Mumbai was our first stop in India. Unfortunately, we caught the tail-end of the monsoon season and since Mumbai usually gets hit quite hard, we experienced continuous rain all throughout the day and night with barely any breaks.
Nonetheless, we knew that we needed to make the most out of our 3 days there so, we braved the rain and explored the city – wet and cold. We had planned for a day of rest since we anticipated that the jet lag would hold us captive but A and I couldn’t wait to get out and onto the streets!
We heard so much, both good and bad, from travellers who have experienced Mumbai before. People warned us to prepare for excruciating heat, unpleasant smells, constant noises, and for what some say are the deadliest roads and traffic in the world. Let’s just say, you have not seen bad traffic until you’ve sat in Mumbai’s traffic. As the 8th most populous city in the world, personal space is just not a reality for the 20 million people living in this big city.
It is truly a unique place with an unconventional energy for a bustling metropolitan city. The stark contrast of the city’s slums and the high rises that are growing at an unbelievable pace is something you have to experience and see with your own eyes to understand and appreciate. India suffers from extensive sanitation problems as a result of the major lack of toilets in households (great article about this problem here). For us, witnessing people going to the washroom publicly, pretty much anywhere at anytime, was probably the biggest culture shock. Mumbai is definitely a place that was not love at first sight but as we spent time there and learned to love the chaos for what it was, it slowly started to hold a special place in our heart.
The city’s attractions and points of interest spanned from North to South, which makes it hard and overwhelming to navigate as a tourist that doesn’t know the language. It is ridiculously cheap to hire a taxi driver in India. Essentially, you can hire a cab driver for 8 hours and it would only cost about $10. During the 8 hours or so, they would give you personal tours or take you to any place you want. However, the language barrier and crazy roads can cause serious anxiety. Our experience in Mumbai would not have been the same if it weren’t for our amazing driver, Wasim Khan. We were so lucky to meet Wasim, who we stuck with through our entire stay. He truly made our experience a special one and took us to places that we otherwise would not have been able to access easily.
At first, I would have to say that I didn’t have huge expectations for Mumbai, however, it turned out to be one of my most memorable travel experiences. I would highly recommend it for anyone that is looking to get outside of their comfort zone for a real cultural adventure and, of course, amazing Indian food 😉
This picture is the perfect depiction of Mumbai – high rises on the rise and the slums not far behind.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Built in 1903 as a symbol of Indian affluence and sophistication. This is the residence of choice for most Heads of States such as President Obama and other influential figures such as Hillary Clinton.
The Punjab Grill. Probably some of the best Indian food on our entire trip!
The famous shopping streets of Colaba in the South of Mumbai that went on for blocks and blocks.
Lunch break while A studies the city map for what to tackle next.
We saw a lot of the city through the backseat of a cab. A and I really enjoyed the time we spent just driving around from point to point. I love the candid photographs that were captured from our views on the car and how it shows the every day city life in Mumbai.
A with Wasim, our driver. We made sure to always take care of him and paid him way more than he asked for. We kept in touch with him and later found out he was featured in this article on The Gaurdian. He shared a lot about his struggles with us and this article sums it up. Despite his hardships, his spirit was incredible and laughter was contagious.
Slums on the beach. Residents would joke that they have the best views in their “beachfront properties” – shows their sense of humour and positive spirit.A view of the skyline from Marina Drive. An unexpected picture that turned out to be one of my favourites. This photo reminds me of the funny fact that when Indians communicate, hand motions are extremely important. It can make or break the sentence. Gave us a good laugh…
Our last night – we had drinks on the rooftop patio of our hotel, The Four Seasons, that had amazing views of the city.