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Craig’s Travel Diary

Monday, 05 Feb 2007

Location: Ahmedabad, India

MapHello all!

Unfortunately I've had to drag myself away from the beaches of Goa. I went on a fishing trip which consisted of me and 3 other lads going out in a boat the size of canoe fishing with coconut shells and line as thick as cotton wool, it was very technical. I caught a savage beast about as big as a goldfish but had my line snapped by something big! One of the lads caught an eel and the bloke who took us out grabbed hold of it and clubbed it until it just about exploded - think he's got issues with eels! The 3 lads I went fishing with where from Manchester and believe it or not Blackpool, small world! All typical northern lads which was refreshing, needless to say we went on a few drinking sessions which always seemed to end chasing crabs on the beach at 4 in the morning - messy! I dragged myself away from Goa having truly relaxed and drunk my monthís worth of Kingfisher and made my way to Mumbai on Thursday.

I travelled to Mumbai on a 15 hour overnight bus journey which was a joke. Nobody new which bus was going where and I had to change 3 times. Once on a bus I had to share a sleeper bed which was like being boxed up - they don't accommodate for anyone over 5 foot so I was pretty much doubled up in my hatch for the duration, won't be doing that again! Entering the rat race in Mumbai was a shock from laid back Goa. Mumbai is an expensive place to be, my room just about fit a bed in and they charge crazy money for what you get. The city itself is the most westernised I've seen yet and a decent night scene. Unfortunately I arrived on Election Day so it was super busy and nowhere could serve alcohol on election days so not even a beer! The area I was staying in was called Coloba which is where most of the travelers stay but itís a pretty grotty part of Mumbai. There's a bit to see within the city, I went to a New Year festival with lots of singing, dancing etc which was cool. I also saw the gateway of India which is pretty impressive, where it's built is the spot us Brits first entered India back in the day so a lot of history surrounded it. As Mumbai is a Bollywood capital it has over 300 cinemas so I decided to watch a film in the evening, it was a toss up between a cultured Bollywood film or Rocky......I wouldn't understand the Bollywood anyway! This was an experience itself, at the start of the film everyone stands up for the Indian national anthem and the film has intervals and when it restarts the film has missed about 10 minutes. Everyone seems to get really involved in the film too with lots of whooping and cheers, the guy next to me was fighting for Rocky I think! Yesterday I heard a big derby was being held at Mumbai race track so needless to say I was there no question asked. This was an amazing event, I've been to some race meetings back home but this took the biscuit. So much money was poured into this, the racing was a distraction from the several shows and entertainment going on around, I only bet on 3 out of 9 races and keeping my usual form of picking the 3 legged ones. At the start I was in the porper section and met a couple of aussie girls who had been flown over especially to dance and they sorted me a pass for the members enclosure and all the freebies.....happy days! Mumbai is certainly a place you have to experience, the rich - poor gap is huge. From being at the races watching well dressed Indians betting silly money to walking 100 yards down the road seeing 100's of people living in bags and boxes with nothing and small children carrying babies begging for a few rupees. It definitely made me appreciate what I have back home and the opportunities we have in the western world.

Last night I travelled by train nine hours up to Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat. To be honest there's not much here but itís a good central place to move onto the north. Gujarat isn't a much travelled place and you can tell, especially coming from Mumbai, from just wandering about today I didn't see any other westerners and I'm treated differently here, less like I'm a walking money bag. I'm getting a train to Jodhpur tomorrow which is the start off to the Rajasthan leg of my journey. I've been told this is where traveling will become difficult as the poverty is far greater than the south and standards of living are appalling.

Hope youíre all ok back home and the weathers not too bad! I've put up some more pictures too.