So, we’re trying to get down to Bijapur (Karnataka) in time for my Product Design Development internship with Sabala…
What we’ve discovered is that, it’s pretty much impossible to get from anywhere in Rajasthan to Bijapur easily, whether by bus, train or flight. So, our decision has been to go back to Udaipur, stay a day and night, head to Mumbai by bus and stay there for a few days, and then onto Bijapur by bus on the Saturday, arriving on Sunday.
When we arrived in Udaipur, we immediately headed back to Udai Haveli, the hotel we stayed at previously, which is run by the most awesome people. The guy was so happy to see us return, explained that we were the only people in the hotel (low season), and for the same price as the room with the shared bathroom (310Rs), he gave us a big, double ensuite room, which had a nice hot shower and powerful fan. He’s so lovely.
We barely did anything in Udaipur this time, except we splashed out at the restaurant, Ambrai, which, surrounded by beautiful trees, is on ground level, and juts out onto Lake Picchola, offering an amazing view of the lake and it’s lit-up surroundings including the City Palace. The food was awesome, the service was OK and the total price wasn’t too bad considering we had beers, starters & mains.
On the second day, I wanted to go shopping, so Brendan left me near the City Palace. As I was walking along, a guy in a shop shouted “SCARVES, SARIS, 200 Rupees”… silly me interpreted this as the scarves being 200 as well as the saris and so I went into the shop. When he brought out the saris, I corrected him expressing my interest in the pashmina scarves, which I found out started from 700Rs. We sat down and had chai brought by his brother who was obviously more of a servant to the shopkeeper. The brother couldn’t speak much English, whereas this guy had a very ‘OK-yah’ (posh southern) accent developed from who-knows-where as he had never even been to England – he even teased his shy brother’s pronounciation. Anyway, he’s an exceptional talker and, not being very strong with saying no or bartering, I agreed to buy a 700Rs pashmina scarf, despite having 2 already that I had recently sent home to make more space in my bag! Oops.
Realising I’d been “shopping” for 2 hours in which time I visited only 2 shops including a leather-book shop, I headed back to the hotel to meet Brendan, as our train to Mumbai was in a little over an hour. On the way, I passed a leather bag shop and knowing that Brendan really wanted one for work in Hanoi, I bought a really nice satchel-style one, which can fit in A4 books, for less than $30. The shopkeeper also polished it into a nice dark brown.
Our sleeper bus to Mumbai came at 5pm, which was pretty comfortable and stopped quite a few times, which is always convenient.
We booked our Mumbai accommodation on the bus and this time we chose to stay in Seashore Hotel because it had been recommended to us last time for its value for money…… we were not disappointed. Our hotel was on the 4th floor of the building. For almost half the price, we could have stayed in the hotel on the 3rd floor (India Guesthouse – same owner) but Seashore had a beautifully clean shared bathroom, plenty of hot showers, TV, WIFI in the room, a mirror(!!!!!!) and a wonderful, wonderful view of the harbour from the window/door/balcony. For the same price as Hotel Lawrence where we stayed last time, which didn’t even have a power socket in the room, (900 rs per night), we got an excellent bargain for money! Especially for Mumbai. Also, air-conditioning full blast in reception was a bonus – we just sat in there for a quick cool down whenever it was necessary… We did intend to go to Pune for a couple of nights, but ended up just staying here the full 3 nights.
We didn’t really do anything here that we didn’t do last time, except for this time we visited Elephanta Caves, which takes just under an hour to get to by boat from the Gateway of India. (Be careful not to fall into the water like one man almost did when the boat swayed away with a wave just as he put his foot out to step onto it! A tense moment for everyone nearby).
The Elephanta Caves were pretty interesting. They are home to a number of caves/temples which are in really good condition despite being over a thousand years old. It doesn’t take too long to look around – a couple of hours is more than sufficient, even when being stopped every now and then to have your photo taken with people. There are a lot of wasps on the island which petrified me and caused a few laughs when I freaked out every time we went near a group of 10 flying, buzzing ones, and I let out a little scream, but apart from that it was a very enjoyable trip. The wasps were the reason I couldn’t stay and eat on the island, though I’m sure the food was good. We walked back to the harbour area where boats sit and pick people up every few minutes to take you back to Colaba.
When we returned to Colaba, we headed to a little café, (which had a Samsung Galaxy on every table – you wouldn’t ever see that in Hull!) and headed back to the hotel for a little rest. Overall, we stayed 3 nights in Mumbai again, though one day was dedicated to me applying for jobs in England for when I return in July (I applied for 24 jobs and either got rejected or didn’t hear back from anyone. Good start……..).
On our 5th day, Sunday, we finally got on the bus to Bijapur… time to start my internship….