Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End Jan 09, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, September 16, 2006

We arrived in Mumbai and we breezed through customs and immigration. Mark was commenting on the vast improvement over the last time he travelled through India. He spoke a few minutes too soon..

We purchased a pre-paid taxi fare and went for the more expensive Air-Con taxi thinking that it would be a bit nicer for the 1-2 hour journey to our hotel. We walked out into the rain to find a tiny car with a broken trunk. After stepping through some puddles in the mud, we had our luggage put in the trunk and it was tied shut. When the driver tried to start the car it wouldn't start. He then took out several wires and tried to jumpstart the car. Eventually after he licked his fingers and pressed two wires together with the saliva-lubricated fingers, the car managed to start. Unfortunately, the windshield wipers didn't work very well and it was a very long hour and a half journey through crazy traffic and numerous slums to our hotel in the Colaba district. We were happy to arrive there finally and the hotel was very comfortable. We went out for our first taste of India at Leopold's, a famous bar/restaurant where we had mutton biriyani and garlic naan.

The next morning we decided to try out the Lonely Planet walking tour. We started at the Gate of India in Colaba where we met a British couple starting out on the walking tour. They had arrived the night before and also had taxi difficulties. Their taxi got a flat tire in the fast lane and then stopped in the fast lane to change the tire! On the bottom of our pre-paid receipt, we had found in small print that if the taxi breaks down before you get to your destination, then the driver is responsible for finding another taxi to take you to your destination. It must be a common occurrence.

The walking tour was not particularly exciting but we did see lots of people out on the Oval Maiden playing cricket. The main thing that struck us was how close the shanty towns were to residences for the wealthy. Less than a half mile from a shantytown, we saw a gated building with manicured lawns and BMWs and Mercedes driving out.

We tried to get lunch at a little cafe. The only item that they had was the south Indian specialty masala dosa, a crepe with a curried potato filling with lentils and coconut chutney, which was delicious.

The rains came in the afternoon which gave us an excuse to relax, and we ventured out for a nice dinner of mutton shanks, a spinach and potatoes dish and naan. The next morning we headed out to the airport at 4:45 in the morning for our flight to Nairobi. (Apparently Sarah is not going to share with you our airport breakfast.)
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