The flights and transport from Orion's flat to the airport went well. Actually the transport to the airport went better than expected and I left an hour early and arrived at the airport an hour earlier than expected. The plane ride was good and I sat next to a really nice British woman that is moving to Goa permanently. She was really kind and told me all about Goa and invited me to go to Christmas dinner with her in Vigator and possibly see her Portuguese Villa that her and her husband bought.
I got into Mumbai at around one in the morning. I got a taxi from the pre-pay booth which I guess is the most reliable way but the guy didn't know the hotel I booked over the internet. We drove to the area and kept asking other taxi's and rickshaw's (same as tuk tuk's in SE Asia) until we ended up at the right place. Then the rooms were being worked on so they took me to another hotel owned by the same people. It was actually a very nice and fancy hotel but in the middle of some slums in Mumbai which isn't too hard since a huge portion of the city are slums.
the view from my window in Mumbai
In the morning I talked to the receptionist about getting a night bus to Panjim and then ate my complimentary crappy breakfast. After arranging the bus I decided to walk around the area of the hotel to get some sort of feel of what Mumbai is like. I didn't realize how poor the area was until I was walking around. For one I was the only foreigner I saw in about 2.5 hours of walking up to a couple Km from my hotel. The main street was crazy so I ducked into a ally/street, it felt safe because of how many people were walking there (and it was pretty much).
I wish I could describe what it was like in these slums accurately. I was never more than a meter away from anyone to give you an idea of how many people were in this area. All the buildings were constructed and built very close to each other occasionally with very small alleys between them (which I never walked into). Almost every building had a store front and they were small establishments that did nearly everything, with a mettle workshop, next to seamstress, next to a tea shop, next to a clinic, next to a cell phone spot, next to a shoe fixing place, ext. There were even goats and chickens around, and some area's with Buffalo's in a corral thing. Random unofficial markets were all around, I turned one corner and saw a vegetable market in a slightly wider part of the walkway. Personally I've never seen a place with such obvious poverty without any begging.
After walking around a bit someone offered me some tea and I stopped and drank some tea with him and and his friends. Even with the poverty he would not let me pay, which left me with a good feeling, but then the next person that talked to me tried to sell me drugs. A police guy told me I should be careful of pick pockets, and another 3 guy's tried to sell me drugs (I guess that's the only reason a foreigner usually walks around there). Finally I decided to go back to the hotel when someone asked me what I was doing and I said walking around and he responded “you want to see poor people?”, I said “No, living people”. But that made me think twice about walking around anymore. I did not take any pictures of the slums because I did not want to walk around a bunch of poor people with an expensive camera.
Next I ate some lunch in the hotel and the receptionist took me to the bus station to help me find it because he was off his shift and it was on his way home. He was really nice and it took us over an hour to get to the bus station because of traffic. I got an idea of how extensive the slums are and we drove through the Mumbai National Park because there was less traffic that way. He helped me get into the bus then I was off on a 16 hour journey to Panjim, 3 of which were just getting out of Mumbai. That has to be the biggest poorest city I have ever seen. One cool thing I saw was in one neighborhood a lot of kids were playing with those Chinese fighter kites which I know my dad would have thought was cool.
Now I'm in the capital of Goa Panjim in a very cheap place (which would be cheaper is it wasn't right before Christmas). This is a cool city that's small enough I can walk everywhere, and it has a lot of Portuguese architecture because Goa used to be Portuguese. I had some lunch which is funny because I still don't know what most of the food is so I choose something and order it without knowing whats going to come. So far everything I've ordered has been good.
my guest house my room is the right grate on the very top, not a balcony
a walking bridge from where I am over to the buses
some cool statues in town
Now I'm in my room after taking a nap. Its cool having this netbook because I can write this in my room without paying for internet and then just copy it in the internet cafe. That's all for now, and I have been gradually getting my traveling feet back. Meeting all these people that love India, especially Goa helps, but it also feels good being in a third world country. India definitely has all the smells, sounds, and colors associated with a third world country and is more intense in these ways than anything I've ever seen, in a good way!