) or dry my hair.
The location of the hostel turned out to be great. From our window we saw people Bollywood dancing, or filming, which was pretty exciting – and we saw a car commercial being shot in the adjacent street. We had a lot of fun exploring this massive contrasting city. Phenomenal old British buildings stand tall all over the city, with the poor camping out beneath them. There’s a lot of shopping to be done here, though you need to bargain hard. Our first day was spent exploring Colaba Causeway, where there are lots of shops and restaurants, and then we found ourselves at Gateway of India (which was built to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V), overlooking Mumbai Harbour. This area is clearly a place for the rich! White boats smother the water, and shadowing the harbour is the Taj Mahal Hotel, surrounded by fancy cars… This is definitely a place to show off!
We stayed a total of four nights here in this crazy place! On our second day, a guy from “Bollywood Extras” approached me and asked him to help him with a Bollywood party. Originally declining, I later changed my mind knowing I’d regret it if I didn’t do it! It was interesting for sure (previous blog). When I met up with Brendan at 12.30am, he was pleasantly drunk, and thank god, he’d found a way into our room despite me having the key, and he’d clearly had a stressful day. He had wanted to get tickets for the IPL Cricket game and so went hopefully to the stadium. When he arrived, the touts were asking five times the face value, and so he eventually left it, being followed by a strange Indian guy who was clearly drunk, “worked in MTV and could get free tickets” (liar). Brendan reluctantly accepted his offer of a free beer in a bar, though when he asked Brendan to pay for both his and Brendan’s drinks, Brendan stormed off, ran across the road and left him to it.
The following day, I had acquired a painful chest, making breathing difficult, and my throat felt like I had razors glued to the back of it, as well as a cough. Nevertheless, we made it back to the Gateway of India, where we witnessed a noisy, physical fight between a man and 2 women, and we had more photos taken of us than the bloody Queen. People were queuing to have their photos taken of them shaking our hands or whatever, and eventually we had to run away – to Starbucks, actually, which had AWESOME food! If only the Starbucks at home were as good as this!
Throughout the four days, we saw as much as we could of the city, including the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat where you can see laundry for miles, the University of Mumbai, Marine Drive, the National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Prince of Wales Museum. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Elephanta Caves as we kept waking up too late or had to run various errands. I have heard mixed reviews – some say it’s great, while I’ve spoken to people who have said it’s not really worth it!
On our pre-ultimate day, Brendan decided to try to get the top button on his HTC phone fixed at one of the phone repair stalls on the street………….. BIG MISTAKE! After spending 2 hours watching a guy separate the phone into 30 different pieces, solder and unsolder parts onto it, and put it back together 7 times, he told us to come back tomorrow (it was now 10PM!). We accepted, and when we returned in the afternoon the following day, the phone hadn’t been touched, and we waited another hour watching a different guy do the same as yesterday. Eventually, I snapped and told them to put it together, they clearly had no idea what they were doing, and we were now running late for our train! The phone is now more fucked than it was before.
Anyway, to end on a positive note, I found that the food here is amazing (though pricey as everything here is) and I absolutely fell in love with Coco Berry – a little frozen yoghurt bar!
Other places we loved are:
Pizza on the Bay (extremely expensive – my margarita was 600Rs!!!!)
Coco Berry – frozen yoghurts
Mocha – great café frappes
Leopold’s – the famous bar, which does great ice teas and cakes
Café monegar – an American-inspired restaurant, a little pricey I guess on the starters, with a jukebox
A place opposite the Vodafone stall which does excellent falafels
A cute continental place, on Causeway, that does a homely steak and veg.