Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 6: 20th May 2011 Market Walk and Airport

Amin met us at 6am to bring us to the morning markets before sending us to the airport for our flight back to Singapore..

He brought us to see the fish market, veg market, flower market. It's amazing to absorb all these moments as you see how people trade, getting busy at buying the various products at whole sale prices. we learnt that some of the markets were opened in the wee hours of the night, as early as 2am..garlands were made..beautiful flowers and fresh fruits and veg were seen..


boss at the flower market..looking astonished at me perhaps!

loads of fresh fish

veg market

flower market


used in the weddings


There are about 17 different languages..and 92 different newspapers available each day..beat that!


congrats to a deal!

Sun rose a bit too early that day and we missed the sunrise.. Amin then sent us to the airport for our departure flight..We checked in rather early. Security at the airport was tight in fact.. There are guards at the entry of the got to show your passport and your air ticket itinerary before entering the airport..hence there was a long queue!

There were many checkpoints..I think that was keep everything in thing disappointing to me that day is I actually intend to spend the remaining rupees at the airport..only to realise they do not accept this currency and they only accept USD, Euros etc..but not rupees!! please take note of this!Not sure if this also happens to Delhi airport..

Overall, all of us bought many mangoes and magnets.. we were dehydrated becuz of the immense heat over there..I'm still recovering from my heatstroke..feeling lethargic even though I'm back in Sg for 3 days..hope I can turn energetic again soon!

This is an enlightening eye the Indian culture, the buzz, the amazing Mumbai..our 1st maiden trip to India. Aside from the relentless sunrays that the sun shone on us, we had much to learn, much to absorb and much to ponder about from this trip. We awed at the magnificence of the caves, getting spiced up by the food, struggling to stay hydrated in the immense heat. A totally different experience!

In case, you need a good guide to bring you around Mumbai, I recommend Mr Amin for this job. He can be contacted at :, +91-9820212029

Let me know if any of you need more info if you are ever travelling to Mumbai!
Till then.... :)

Me at Poor Man's Taj :)

Day 5: 19th May 2011 Mumbai City and Dharavi Slum

We woke up a little late than before taking our maps and walking around Mumbai City. In fact, we walked so far that we reached Crawford Market and Textile market after a whole 30-45mins.
We saw how the early crowd queued for their bus to work, experienced the mad rush and the immense honking of the taxis and cars on the roads of Mumbai.

Going to work

Women lining up for bus


Mumbai, a city, filled with the locals and the migrants. Clearly, overcrowding is an issue. Poverty is also a major issue. and the Rubbish and filth that people have to live in is something that's not solved for years. The govt, in my opinion, should really do something to improve the hygiene of the living conditions. The rich-poor gap is obvious. On one side of the road, are high rising buildings and offices. On the other side of the road, are slums and poor people. Child beggars at around 2-3 years old start to beg alongside with their parents.

In the afternoon, after taking our lunch, we met up with the guide from Reality Tours, for a tour into Dharavi Slum. Some background of the slum...this place was made famous after the movie "Slumdog Millionaire"..although the movie wasnt directly filmed there..Dharavi is routinely called "the largest slum in Asia"..Slums are the cheapest option for migrants to Mumbai to live in..the residences were very small and dark and in very poor hygiene conditions..and within these slums, some industries like recycling plastic, aluminium, glass were carried out in the midst of where they live..toxic gases being released but they have to live with it...they only have 1 public toilet and the number of people living in this slum is stated to be more than 1 million to date...imagine that! how on earth to share the toilet? how to bathe?

We walked through the slum with our guide. We saw people sewing clothes, basically is like a factory..they sleep there..leather products and baked food items were made there..we cannot imagine how is it like living life..despite all these negative sides, the annual turnover of business there is estimated to be more than $650m (£350m) a year..imagine that!

Dharavi Slum
(taken from NGM website)

Photos were not allowed to protect the privacy of the residents there..many of them smiled at us and asked where we were from as we walked through the slums.. little children stood around..excitedly waving their little hands at us..they gave me the most beautiful smile despite the adversities they live in..something which I dont think a city us is able to imagine and live in the kind of conditions they are in..The revenues earned by the tour company is given to develop the community centre and the kindergarten which children over there will benefit from. It comes with a purpose. a purpose to help the slum dwellers. I feel that although there is a lot of hardship there, the people live with pride, dignity and hope..they enjoy simple pleasures of life..nothing expensive..a game of cricket makes their day..a gentle smile brightens their day too..even from a young kid 2-3years old exhibit such radiant smiles...much thought-provoking moments that day...I strongly encourage people in Mumbai to visit the know what I mean when you are there...

