Elephanta Island

Happily this morning is the last time I will wake up in this dump. Simon went and got us some coffees and I had a look at Ali who is covered in a rash that I think may be bed bug bites.
Simon realises that he can’t find his sunglasses and I feel sorry for him as he’s so pissed off about it. They were expensive and we bought them especially for the trip but still we can’t do anything about it and put it down to bad luck (eventually)

We have our breakfast, I’m getting braver now and have a fruit salad, although eating fruit in India isn’t recommended unless you peel it yourself, I can not face another egg and decide to take my chances.
Today we are going to walk to The Gateway to India and catch a boat to Elephanta Island. These group of caves are Mumbai’s top tourist attraction and very little is known about the origin of them except they were probably carved around 750 AD. Inside the caves are large panel sculptures all relating to the Hindu god Shiva.

We get the deluxe boat which costs us 120 rupees each and the boat journey takes an hour, as usual we are among a handful of western tourists and attract a bit of attention. This has been much less though in Mumbai than in other areas of India where the kids said they felt like part of a freak show at times!

As it is so hot we jump on the miniature train when we get off at the pier, which takes us up to the steps at the caves entrance. We are by this point completely melting in the sun and decide to stop for lunch before we tackle the steps and the stall holders who are all clamouring for our attention.

Simon and the kids have a snack and I make do with a lime soda and we’re ready for the climb. There is the option of travelling in a palanquin but I would just feel too guilty for the poor fellas who have to lift you in this heat so we give that a miss.

20 minutes later and we reach the cave entrance. It’s quite expensive to go in, the sign says the equivalent of 5 US dollars for foreigners and it turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. The museum is very small and although the sculptures are good, only 3 of the panels are worth photographing and we don’t visit the other caves as the information provided says they are of very little importance.

The highlight of the afternoon was in fact watching a monkey and a goat fighting over the contents of a bin.

We call off at a magic shop on the way back and the kids buy some cards and the information to do some tricks. This keeps them entertained for the majority of the boat trip back and we have a laugh when Maisie and I stand up on the bow of the boat with our eyes shut and our arms outstretched and pretend to be Rose from Titanic. Ali gets embarrassed and tells us we are sad.
Simon takes Ali off for a haircut when we get back to the hotel. I am a bit nervous that he will come back with a big wedge cut in the back of his hair so he takes a photo of Daniel Craig with him. This has to be one of the cheapest haircuts ever at 30 rupees, roughly 37 pence and Ali makes a passable Bond when he’s done.

We are going out for dinner now and catch the train from Victoria Station to Goa at 11pm tonight. We’re all excited about this as we feel we are going on holiday. It will be great to stay in an apartment and have a bit more space and I am looking forward to having a massage and doing very little for the next few weeks.

Its 9pm just got back from dinner, we went to The Darba Delhi restaurant and had some great food. The evening was quite strained though as we found ourselves sat next to 6 of the most cakey people I have ever met. When they arrived they spent the first 20 minutes or so singing to each other and we spent most of the evening glaring at the kids who were doing their best not to laugh!

Mumbai is India’s most cosmopolitan city and in some ways I’m sorry to be leaving. Originally we had planned to stay for longer and I don’t feel we have scratched the surface of what there is to offer here. The contrasts of India are more apparent here than anywhere else we have seen, with designer shops selling westernised clothes next to a sign advertising Slum Tours 40 rupees.
Tomorrow we will be in Goa – India’s smallest state. Its 10 days until Christmas – not feeling the cold yet.