Using the crazy rail network, chilling in Goa and spending time in India's hip and buzzing financial capital Mumbai.
They say that each day 20 million Indians use the country's infamous rail network.
We decided to try it out and booked a train from Kochi to Goa Station. There were a few people ahead of us in the queue though.
This train took about 15 hours or so and meant an overnight stay.
We had really no idea how to go about booking a sleeper ticket and we found this first long train journey fairly confusing compared to China. We eventually muddled our way through the system with some help from other passengers and relaxed for the journey.
Sipping chai on the train of a thousand stops:
There were over 1500 people travelling on this train. Families, migrant workers from all walks of life. All these people are fed 3 meals a day along with countless freshly prepared snacks and cups of chai for buttons. The food is acutally excellent, quite an amazing feat to pull off as the catering cart is all on board and all prep and service takes place on the ricketty journey.
We arrived in Goa in off season. Goa is known for its chilled out party vibe. As we arrived outside the season we got a different impression of the place. The weather was not great, you couldn't swim in the sea as it was very rough and a lot of the pubs, clubs and restaurants were closed but that said it was still a nice place to rent a bike and go and explore this area of India.
Since most of the beaches were almost empty, the cows make use of the parasols.
Goa at this time was still very popular with a lot of young Bombaikers who travel to here at the weekends. The main town Paniji was a nice place to hang out. Again a lot of European influence here as with Kochi in the south. The famous dish Vindaloo is from Goa which is a mixture of Portugeuse wine (Vin) and Aloo which is Indian potatoes. This dish is actualy delicious and thank god its not as crazy hot as it is at home. Goa was also the first time we've seen pork since the contraband Serena and Vinny smuggled into Sri Lanka. They make a local chorizo type sausage as well as several pork curries. Yum!
Portugese influence in churches
Unfortunatley Ultan was eaten alive by bedbugs in Panji for the first and hopefully last time on this trip. Bed bugs unlike mosquitos are not at all partial to Ruths flesh. Ruth protects Ult from mozzies and he protects her from bed bugs.... What a pair!!
Next we made our way north to Mumbai, still refferd to as Bombay by quite alot of the people.
Having tested out the train system we decided to try the bus network. This was the bumpiest bus of our journey so far complete with a great Indian soundtrack!
Initially we were unsure of what to expect in Bombay. We had seen films about slums and heard mixed things about the dirt and dodgey rooms from travellers. From the moment we arrived in the famous VT station we had a fantastic time in this vibrant and thriving city. We found a great hostel in the Kolaba area which was right around the corner from the famous Gateway to India monument as well as most of the famous musuems and land marks of Bombay.
We were eating food on the side of the street one night in Bombay when two local lads asked to join us at our table. They were cool and confident young Sikhs both from Bombay and were really interested in telling us about their city. We went with them to the famous Leopolds nightclub made (in)famous from the book Shantaram and the Bombay shootings.
We had a great night and enjoyed their company as well as their advice on what to do in Bombay and India
We also shared paan with them. This is a typical indian chewing snack/digestif.
There are many different variations made with spices, tobacco, dried fruit and betel nuts all wrapped up fresh paan leaf. You buy them at the side of the street from vendors.
The lads reccomended a sweet tummy settling version seen below. Very strange but quite delicious.
We took a taxi tour around Bombai to see the various tourist spots including temples, hanging gardens and a Bombays famous outdoor laundry.
We were told most of the hotels and industrial launderettes send their clothes here to be cleaned. It was a hive of activity with washing lines and men bashing clothes as far as the eye could see.
Ultan outside Gandhi's house and walking along Marine Drive
The mosque in the sea. Its only accessable at low tide!
Another city we could've stayed for longer, but once again it was time to move on.