Mumbai Day 2

I woke up just in time to wave anna and Dennis goodbye, I think there will be many more goodbyes to come this trip which is sad but I find it so fun to meet new people because we can learn from each and every individual. After Anna and Dennis had left I had a cold shower, washed my clothes and got ready for the day. When I would come back to the dorm tonight I would have 2 new roommates I wondered who they will be and what they will be like.

I walked down to Colaba district and miraculously made it there alive! Pavements are just about nowhere to be seen in Mumbai, let alone used. There is also a strong sense that the drivers really don’t give a shit if they hit you. When I reached Colaba I walked to the Gateway of India which was nice but all the salesmen were slightly overwhelming to me so I decided to chill out and get some breakfast in a western looking place before continuing my day. I had a normal coffee and an omelet croissant at the Taj Hotel Starbucks. When walking back I bought a selfie stick, not my proudest moment but when you are traveling alone, it is somewhat necessary if you want some pictures of yourself to show back home haha!

Back at the Gateway of India, I bought a ferry ticket to go to Elephanta Island which is about 4km north of Mumbai And consist of 5 caves which are open to the public. On the ferry, I spotted a western guy sitting alone so I decided that after my first couple of hours I would sit next to him so people would think we were together and leave me alone for the coming hour.

Live update: men taking sneaky pictures of me and acting as if they are taking selfies. I think this is just the start and I am just going to need to embrace it.

After Arriving at Elephanta island I walked down a beautiful pier toward the UNESCO site, as I was walking alone a man approached me and wanted to give me a private tour of the caves and then afterward head into the secluded mountains together to ‘meditate in peace’. I dread to think about the poor girls that do actually fall for this.

After politely brushing off the creepy man I walked onwards through a small picturesque market, the vibrant colors all the people and all of the things are definitely energizing. Like getting a shot of vitamin D for your eyes and mood! Walking around here I really like the fact that there are monkeys and cows walking about, it makes you feel even more connected with the beautiful surrounding nature.

Before heading into the heritage site I approached a guy who was on his own and asked him if he wanted to walk around together. His name is Thomas, originally from Vietnam but living in Japan. The caves themselves were just like something out of Tomb Raider or Far Cry, really pretty but I am hoping that the ones in Ellora and Ajanta will blow me away. After finishing observing all of the caves I went to the bathroom only to be greeted by my very first squat toilet. That was a very interesting experience, to say the least, haha! The island itself was stunning, surrounded by forest and it was so lovely and hot at a mild 35 degrees Celsius, right up my street. When walking back to the ferry I got some wide Ali Baba pants which would take the heat off my legs a little bit. They don’t appreciate women who wear shorts or short skirts so that was out of the question. The ironic thing is that whilst wearing Ali Baba pants it feels like I am naked from the waist down. I made sure I bartered for the life of me and got them for a neat €1,50. I think it is important that when you are a guest in a country, you do as the locals do and respect their culture.

Thomas and I hit it off pretty well and decided to spend the whole day together in Mumbai, we first went to the station to sort out my train ticket for Aurangabad the next day. Walking to the station we went through the most amazing Indian shopping street where everyone was hustling and doing their thing. We spent about an hour going from kiosk to kiosk trying to sort my ticket out. In India, trains book up months ahead of time so I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t get a decent seat. I ended up getting the lowest class seat and I just decided to embrace the experience it would turn out to be.

Something I have really noticed is how few Westerners there are. Once in a blue moon, you might be able to spot them. I don’t necessarily mind this but it does mean that I stick out like a sore thumb. Thomas said I was like a celebrity because everyone wanted pictures with me. I must be on so many websites and Facebook account by now haha!

Thomas really wanted to explore the Colaba area more so we went back there, walked through the lovely area and through the main market. I accidentally saw a chicken get butchered. A sight imprinted in my brain forever I’m afraid. After about an hours walk we went past the Taj Hotel and headed towards the Gateway of India again because I wanted to watch the sunset. We were approached by a young girl who gave me a bracelet for ‘free’ and said she would not accept any money but she wanted us to walk with her to buy baby milk. This situation smelled extremely fishy so as Thomas walked with her I lingered behind to watch what could happen. Of course, it was a set up as I expected, so I stepped in and got us the hell away from there.It was really nice just to relax at the Gateway of India for an hour and watch all of the people doing their own thing. It was just a shame that we couldn’t see the sunset because of the smog in the air. I absolutely love the way Indian woman dress, it is so feminine and colorful, I especially like their jewellery and will use it as inspiration. They all have such pretty big eyes too.

In the evening we were heading in the direction of my hostel because there was a good choice of restaurants on the main road. We took one wrong turn and got slightly lost, it would have been funnier if we weren’t so hungry. After we finally got back to the main road, we ordered some food and then headed to my hostel. Thomas was going to book a room there too. We said our goodbyes and departed from there. I went into my dorm to find one of my new roomies, Rune a Half Israeli and half Denmark who was spiritually inclined just like me. e really hit it off and I got such positive energy from him, such a great guy! After some chit-chat, our other roomie came in, Jin, a guy from Korea living in the US. The guys went for a beer as I had some time for myself just listening to music, phoning and contacting loved ones back home and packing my backpack ready for the morning.

Jin came back about 23:00 PM, we had a chat and found that we were both wanting to next go to Aurangabad to visit the Ellora and Ajanta caves. I then realized that I still needed to book my hostel so I did that quickly before we went to sleep. Jin was leaving to go to a fish market at 5 AM and I needed to leave the station so at least my alarm wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. Rune had gone out drinking with some friends he knew here in Mumbai and didn’t get in until late that night.

Good night for now and namaste,

Chloë O’Brien

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