Wednesday, February 21
I arrived in Mumbai at about 8pm. I hired a pre-paid taxi at the airport to drive me to my hotel. Just like in Bangkok, the driver didn't know where my hotel was and it was quite an ordeal to find it; it reminded me of being back in Thailand and having a driver who knew where nothing was. First of all the traffic in Mumbai is insane. They don't really have a concept of lanes in most areas so we would be going down a road with cars coming straight at us then at the last minute they would split and my taxi would cruise right in between them. I have never seen such chaotic traffic in my entire life. My hotel was named Residency-Hotel Andheri, but the driver kept stopping at every place called Regent or Regency. We then arrived at a hotel called Regency, and the driver insisted that this was the place. I had to convince him it wasn't the right hotel with the little English he knew. So he gets out of the cab and goes inside the hotel to ask; he left me in his running taxi in a dark alley with people walking about, and of course my window was all the way down and the handle had been broken off. Needless to say I was kind of worried at this point, but nothing happened. Anyway after asking multiple people on the road we found the hotel. It was a nice hotel, but I was given about 12 inches of toilet paper and the shower was directly next to the toilet so all of the water from the shower gathered on and around the toilet. Anyway I made it through the night.
Thursday, February 22
I and arrived at the domestic airport in time for my flight to Goa. The flight was about 45 minutes. Once I left the "terminal" I immediately saw Ashley waving me down. It was so great to see her and then realize that we’re in friggin’ India. Anyway Ashley, Ariele and I hopped into yet another pre-paid taxi and headed for this beach where they had reserved a hut on the beach for us. We first showed up at the wrong beach, but the driver insisted it was the right one even though we couldn't find the huts; aren’t taxi drivers supposed to know their way around the city they work in? Eventually we found out that we were at the wrong beach; our beach was about 6 kilometers north. We finally arrived at the right beach and more importantly at Coco Huts, our "hotel". We were given the opportunity to stay in a hut or suite, the main difference being grass walls or real walls; also the suite allowed all three of us to sleep inside. We went inside and wow, it was quite the experience. First of all our mosquito net was knotted, had holes and didn't even reach the bed, so it became a wall decoration, if anything. Second we had two light bulbs that gave off as much light as a lightning bug. But the crowning moment came when we saw the bathroom. Shoes are a must in the bathroom along with lots of antibacterial hand wash, and maybe even a full-body latex suit. The toilet didn’t flush all the way and the shower didn't even work, so the pipe (no shower head) that the water came out of became another wonderful wall decoration; again the shower was directly next to the toilet. You'll have to see my pictures when I upload them because it is better to see the room rather than read about it. But we all had a good laugh about it, and realized we were right on the beach. Anyway, after getting settled we went down by the water and had some beers and laid out and swam; the water is amazing here, white sand and clear water. After that we headed to a restaurant on the beach and ate dinner at this place near our hut; they had great food and very cheap cocktails. After eating we sat and spoke with the guy who cooked our meal. Some people in India, so I’m told, will take advantage of being around Westerners because they like to practice their English and learn more about us. The guy was very nice, and a good cook, but he talked to us for about an hour before we were able to escape and go hang out on some recliners on the beach. We hung out on the beach for a little longer and then headed back to our hut to try and get some sleep. Again we had no mosquito net, but only bug spray. So after coating ourselves with bug spray we all hopped into bed; there’s nothing like hopping into bed with deet all over your body. All night I was woken up by the sounds of mosquitoes swarming around me; I got bit quite a bit.
