Thursday, 24 December 2015

Cheap tickets to an exotic destination, whats your flight status?

With family in Australia and New Zealand, I have been lucky enough to travel from a very young age. Flight status is always on the go especially working in Tango. Its gotten me air tickets to many great places outside on the realm of the travel guide books, seeing how the locals do it. I will take the chance to thank all the people who hosted me on my travels. I would like to share a little of the exotic beauty of Mumbai with you and just maybe inspire a new air ticket.

Seeing exotic destinations that both capture the imagination and test limits of understanding when facing overwhelming situations. Ranging from the raw beauty, poverty culture and cheeky monkeys in Bombay or Mumbai. Not to mention our taxi driver who took us to some very special places around the city, later in the evening to be found playing cricket in the kitchen of our hotel along with 3 other younger men. Singapore with its exotic markets, mixing pot of cultures and stunning temples. Bangkok, Hong Kong and Japan which still remains on my untraveled list but country i would dearly like to visit.

India and in particular Mumbai (Bombay)

India or i should say Mumbai was a one time deal for me. Admitting to not having traveled outside the city. Later hearing that its good to travel outside because the capital city is very different from anywhere else. But for me as a child of 9 years, the 5 days we spent there were some of the most thrilling and boundery crossing of my life in that moment. Visiting the Gateway to india and the Taj Mahal palace sitting next to each other edge of the Mumbai harbour.

This is also one of the places to take a boat trip out across the water to Elephanta Island, a truly astounding place that goes far beyond exotic into realms that were fascinating as a child. the sheer size of the caves that are completely man made. Slightly scared of being in the dark, haunted spaces. Just before making the way down to the boat again we many tiny monkeys up to no good, teasing tourists and locals alike. Highlight was a baby monkey making comedy for everyone, painfully close tot he edge of a small drop. Laughing and hoping at the same time. Then the call to return to the boat came so everyone began to file down to the water. For me and my brother i think the boat was also one of the best bits, coming form a family who loves boats an the water i think something rubbed off.

Each day we would go and do something one of us wanted to do, and on the third day it was my turn. Back home mum had two very beautiful sari's from the time she and my father had lived in Sudan. As a small girl i loved them. Wishing to dress up, make unusual costumes and in particular the big tents that used to take up most of the bedroom. So with this in mind mum promised to buy me a sari in Mumbai. Each day we had the same taxi man who mum had made a deal with. He seemed friendly and honest while enjoying our adventurousness to go off the beaten track of tourist routes into more local places which my mother loved. After about 40 minutes in the taxi he parked the car and asked us to follow him, while i loved the idea of owning my own sari i was a little worried when he started to go down alley ways and tighter and smaller places. Then suddenly he stopped and told us to enter the doorway, keeping in mind this was less than a meter tall. It was a bazaar wonderful moment filled with trepidation. i was the first to go in, it was a tiny room filled from bottom to top with saris of all colours and pattern. Truly beautiful, we talked with the owner for 20 minutes and then he brought out 3 sari's that might fit what i was looking for. He and my mum haggled over the price, something she had learned in Sudan i think.   The owner enjoyed great that this unexpected woman could battle with him over price and in the end he gave a leaving present of a shawl as a reward. i will never forget his grin as we left.

Another day was spent walking the beach that was very close to our hotel, the amazing combination of extreme wealth going into sudden desperate poor as you walk across an invisible line on the beach. Running from shoreline to coastal road, separating two worlds.  The culture shock of this day was extreme. It was also the moment i think my brother and i truly looked at the people we were passing and were away from the seeming safety of the taxi. Everywhere we walked we had people coming up and begging for money. We briefly went in the taxi to a temple my mum wanted to see. On the way back we saw a small crowd of children begging outside. Some had were crippled and i remember wanting to give them something when the taxi driver smiled at me and told that it wouldn't do any good. Sadly he told how parents will break the limbs of their children so they make more money begging. To give money to these children will only grow the problem and the they won't see any of the money anyway. Many of these children don't reach adulthood.

At that point we went back to the hotel and something inside me broke, I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday. I wanted my air ticket home and out of this place. My brother and i didn't want to go out on the last day, and i think it had to do with the feeling of not being safe anymore. After some complaining how boring we are, Mum got us the most delicious omelet sandwiches. What made them taste so good was the spicy tomato ketchup they had used. So we stayed holed up for the last day of our visit.

On our last day we had one more meal of the most delicious omelette sandwiches ever and left for the airport to check into our flight. When we arrived the flight had been delayed so we had to wait for about 3 hours constantly checking up the flight status. This is one of the more potentially annoying things about air travel and probably traveling in general. But it gave the change to look around. There was a shop selling lonely planet travel guides next to another selling more of the same, maybe slightly different brands i don't know anymore. But travel guides all the same. Getting up i checked the flight status again and suddenly we were running for the gate as the boarding had begun without any announcements or warning.

My last memory of Mumbai was the change in flight status, the airplane taking off. Joking about the spicy orange juice and spicy English breakfast. Thinking about the meaning of some of the things we had seen in the last days and feeling truly thankful that i wasn't one of the poor beggar children. It was a life defining moment making me vow to live life as it comes and be thankful for what i have.

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