22 Magical Mumbai
*** I am having terrible trouble uploading these blogs so I will put the words and add the photos later...
Not sure why but we was at least an hour late coming into Mumbai today... we were on time but it seems the pilot wasn’t... as we lingered in the waters you could see the haze in front of us which was Mumbai...
Today we were not alone in port as the Azamara Journey was parked in our spot.... We had to manoeuvre ourselves to just in front... I said to Garry ...”0h no another ship ... that means it will be crowded today” .... Garry just looked at me and said “really you think!.... this is Mumbai!!”
Just like every other time we have been in Mumbai our tour company Mumbai Magic ( you can google them ) were there to meet us. This time we organise a trip to Elephanta Island.. Last time in Mumbai it was a Monday and the caves were closed.
Sudha our guide was wonderful and our very air-conditioned bus was a bonus. We were taken straight to the Gateway of India where the ferries left from. Several ferries left at the same time so we walked across a couple of them until we reached ours. It was the start of the holiday season so there were lots of people around.... Indian Tourists from other regions... Our trip took around one hour to get to the island. The Indian passengers were just as intrigued with us as we were with them.
There were signs all over the boat about no photography which didn’t have any meaning as everyone was snapping happy. We were instructed that you were not allowed to photograph anything Naval hmm they should have told everybody that whilst we sailed in the morning... so it didn’t matter as we already had our photo’s.
From a distance we looked back at the 2 ships berthed, you could not be blamed for thinking you were seeing double... Apparently the Ocean Princess and the Azamara Journey are sister ships with the only difference being the Azamara dark blue Hull.
Once you arrive at Elephanta Island you make your way onto the pier where a little train awaits to take you into the little village at the base of the steps that take you up to the caves....
No etiquette here, the train hadn’t even stopped before you are elbowed out of the way. We crammed ourselves onto the train and as we took off I had visions of men standing on the roof of each carriage.
Stalls are set up all along your path to the top of the hill to the caves. Everyone one is out to welcome you ... the traders, goats, cattle and the monkeys.
There are over 120 steps up and that is not including the paths that also incline up, it is a strenuous walk and although Princess warn on their shore tours that those with difficulties should not go, people ignore the warnings... as we walked down Princess was making their way up and there were those who were struggling. There is a deck chair service and for 600 ringgits you can be raced up at break neck speed.
Once at the top you can explore the caves that form a temple carved out of a single rock. The main room is a shrine to the Indian God shiva and as you follow the panels around the room it tells the story of how this god progressed through life to finally find inner peace, which we all should strive for.
We made our way back down the stairs, fought our way back onto the train and boat hopped our way onto the ferry that was to take us back.... Did I mention about one particular hawker who targeted me for a sale.... On the way to the caves he approached me to purchase one of his many necklaces..... when we first arrived “please madam, please madam.... when you come back buy from me... remember me, remember my name... I live in the village.... I go to school...please madam” Well there is wonderful marketing tool called persistence... when I did come back he found me again... “please madam, please madam”....”no no I said”.... he followed me onto the boat and stood beside me with his puppy dog eyes... and if I dared make eye contact with him he would hold up a necklace with a pleading look... He stood and stood as the boat filled up... feeling sorry I asked the price of one the pieces... $15.... “no I will give you $5”... “no madam not possible.... $10”....”too much no $5”..... he stood and stood.....Garry couldn’t take it any longer and offered $8... Now I am the owner of a pretty blue necklace.
Once back in Mumbai we were taken to a restaurant that served “snacks” as it was now 4pm. The food they sell is the same sort of food that you will find from the Street Vendors, except safer as it is prepared in a sanitary way.... I can’t remember the names of all the dishes, but they were all divine....There were variations of Dosa’s and a rice crepe cooked on a banana leaf. Curry sauces served with breads... everything was excellent.
Next she took us for a walking tour on Chow patty Beach. This beach comes alive after 5 pm each evening when families come down, sit on the beach, catch a snack from the many vendors for dinner and watch the lights around the corniche come alive and become what is known as Victoria’s necklace. We saw those game enough to swim in the murky waters but as our guide said if you see someone swimming they are tourists from the regions... no right minded Mumbainian would dare swim in that water.
As Sudha talked to us on the beach, a crowd started to gather around us. Many of these tourists were just as intrigued with us as we were with them, many probably not seeing anglo’s like us before. One family took a shine to one of our group ... it was the blonde hair, and they all wanted their photo taken with her.... first the family then just the children, then the mother, then all the children individually.... The father was snapping like crazy so exciting at what he was capturing.
As the beach became busier we were running out of time so we started heading back to the ship...Another very satisfying day in Mumbai.