India – Day 16 – Thane to somewhere north of Surat

Today: 274 km
Total: 2.119 km

First we picked up our rickshaws from the welder. He fixed the roof rack and all broken bars holding the roof rack on the roof. He did an excellent job, adding extra bars to make the structure more likely to reach Delhi. We also picked up some spare tyres, because Erik keeps running flat.

To cover some ground today we decided to take the highway. That sounds strange in a max. 50 km/hour rickshaw. But we were faster than most trucks. The highway is three lanes. The best tactic seemed to be to drive in the middle lane and take over on both other lanes. Some of the trucks look like extended cargo containers with wheels. We rode 274 kilometers, with a late (11 AM) start. So that was quite good for today. Tomorrow we will wake up early and make up for some of the lost time.

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In the evening finding a hotel proved a bit difficult. Almost all signs of hotels, were only restaurants. Strange.

We are now over 2.000 kilometers into our journey.

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India – Day 15 – Mumbai

Today: 0 km
Total: 1845 km
30 degrees, clouded, some rain showers

Bombay is the name given to the city by the Portugese and the Brittish. The Indians renamed it back to the name it had before the colonization: Mumbai. There is a party in the government that is pushing to rename as much of the names back to their pre-colonization, names. We left the rickshaws for a day and went by train. That’s much faster in a city this big. About 20 million people live here, that’s 200 Lakhs.

The trains…. I’ve done quite some thrill seeking activities in my life, para sailing in France, rock climbed and abseiled routes of 150 meters, jumped off a 18 meter cliff during canyoning in Italy, climbed the highest mountain in Africa and now…. I stepped into and out of a train in India. One of the highest adrenaline rushes ever. There is room for 1.800 people in one train. In rush hours some 8.000 people are crammed into a train. But because the trains are running on time, there is only very little time to get into and out of the train. This means people already leave the train long before it stops, they are launched out of the train and run along to decrease their speed. People start running into and out of the train at the same time. After the train has stopped for a few seconds, it departs again, while getting in and out is only halfway. So while train is already rolling out of the station, still people are jumping on, hanging on the side of the train and pushing in slowly, until only a small amount of people is clinging to the outside of the train until the next station.

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The Lonely Planet advised a walking tour passed much of the nice buildings from colonial-era to art deco architecture. We started out at the Gate to India, a triumph arc. From there we could also see the hotel that was part of the terrorist attack of Mumbai took place in 2008. From there we walked to the Churchgate train station, passed all the other interesting sites.

From the center we took a train and rickshaw taxi (strange to pay for this and not drive yourself) to film city. A big city within the city, north of the center, where all Bollywood movies are shot. When we arrived the last tour had just left. Indian people were allowed to visit by themselves. Foreigners were only allowed to visit in a tour, because apparently there are some off limits areas for foreigners. Private tour were not possible. So we went back to the mall across the street from our hotel and had a great pizza. Tomorrow after breakfast we hit the road again.

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