22.10.2015 - 26.10.2015 36 °C
Mumbai is my favourite Indian city. In many ways it is like the other cities - huge, bustling, crowded, loud and chaotic but what sets it apart from the others is the architecture, the art scene, the kind and cultured nature of the people, the European influence and the more civilised tempo of the city. It is a really massive city and during our stay we basically visited two areas : the area that we stayed in called Colaba and the next one along, Fort. We purposely booked accommodation in Colaba as we had read that it was where a lot of the sights are as well as shopping and being on the coast. The architecture in this area is very European and the British influence is evident. There are some really nice buildings as well as museums and parklands that provide a nice place to relax and rest. The heat was bordering on unbearable and we found ourselves running out of steam during the day and seeking some air-conditioned shopping areas to catch a break.
We spent our time there visiting the Prince of Wales Museum, wandering around the shops, watching a Bollywood movie, walking along the water and visiting markets.
The Prince of Wales Museum was a really great museum to visit, very interesting especially the information about the ancient Buddhist and Hindu art. The sculptures and stories were great. The building itself is very similar to something you would seen in England. Inside the museum there were several levels and we saw some Indian paintings, ceramics as well as some European paintings.
Shopping in Mumbai varies greatly from cheap market stalls to high end fashion. Top designers like Louis Vuitton and Prada are right next to the street markets selling knock offs. There is something for everyone though with some other mid range shops as well like Body Shop and Levis. The shopping is very spread out across several buildings, all outdoor shopping and not in a mall.
In Mumbai, food is very different to other parts of India there is a emphasis on street food and hardly any sign of fast food joints like McDonalds (we only saw one) or KFC. The street food is different but most vendors sell three things: Frankies (a wrap with indian spiced potatoes and salad smothered in chilli sauce), sandwiches (layers of bread with chilli, vegetables, cheese and tomatoes toasted and covered in grated cheese) and Pav (anything on a bread roll mostly a samosa, pakora or potato ball). Most things cost between 21 cents and 63 cents. Bargain. Other than this there are many Western style places that sell pasta and steaks which are really overpriced and then the usual Indian diners where you can get a massive feed for about $4 for two people.
When we saw the Bollywood movie we chose one with English subtitles. It was a unique experience. The cinema was filled with Indians, we were the only foreigners. The national anthem is played before the movie for which everyone stands and sings along. Then the movie started and during the show, people were whistling, laughing and when the female lead was shown in a bikini, went wild. They have the weirdest humour and the jokes were just plain stupid but we had a really good time, it was a laugh. They have intermission where the movie stops and everyone heads to the food stand where they are selling samosas and chips. I was really glad that we decided to see the movie - and what better place than Mumbai!
The area where the markets are is called Fort and there was supposed to be a market that was Mumbai’s answer to Borough Market in London. This was not the case! The market was like a huge slaughterhouse and around there were some stands selling bits and pieces but nothing like the gourmet foods that you find at the excellent Borough Market. Across the street there were some good food stands and a bit of an interesting area where there were loads of locals going about their business. It was cool to see another part of the city.
Colabar stretches along the water and you can walk the length of the boardwalk for ages. We walked several kilometres to an area where there was a beach. The beach was basically a large area of dirt that lead to water that was filled with statues of deities and gods that had been pushed into the water during various Hindu festivals. The area was kind of cool though with lots of food and markets and areas to sit and relax. Near the beach is a park called Hanging Park and that area is full of shady grass areas and park benches. We spent some time there resting before we continued our epic walk back in the extreme heat.
There is lots to see and do in Mumbai and I think I would like to visit again and maybe try to see more of the other parts of the city. Next stop we are heading South to Goa (the beach state) for a change of pace and some R & R lounging on the beach. Just need to survive another dreaded overnight 12 hour bus journey.