lunes, 6 de febrero de 2012

Mumbai and other places of India

Bombay is an explosive city.

Just landed, we left our luggage at the hotel supposedly "next to" the airport (by the way, the cheapest and cleanest hotel we were in this trip: 3 € per person per night and with a clean bathroom, truly a bargain! The counterpart: away from the center), to go direct to discover the lungs of Bombay. For that, we had to go down to the neighborhood of Colaba, south Mumbai, and it took nothing more and nothing less ... that 3h and a half by taxi! (btw: windows down counts as air conditioning).
Why? Because Bombay is a chaotic city: there are a lot of traffic, lots of people (it is the most populous city in India and the second largest city in the world), the city is immense, the cars are old, there are many great avenues through to circulate, and they love the horns, so the roads will be in the midst of an acoustic concert of horns, a visual circus of how drivers and passengers spit his food (something culturally understood as hygienic) and in the middle of a pollution of the old car engines.

The city moves slowly on their roads.

Well, we got it, we arrive: We walk through Colaba and the first thing we did was find accommodation for the coming night (we came with our flight from Barcelona with only the first night booked, the rest, we thought, we would take there once arrived and cheaper). To our surprise, all hotels that remained in the South, the price per night is not down from € 20-30 per person, and not expect great luxury ... In fact, when we paid € 3 per person at the first hotel, we had not even a mosquito and it was all clean, while now we had to pay 30 € per person (there was no choice if we wanted to be in the center and not to lose another morning traveling ...) and was accompanying us "Jimmy" (a cockroach) for every night at the hotel. So, I can confirm best price in India is not a guarantee of no animals, buy maybe for better bathrooms (and again: not always, that depends on the end of the city you are staying in). But that's not to blame the hotels: is the place where they are located that makes uncontrollable escaping / entering / leaving "small friends" at liberty.

This brings me to the topic: "local" hotels in India.

On this expedition we did for the South, we want to avoid mass tourist and went to the most real and local customs at all times. We caught their trains (no glass in the windows, street traders, with spittle, with constant glances "who are these 2 white traveling with us …" -real fact for almost 3 hours without stop…-), its local buses to move to town (without a door and again with constant looks like we're human ghosts –at the end, I put my scarf all over the head with my sun glasses, so no curly blonde hair can be looked at, neither green eyes -, I felt
like naked with all those eyes looking at me!), and sleeping in their hotels.

What an adventure its hotels .... Every hotel, a story:

In Tiruchirappaly, for example, we paid about 12 € per person, but the room seemed like the typical abandoned rooms of the films, with items broken, dirty sheets, and as for the bathroom ... better not to talk. When we opened the taps to wash our hands / have a shower, the water came, literally, red!, Like red wine…hmm .. Why appealing for renewed shower of heavy moisture out, right?;) If you like toilet paper, you may ask, they use to have. But not always, better if you carry with you or if you buy in any supermarket from a big city. In the same way, do not forget the flip flops: always go well for dirty bathrooms and walk away all over the dirty room, to not end with your feet dirtier than when you came.

In Chennai, windows and doors do not close at all and there was constant noise from the street. Years will suffice to give a mosquito net because there were some remnants of it ... but full of cobwebs, so better bring your own to avoid those pesky mosquito bites while you sleep. Also not bad if you bring your own sleepy bag, which saves you from all those who say clean sheets but they are dirty and wet… (real case).

Ah! Not
be surprised if people come in and out of your room like in they were in their own house... Hotel employees are checking things (i still don't know what they need to check). Even while you have a shower or sleeping! If you don't want them to enter, you must say so at the reception and make that perfectly clear. Lock the door does not work: they know how to open the door anyway (real case too).

After all these "curious" hotel experiences, they let you take a more real idea from what India is than, for example, the one I took when I explored the north a few years ago staying in the old traditional and well-reformed Maharajas palaces, with white tourists in their rooms, swimming pools, toilet paper, towels, and of course, not without Jimmys as a company. During the day you can of course still visit the authenticities of India as your soul desires, but at night you'll be away from the suburbs to get to your "bubble" hotel (always with the restrictions for being in India, of course) in which everyone will understand you, have more food than rice, bread and lentils, and a cooked breakfast in the morning with some croissants and coffee milk (do not expect that in "local" hotels).

If you venture to go to the
local hotels you'll find along the way in which almost do not speak English, most have not seen a tourist, and almost do not even know what you eat, undoubtedly the adventure will be much more authentic.

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