Friday, February 23
I woke up and noticed that my left eye didn’t open as much as my right eye. After feeling right above my left eye I discovered that a mosquito had bitten me; I immediately thought of the song “A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals. My eye became swollen, but the swelling went down after a day or two. We went and had breakfast right on the beach, and then I went and bought some sunscreen at a stand near the beach. After buying the sunscreen, I went down where Ashley and Ariele were on the beach. I coated myself with sunscreen then laid out and swam the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon. Well later in the afternoon I felt my skin becoming hotter and hotter. Surprise, surprise I was burned to a crisp. I didn’t realize that we were almost near the equator, and as a result the sun is more intense. Oh, and the sunscreen I bought was FAKE!!! I think it was just lotion with the word sunscreen printed on the bottle (Welcome to India – the place where everyone tries to scam you). But I didn’t let that get to me. Needless to say my sunburn got worse and worse, and very painful. After cooking myself in the sun we headed back to our hut for about half an hour. We then went and ate dinner at some place, but I forgot what it was called and where it was. Did I mention that my sunburn was ABSOLUTELY UNBEARABLE at this point? But don’t worry I got to go back and sleep in our dirty bed with fake sunscreen still on me covered with deet and a dirty t-shirt because it was the only one that didn’t hurt my skin. Then I got to sleep with some of the mosquito net on my face; remember the mosquito net is covered with deet and feels like sandpaper against my forehead anytime I moved.
Saturday, February 24
After getting about an hour of sleep we headed to this place called Roger’s Hygienic Kitchen; I swear that is what it was called. The upper level was covered and the lower level was on the beach. Needless to say we hung out in the upper level because the sun was so unbearable. We ate breakfast, hung out, slept, read, ate lunch and relaxed in our shaded area all morning and afternoon; there were three couch-like benches around a table so we could lounge around in comfort. After slugging it for most of the day we decided to head to this town about 6 kilometers away because we read there was a big covered market. We found a taxi and was on our way. We arrived without the taxi driver getting lost or trying to kick us out before arriving at our destination. We started walking around looking for the market; at this point I think we were the only white people in sight, but we didn’t feel threatened. We finally found the market and walked around. We started to realize that the only things they sold were food and supplies to make things, like cloth and other useless stuff. So we decided to walk around for just a little bit more then head back to the beach. We caught a taxi back to our hut and hung out in the room for a little bit. We then headed up to Sernabatim Beach where we were able to use a phone and the Internet. After that we walked around for a bit because there was a market along the main street. There were a couple of stores that had some cool things, but nothing much. So we stumbled upon this bar that had amazing cocktails for a cheap price. By the way, did you know that the legal drinking age in India is 25? I had a bloody mary that was awesome and a beer. We then headed to this vegetarian Indian restaurant that was supposedly authentic, and in fact it really was. So Ashley and Ariele tell me that we are going to order a bunch of dishes so that I could try many different things. The waiter comes over (he was stoned out of his mind) to take our order. They start with a few appetizers, then four orders of naan, two enormous platters and about 3 or 4 other dishes; while they were ordering I was thinking to myself, “damn…I’m not even that hungry right now.” The waiter started to laugh a bit towards the end of the order because we had ordered for about 15 people when in reality it was only the three of us. So dish-by-dish our order comes out, and our table begins to disappear with our many dishes. People sitting around us are staring and some even laughing. So we began eating our meal, but we all kind of got full somewhat quickly. We all got full and stopped eating, but our food looked untouched. Ashley and Ariele begin playing with the food to make it look like we ate more than we actually did because we had so much left over; they didn’t want them to think we were wasting food. So they finally clear all of our plates and bring the check. Our total was 405 rupees, or US$9.18; we got enough food for 10-15 people for under $10. After dinner we headed back to Roger’s Hygienic Kitchen to listen to some live music on the beach. We sat at a table on the beach and got some drinks. It was really nice, but then they started playing some bad music after a while so we left and went back to our hut to sleep.
