Showing posts with label Indian Ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Ocean. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mumbai: Magic Mixed with Madness

A crush of humanity, over-zealous sidewalk touts, waves of  taxis, cows tethered to street light posts, the synchronized dance of the dabbawalas, 94-degrees and humidity to match. . .

Mumbai, India, home to sprawling slums and glitzy Bollywood, was sheer madness. 
Mumbai was sheer magic.

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A holy man on the steps of a Hindu Temple - Mumbai, India

We had two days in this city that up until 20 years ago was known as Bombay. It was one of  two ports of call in India on our 34-day Oceania Nautica cruise from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey. 

We’d opted on our first day to take a cruise-sponsored shore excursion that  gave us an overview of India’s second largest city; a place said to be home to more billionaires than any other place in the world. Cruise sponsored shore excursions are not inexpensive. This eight-hour tour cost $209 per person and that's why I recommended in the 'repositioning' cruise post last week that benefits like on-board credits which can be used toward the cost of these tours are important.

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Cows on the Corner

As we rode in the air-conditioned comfort of a large tour bus we enjoyed a  kaleidoscope of scenes and everyday settings ranging from classic British colonial buildings to Hindu Temples, a public market and museum. We set out on our own the second day.

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Families on the Sidewalk - Mumbai, India
Some of the most striking Mumbai memories were those of  street scenes like the ones above. . . street corners hosting family gatherings or cows tethered to light posts.

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Mumbai, India

While we didn’t do extensive research about the place before we visited, I’ve since spent a bit of time reading about its history since our return home. One of the best concise accounts was written by Leo Mirani, for The Guardian newspaper in 2008:

“Bombay was ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, ceded in dowry to the English in 1661, and transformed into a thriving metropolis over the next 300 years by the East India Company, the Crown, Parsi, Gujarati and Jewish businessmen, mills, movies and money.”

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Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel - Mumbai, India
Two days here was simply not enough. We did regret not taking advantage of the independent explorations allowed on this cruise and wish we'd spent a night on land at the legendary Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. This was another grand old hotel on my ‘bucket list’ and remembered as we entered it, watching the horrifying images on news reports of smoke billowing from it as result of terrorist attacks in 2008.

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Interior sitting room near the pool area - Taj Mahal Hotel
I can assure you its interior common areas are again awash in luxurious beauty.  Everyone enters through metal detectors and bags are screened as they enter the lobby (we’ve found this a common practice at most major hotels in the Middle and Far East these days).

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The floral arrangements were spectacular - Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, India
YangontoSafaga2015 252The original hotel was the first harbor landmark, built before the Gateway to India and it was home to the first licensed bar in the city.

That iconic Gateway to India (pictured on the left) just across the street from the hotel was built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary. As we approached the Gateway we were swarmed by tourist touts; several who came up while I was taking a photo to tell me not to bother – I could buy one from them.

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We didn't need a warning to keep us from eating street food in Mumbai, India
One of the most interesting stops was to catch a bit of the daily routine of the city’s famous food distributors, the Dabbawalas.

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Dabbawalas at work outside Santacruz train station - Mumbai, India
More than 5,000 dabbawalas, clad in white ‘Gandhi’ caps, cotton shirts, trousers and sandals, deliver made-at-home lunches to the office workers each day. Their name derives from the ‘dabbas’ or metal tiffin boxes that they deliver to the office and then return back to the home each day. More than 130,000 dabbas are delivered daily.  The photos above show the dabbawalas setting off from outside Mumbai’s Santacruz train station.

Our ship's tour was of Old Bombay and it was when we stopped at Khotachiwadi I knew more research about the history of this amazing city was in order after I got home. Such an interesting stop it was, it deserves its own post which is coming soon.

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As we lost track of days and locations the Ship's Navigational map was helpful
Leaving Mumbai our Magic Carpet Ride of a cruise did a two-day crossing the Arabian Sea heading to the true Middle East, heading to our next port of call in a country I'd had to look up on the map before our cruise: Oman . . .the next door neighbor to conflict-bedraggled Yemen.

We weren’t in Kansas any more, Toto! as Dorothy would have remarked about Oz.  We were heading to the HRA – High Risk Area and it was time to turn our thoughts to security aboard the ship and on land . . .but that’s another story. . .

As always we appreciate the time you spend with us and thank you for recommending us to your friends.  And to those who’ve shared links to TravelnWrite on Twitter and posts on Facebook, more thanks. Those shares are the highest forms of compliments. Until the next time, happy and safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Arabian Sea: Hot, Humid, Healthy and Happy!

We are at mid-point between Cochin and Mumbai, both cities on India's western coast. We are sailing on the Arabian Sea. We were lucky to be no where near the Nepal earthquake or surrounding areas that were impacted (thanks to those of you who were concerned about us). After this lazy day - a sea day, as they are called, we will be off exploring Mumbai.

Sunset over Indian Ocean - (c)
Our cruise is providing us a sampler plate of exotic and tropical destinations -- just as we hoped we would have on this 35-night Far East Adventure that began in Bangkok, Thailand  and will end in Istanbul,Turkey. We knew it would be hot and we suspected humid - but what we've experienced as defied our imaginations. I dubbed Myanmar, "The Land of the Melting Makeup". 

It seemed cool on our deck while sipping morning coffee before 7 a.m. the other morning and that was because the temperatures had 'dipped' into the mid 80's and humidity to the low 90's. Yesterday  the temperature in Cochin was 94 and the humidity 97%.  Far more intense than Arizona in the summer or Puerto Vallarta in September. 

Exploring Cochin, India  by tuk-tuk - the only way to travel!

For those of you not on Facebook, I've been posting regular updates there - many of which show me wearing the same top in almost every photo taken (see above). It is the coolest one I brought with me - a tee shirt that soaks up the sweat (to put it bluntly) and that can be hand-washed between shore excursions. There's a lot of wearing and washing going on this trip by all of us - it is a nice feature of the ship to offer washing machines, dryers, and irons for guest use.

Indian Ocean - a sea day
Another plus for the cruise line is that while a great variety of ship's tours are offered there are options for do-it-yourself travel. Many of our fellow cruisers have organized their own land tours (primarily via Cruise and others of us have set out on our own to explore places. We're currently sailing with 140 of our fellow passengers still on land in India as they opted to travel from Cochin to the Taj Mahal and will rejoin the cruise just before we depart Mumbai on Friday.

Many of us opted to explore Cochin on our own and others chose the comfort of the air-conditioned ship-organized bus tours.
Oceania tour bus - Cochin, India
In Mumbai we will spend one day on a ship's tour - 'big bus' - to get oriented to the city and the second day plan to find ourselves another tuk tuk and set out on our own.

Heat and humidity aside, this is an amazing part of the world to visit. When back in the blogosphere world again I will show you more photos of the wonderful places we've been -- and yes, places that call our for return visits.

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts as you read the world headlines.  We remain hot, humid, healthy and most definitely happy we chose this routing!  Safe travels to you and yours~ and to my fellow bloggers, I will get caught up with  your blogs once we are again on land and I've got some time for reading.

Linking up (we hope):
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspirations


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