After Dharavi Slum, we made our way back to the hotel. From there, we walked to Marine Drive and had our dinner at this restaurant, Pizza by the Bay.

At Marine Drive

It was a great way to spend our last night in Mumbai, watching the cars go by us..absorbing the last bit of Mumbai..We saw the lights up at Marine Drive, which mimic the Queen's necklace..and took some pics..before going back to our was an interesting day..something to reflect upon in each of be contented with what we have in Singapore :)

Day 4: 18th May 2011 Mumbai City

A misfortunate incident happened that day and Amin was not able to drive us around..He engaged his 2 frens to bring us around North Mumbai that day.

The bridge which the car North portion of Mumbai

One of the many slums in Mumbai

We had the opportunity to visit a shopping centre, named Central, and there was where we had our lunch. A very big shopping centre in fact, but there weren't many pple...I actually wanted to buy a Mac meal to eat that day. but the waiter told me..."Sorry..we only have fish burger. No drink, no fries. we can give you mineral water"..I was stunned! while trying to make sense of his English+Hindi etc..and so I left..buying a KFC meal instead..

Before going to this mall, the driver brought us to Sanjay Gandhi National Park where in fact, we should visit the Kanheri caves. but the sad thing is the caves were closed that day. So off we went, to our next destination. Intially we wanted to take a pic with this Bollywood signboard, that showed some of the actors..just to show that we've been there..but sadly, another bad incident happened again..our car went straight thru the gate without any security guard stopping us and we were faced with troubles trying to get out of that place..until we've paid a "fine"..being the ignorant us..oblivious to all these..we paid a sum...left that place..and am glad that all of us were safe from was treacherous..too dangerous in fact as I recalled...


We also went to Mount Mary and Chowpatty Beach to take some pictures before meeting up with Amin again..




the reality

Mount Mary

Amin was apologetic and we were saddened to know what happened to his car as well.. but we were glad to meet him up as he brought us to Haji Ali Mosque, a place where people arrive to pray becuz of faith. regardless of religions, regardless of who you are, you are free to visit this place, to pray, to seek help, and search for peace.It was of Indian Islamic architecture. The crowd was huge on that hot hot was nice to see the various religions, various cultures, the people from all parts of India coming together..and seeking solitude and peace in their heart.
Haji Ali by the sea

the crowd

In the evening, we went to Marine Drive, to see the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen in my life. I'll let the pictures do the talking...It was an amazing sunset..and I'm glad we caught it!
Lime Drink in a hot day

Street food seller

Along Marine Drive

Courtship by the sea

getting mesmerized by the sunset at Marine Drive


Fluffy clouds

Captivating sunset



This sunset gave a sweet note to the end of the day with us visiting Mahesh Lunch Restaurant again..I really like their chicken rice stew..nice and yummy..not too filling..just right..and is non spicy haha!


the omelette

the chicken rice stew

Day 3: 17th May 2011 Mumbai City Tour

And so we woke up very early that day and made our way to the domestic airport for our flight to Mumbai..I'm pretty surprised at the comfort of JET's better than Lionair I feel haha..

the flight took about 35mins..and we arrived at Mumbai, the metropolitan city of India..I caught sight of Amin, carrying a signboard that was written his name. We were pleased to see his big unlike the car we had in Aurangabad, this car gave us more leg space and stronger aircon power haha..

Amin in the picture

Without much ado, Amin started talking to us about Mumbai, telling us about the good and bad side of it..The thing which I remembered most is Amin keeps saying that Mumbai is a magical city..and we will know during this trip..

Along the way, he showed us the Dhobi Ghat..the place which has the largest laundry washing service in India..

Dhobi Ghat

People at work


Generations of people working as wash clothes from people working in hotels, restaurants..anywhere..150Rs per piece I recalled..and only men were working in this a hereditary occupation..once boys reach 12-13, they will start to work.In Singapore, we have a MRT station named as Dhoby Ghaut. In fact, it was a place for laundry washing by the Indians in the past!

"Indian dhobies (laundrymen) in early Singapore washed their laundry in the stream which used to be known as Sungei Bras Basah - a rivulet - that flowed from Orchard Road to the sea. Today it is Stamford Canal. The Chinese called the road beside it 'Lau Chooi Koei' (Flowing Water Road).

