[從觀光客變背包客的印度行]起點:曼谷到孟買 My first time to be a backpacker in India_from Bangkok to Mumbai
In my flight to India, an Indian businessman named Raju next to me started the chat. Although his English has a little bit Indian accent, we still had a good time during our flight. Before taking off we left contact info to each other. Raju also invited me to have a dinner with him during the period I was in Mumbai.
我在孟買總共待了4天，住在Taj Mahal Palace超高級飯店對面的Salvation Army Red Shield Guest House。雖然行前就聽說環境很克難，但比想像得還糟，浴室似乎有一層千年汙垢，也許這就是孟買髒亂的大環境縮影－空氣不好、街道上遍地「黃金」。
When I was in Mumbai, I stayed in Salvation Army Red Shield Guest House which is near famous Taj Mahal Palace. The guest house was very cheap but the environment was much worse than I’ve heard. For example, the bathroom is full of dirt. Maybe it was the miniature of Mumbai City…
I went to Asha Daan twice. At the first time, we just got to there and visited the slums nearby. No matter we took train or bus, it would take 1 hour around to get there and the traffic in Mumbai was terrible. At the Second time, we did service for half day. Volunteers were a little bit more than the disable children. Most of the children didn’t have the ability to communicate. We tried our best to play with them, but sometimes we still needed help from sisters there.
In my viewpoint, it seemed like they satisfied our experience needs, since they had to adapt to a group of people who only showed up for few days. When they became more familiar with us or still not adapted, we already had to say goodbye. I think maybe this kind of short term service is more suitable for common children. At last, we can have some culture exchange during few days.
關於孟買的觀光景點，共去了1.Elephanta Island 2.Kanheri Caves在團體中有領隊幫你處理好交通、票的問題，並約定好集合時間，這二者的風景對我來說很普通(印象深刻的是孟買的海永遠是灰咖啡色)，在團體中也遇不到什麼新鮮事，因此照片拍很少，想盡量減少身上觀光客的氣息。
We have visited Elephanta Island and Kanheri Caves during our sightseeing day off. The leader handled all the trivial matters, like transportation and tickets. All we had to do was remembering to gather at the appointed time and place. The view of these two places was nothing special for me. I was only impressed by the color of Mumbai harbour. It was always brown or grey and caused me quite missing the beautiful blue sea in Taiwan east coast. Therefore, I took very few photos during those days.
在孟買最特別的際遇是某天傍晚被「搭訕」。那天，我站在超商門口等朋友，有一位中年男子從超商出來，友善地問我”where are you from? Why are you here?”他的英文不錯(沒很重的印度腔)，於是我們聊了不少，我問他孟買哪裡好玩，他說你是自然愛好者孟買不會有吸引你的地方，他首推GOA海岸，然後說假如我想去他很樂意奉陪。我說要回去看看資料考慮一下，他竟然說不如我們先去PUB跳舞然後到他家過夜，我心想假如你是年輕的帥哥我可能會考慮，於是當下想盡辦法婉拒他。
The most special encounter was someone trying to flirt with me in front of the supper market. I was waiting my friend there and a middle-aged man just came out. Since his English is well, we chatted about many ideas. He told me Mumbai is not suitable for me who is a nature lover and recommended me to visit GOA. However, he suddenly suggested going to pub and then his home tonight. It surprised me and he was not the type I like, so I just thanked him but declined.
I read some introduction of GOA in my Lonely Planet afterwards. It’s really worthwhile to visit. Many middle class India go there for vacation. Therefore, I contacted Raju and took a team member Yvonne with me.
When we arrived Raju’s office, he just agreed with our GOA dream and booked the train ticket for us. Then he drove us to his home during the rush hour. He said if there is no traffic jam, we’ll arrive in only 15 minutes, but now we have to wait 1 hour. He didn’t complain it at all. Maybe for him, traffic jam is just a common part of daily life.
There are 7 family members living together in Raju’s tiny but cozy home. Most of them are like Raju, warm and very willing to talk with us. Finally, Raju took us to a good restaurant near Juhu beach. He knew that we prefer light taste food, so he ordered this type dishes for us. That meal was the best one I had in India this time, but I enjoyed that moment too much and forgot to take any picture. At least, I had a photo with Raju to remember the happy time we had.
那天我們在孟買沒有特別去哪裡，只是在街上邊逛邊聊，處理買電話卡、訂車票、聯絡機票延期等事宜，最後學印度人在印度門前的廣場坐。他是攝影師，那裡是捕抓人像的好地點，但其實我們也被很多印度人拍，甚至有人前來閒聊。那是很愜意的午后，印度門Gateway of India，也是我這次在孟買最懷念的地方…
Next morning, I told the leader my GOA plan. He agreed with some unhappiness, so Yvonne decided to give up her 700RB train ticket. I still didn’t want to give up but I dare not to go there by myself that time. Suddenly, the China boy (Diky) I met few days ago showed up in the Hostel. He registered here because the information I gave him. I had good impression on him since we met. Therefore, I tried to persuade him to visit GOA with me, but he told me he had to go north to Nepal and the bus ticket to next city (Ahmedabad) has been booked. I thought as long as leaving Mumbai City, any other place was okay for me. So I decided to go with him finally.
The last day in Mumbai, I and Diky had no special sightseeing plan. We just went around the street and deal with some travelling matters, like buying phone SIM card and postponing my flight ticket. Before leaving, we sat at the square of Gateway of India. Besides talking more about ourselves, we observed different kinds of people here. I found many Indians are curious about us too. Some took pictures of us covertly and some came to chat with us friendly. For me, it’s a memorable evening and Gateway of India is my highlight in Mumbai.
After I decided to become a backpacker in India, I wrote in my diary, “It seemed somewhat crazy to go with a China boy I just met, but it seemed possible in this crazy country. Although it had risks, I thought profound experience and unexpected gain would only be met in adventures.”
I had several chances to talk about Indian experience with other backpackers. A French girl travelling in Mumbai by herself shared that many special things happened just on the street, so she had no special sightseeing plan and just walked around everyday. It’s quite different from the orderly Europe, so she loves Mumbai.
Raju often concerned about my India journey even when I have backed to Taiwan. I miss this kind-hearted friend so much and maybe I will return to Mumbai for reunion one day!
**MORE PHOTOS IN MY FLICKR**