Sunday, February 25
We woke up and checked out of our hut at about 10am. We then headed to one of the restaurants we had previously eaten at because they had a nice grassy area with many loungers available. We ate breakfast and laid out since it was my last day in Goa and their last day in Central Goa. We stayed there until about 2:30pm or so and then took a taxi back to the Goan airport. The airport was very crowded and there were no seats anywhere because they have two gates right next to each other that service multiple flights. There were about 4-5 flights and all of the passengers wait in the same waiting area that is not very big. Anyway my flight finally boarded and I was on my way back to Mumbai. I arrived in Mumbai at about 5:30 or so and proceeded immediately to the hotel reservation booth. I walked up to the counter and looked at the hotel prices. The cheapest one I found was US$85. This is India, how the hell could the cheapest hotel be 85 bucks. Well, it’s because they intentionally have a shortage of hotels so that they can charge much higher prices. I asked where this hotel was located and it wasn’t very close to the airport. The second cheapest hotel was 3,850 baht, or US$90, but it was only two kilometers from the airport and it included a complimentary ride to the hotel, so I obviously took it. So I had to give the guy a 1,000 baht deposit to book the room, and then I was to pay the remaining amount at the hotel. The man at the counter told me it was a nice place with air conditioning, television and whatever else he said, I forgot because I wasn’t really paying any attention to him at this point. So I go to the hotel and none of their lights are on in the small lobby, but it was still light outside so it provided natural light for the lobby. I ask him if I could pay with a credit card, but unfortunately the credit card machine was down so they only accepted cash. Well I only had 2,500 baht and I owed 2,850 baht. So I asked the guy what to do and he said that the driver would take me to an ATM where I could get the remaining amount. So I head to the ATM, what do you know it’s out of service. So I ask the driver if he knows of any other ATMs around and he takes me down the street to another one. Now in order to get to this ATM I felt like I had to get my hiking boots and ankle braces on because I had to go through all of this construction just to get to the damn ATM; I almost broke my ankle at one point when I lost my balance on a piece of concrete. But I made it to the ATM, got my money and headed back to the hotel. I handed the money over to the guy behind the counter and watched him count it twice for accuracy. I then proceeded to my room where there are also no lights on in the hallway, but this time there were no windows so it was almost pitch black Again I think nothing of it and go into my room. I walk into my room and notice that the windows were all open and I later find out that there were mosquitoes everywhere in my room. I drop my key into the slot so that I may have electricity in my room, but nothing electric works. So I pick-up the phone, and of course there is no dial tone. One of the employees comes to my room to ask if I want any water or tea. I tell him about the electric problem and he told me that all of the electricity in Mumbai is out; of course it is, why am I surprised? So I paid US$90 for a room without electricity and mosquitoes all around me. Remember I have a horrible sunburn as well. So I take a shower, and then try and lie down. As I am lying down, I am being attacked by mosquitoes left and right, and all the while it is about 90 degrees in my room; needless to say I was absolutely miserable. After an hour or so it became dark outside, which meant it became dark in my room as well. At this point I had to use the light from my cell phone to inspect my body for mosquitoes every time I felt one bite me. After about 5 or 6 hours of hell, the fan starts and the lights turn on; I don’t think I had ever been this excited before. I was so happy to have the fan on because it helped keep the mosquitoes away from me. So I watched a little television, read my book and then went to sleep.
Monday, February 26
I head down to the lobby to catch my ride to the airport at 3am. I go to the counter to check-out and the a****** behind the counter has the audacity to tell me that I was 50 baht short; he claims I only gave 3,800 instead of 3,850. So I begin to argue with him saying that the person I gave the money to last night counted it twice right in front of me and said it was correct. The man’s response was, “He probably didn’t count right because of the lack of electricity.” It was still light outside and there was plenty of light inside the lobby; this guy made me so angry at this point. So I figured I could either tell him to “f*** off” and walk out without giving him the money, but then I would have had to find another ride to the airport for at least 100 baht, or I could just give him the 50 baht and take the complimentary ride provided for me. So I took the 50 baht threw it at the guy and said, “whatever” and stormed out of the hotel. After having no electricity for about 6 hours, he still was going to ask me for more money. I couldn’t believe it, well actually I can, but still. So I went to the airport, got on my flight and thought “f*** Mumbai”. As you can tell I wasn’t in a good mood because this all happened at 3:30am. I was very happy to leave Mumbai and get back to Hong Kong.
*Sorry for the profanity, but no other words could express my true feelings.