The dhobies dried their laundry in the open space between Bras Basah Road and Stamford Road. Bras Basah Road (West Rice road) was once called Church Street and College Street because of the several Churches and the Schools in that locality." ref

Well, in Mumbai,this place is located next to a Mahalaxmi Station where the hustle and bustle of the city began..we saw people climbing and clinging on to the narrow handbars of the train...was so worried that they may fall off the train at high speed..but no..i think they were well trained in this..

Busy Train

Then, the car moved through the street of Kamathipura, a red light district in Mumbai..where we saw prostitutes awaiting for business..there were a couple of mafias and policemen hanging issues are clear to the eye..young women..being exploited..sometimes even locked into rooms where they cant see daylight..being forced to serve "customers"..and yet it seems that not much help is given to the needy in this country..talking about birth control, talking about sexually transmitted diseases..talking about women rights..I feel there is nothing of such in place to control these problems..not to my knowledge at least.we were asked not to take any pictures during that time as we may be attacked if we are caught with we obediently kept all our cammies..and used the best lens which we have..that is our see the reality..



Movie theater

Amin, the guide, was someone i chanced upon during my reading in Tripadvisor. true enough, he's similar to what people have described in the you both the good and bad side of the city..tell u interesting guy in summary..he's very streetsmart and walk super fast too! we were initiallie "chasing" after him as we walked very fast through the streets..haha..

Cows spotted on the road..the road is multipurpose..for men..for women..for vehicles..for cows..sometimes goat..i even spotted camels at Aurangabad!

After checking in at Mumbai Residency Fort hotel, we settled down for a while before meeting up with Amin again for our day tour. Just a note..Mumbai Residency's a hotel located in the heart of the historic districts in the south part of Mumbai. The rooms are spacious enough. My only complaint is that the bedsheets are not so clean..and I'm glad I brought my jacket to cover over the pillow which I rested my head on. Other than that, no complaints. Is good enough if you wanna have a comfy sleep.



Amin first brought us to the nearby Colaba street that can be reached from our hotel in 15mins by foot. That whole street consisted of shops selling souvenirs and the famous Leopold Cafe, which was bombed during the Mumbai blast in 2008.


The cafe

There were a couple of men dressed in beige clothes, carrying some drums. Amin told us they are actually scouting for foreigners to take part in filming Bollywood movie, just to inject some foreign flavour into their local produced movies. I read from somewhere that a day of hardwork will reward you with 500Rs( SGD 17) and there's no food given. Tough work in fact in this hot hot weather.

Scouting for foreign talent

We had our lunch at this sandwich shop. and we do find the sandwich to be tasty. giving us enuf energy before exploring Mumbai..

Amin first brought us to some are the places:

1. A closeup of laundry washing

The load

The products

2. Bangaga Water Tank


The ducks at the holy water

The buildings..from the high rise buildings to the slums...

The pigeons near the Bangaga

The residence

3.Jain Temple


The lucky sign



4. Gandhi Museum: this is one place that I like a lot. I always wanted to know more about the lifestory of Gandhi. The pictures, words, books, displays have indeed enriched me with loads of info on this special guy, who is a symbol of peace in every Indian's heart.A great man indeed!


The great man


His books

Fighting for equality and peace

The exhibits to depict his life story


Gandhi with his wife

Gandhi was shot to death

5.Hanging Gardens: where you can have an overlook of the beautiful beach

Children at play

6.Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: bus terminal

The iconic red bus

7.Central Railway Station/Victoria Station where we caught sight of Indians taking trains. These trains are the lungs of the city, running north and south of Mumbai.

The busy road


Taking the train..on board!


The central railway

8. Crawford Market: that sells anything and everything..We bought our Alphonso mangoes from there!Each of us bought a dozen mangoes. The smell was mesmerizing.

Mangoes everywhere!

with a "hooligan" boss


cute dogs on sales

Amin and the Dr Mango

Dr Mango picking great mangoes for us..thanks to his expertise!

9.Textile market: from saris to silk to scarves



10.Gateway of India


Gateway of India: where ferries to Elephanta Island can be taken from

I felt amazed at the number of attractions we covered in this hot sunny day. Temp that day was stated to be 39C I think...what an amazing start to our Mumbai trip haha..the trip ended with the rest visiting a restaurant near our hotel, known as Mahesh Lunch Restaurant I think..while I had to recover from the heatstroke in the hotel room..thank goodness it subsided after a good rest that day!

Amazing Mumbai..Amazing Day..more to come tomorrow!