Mumbai – day 54

Dragged our feet getting up this morning. Both of us have fallen in love with Mumbai and, if accomodation costs were cheaper, we’d have happily stayed a few more days! As it is, our budget has been stretched to the maximum over the past four days but wouldn’t have changed it for anything – it’s been amazing. Definitely changed my previous view of Mumbai after I got stuck here due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 2010. Anyway, we took our time getting up, ready and packing our bags by watching reruns of ‘MasterChef Australia’ and ‘Criminal Minds’. Checked out of the hotel and headed to the metro station to go to Churchgate station (via the film USB guy for a few last minute film additions… Oops!!). Having left our walking tour itinerary back at the hotel with our bags (silly me!), we decided to wander down whichever roads took our fancy heading in the vague direction of the Gate of India with the idea to walk back up to our hotel via the beach. Started by the University and saw the High Court of Bombay buildings.  

Both of them were beautiful, gothic buildings with amazing turrets and stained glass windows. It was an ideal building if Hogwarts had a university! It even had eagles flying around and landing on its roof which could be an upgraded version of owl post!!! Walking past the high court was slightly nerve wracking due to the security guards stood in their booths with machine guns pointed out onto the streets, fingers already on the triggers!! Continued walking up and down streets, enjoying the architecture and people watching. Clearly considered a hot day even by local standards by the way everyone was devouring ice-creams and bottles of iced water. After 3 hours of walking, we headed into the air conditioned haven of Starbucks and had another Christmas frappuchino. Used the free wifi to do a bit of Christmas shopping research online before heading back out into the sauna!! Walked down the touristy shopping district towards the beach. The beach front is known as ‘The Queens Necklace’ as, once the sun has set, the street lamps light up the path and are said to resemble a pearl necklace. The walk along the coastline was nice due to the breeze although slightly ruined by the over-powering smell… Tried to watch the sun set over the ocean but, like before, the last few minutes before it reaches the horizon, the sun gets obscured by a thick cloud of smog. It was still nice to sit in silence and watch it for a while. 

We then walked to Chowpatty Beach although didn’t dip our feet into the water as we’ve been told that the water is pretty toxic! Headed back towards our hotel where they very kindly let us use a room to shower and change before we jumped into a taxi to get to the CST train station to catch our overnight train to Aurangabad. We had to walk 10minutes on the platform just to reach our carriage – and there was at least half-a-dozen more carriages beyond ours!! Got onto the train and literally climbed straight into bed. 

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Mumbai – day 53

Had a much better nights sleep and, despite Jayne’s full-on head cold, we decided to head out of the city to visit Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Left the hotel and made our way to the 104-sq-km protected tropical rainforest. It is quite hard to believe that it was located at the end of our metro line, an hour out of Central Mumbai. The metro ride itself was interesting as, at every stop, someone came on board with a variety of goods to sell – jewellery, hair bands, sewing kits, staplers, Rubix cubes… You name it, they sold it!!  

 Got to the end of the line and, after a bit of help from some locals, we walked towards the entrance of the park. The park is filled with bright flora, birds, butterflies and animals. We saw wild deer and there are supposed to be wild leopards in the forested hills. 

  

 Walked the 5km from the entrance to the Kanheri Caves. Lining the side of a rocky ravine, these 109 caves were used by Buddhist monks between the 2nd and 9th centuries as monasteries and temples and some of them had some amazing carvings, although we were totally spoiled by the elephant caves 2 days ago.   

  

  Didn’t manage to visit all 109 caves as the heat was blistering by the time we got there and the heights combined with her cold made Jayne’s head spin a bit too much! Found a quiet place to take a breather and enjoy the view before catching a bus back to the main entrance. 

  Got a ‘Western’ perk by being allowed onto the bus at the drop off point before collecting the Indian tourists at the pick up point… Felt a little bad until I realised how grateful I was to have a seat for the 20 minute journey squashed in the sardine can of a bus!!! Walked towards the tiger orientation centres to get on another bus to visit the section of the park that has tigers and lions. They weren’t allowing visitors into the lion section but we headed into the tiger section – got to see 2 tigers in a cage. The cynical part of me thinks they are there so that tourists are ‘guaranteed’ a tiger sighting. However, a little further into the park, there was a tiger bathing in a pond. It was so beautiful to see – Jayne took some fantastic photos through the window grill of the bus.    Headed back towards the metro and our hotel via the film man again to add to our collection of films. Went a little mad and got 17 films on our USB stick for the grand total of £3.40!! Spent the evening planning our walking tour of the city tomorrow before we need to catch our train to Aurangabad.

Mumbai – day 52

Woke up in a bit of a grumpy mood having had an awful nights sleep. Was feeling a bit homesick too. Mumbai reminds me very much of London except with a much hotter / humid climate so made me feel a bit nostalgic. Spent the morning eating toast, drinking coffee and catching up on Facebook. Jayne did a superb job of trying to jolly me out of my hump, despite her stinking cold, and we left the hotel around 11am to buy train tickets to our next town. Walked for 20 minutes to Central Mumbai station only to realise that we’d forgotten to bring our passports which we needed to purchase our tourist quota tickets – put me back in a weepy bad mood!! Headed back to the hotel to pick up our passports and then went back to the train station. Purchased our train tickets and then realised I had written the wrong date on the request form so had to cancel our tickets and rebook. The day (and my mood) just kept getting worse!! Jayne took me to Starbucks to cheer me up. Had a Christmas red cup but as a frappuchino – it was so weird to have a cold Christmas drink!Headed to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) station. An extravagant Gothic building built in 1887, it is a mixture of Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles creating an imposing Daliesque building of buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and stained-glass windows.It also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so Jayne was super excited to tick another location off the list!  Since I was still feeling homesick , we decided to jumped on the metro from CST station to head to the cinema to watch ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2’. Was nice to lose myself in the film for a couple of hours! Plus, someone got a bit excited over the advert for the new ‘Star Wars’ film… Guess what we’ll be doing on Christmas Day!!   Headed back on the metro to the hotel, stopping en route to have dinner at the railway cafe. Found a guy on the street corner who would download films onto a memory stick for 20p each. Decided to try it out with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy to make sure it worked on our netbook and was in English! It did and it was, so we’ll probably head back over to him tomorrow to get some more films to keep us entertained when we need it!

Had a lovely long Skype chat with Clare whilst Jayne watched ‘Godzilla’ on Hindu TV (with a box of tissues for her runny nose – she would be the only person to get a cold in this weather!) before we went to bed, hopefully to get a better nights sleep!!

Mumbai – day 51

Set our alarms early so we had time to get ready and make our way to the Gate of India to catch the boat to Gharapuri (literally ‘the city of caves’ – aka Elephanta Island). Started walking towards the port as it felt incredibly less humid than last night. However, within 5 minutes of walking, we were both absolutely soaking! Decided to hail a taxi (there are no TukTuks in Mumbai – but the taxis are literally TukTuks with doors!!!) and for 60p, we carried on our journey with a breeze coming through the windows – so much nicer! Arrived at the Gate of India and immediately boarded a boat to take us go the island. Paid extra to sit on the top deck of the boat and got a really beautiful view of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and the Gate of India.  The hour long boat trip across the harbour was nice. Unfortunately, the smog was too heavy to see anything apart from a few boats and the island when we approached it. Once off the ferry, we avoided taking the toy train (which only took people about 200m) and walked to the entrance of the island. We then started making our way up the 150+ steps to the top of the hill. The path was lined with stalls selling all kinds of tourist tat and monkeys watching your every step to see if you had any food worth stealing!! 

We visited the larger group of five Hindu caves first. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although it was ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese in 1534 after which the caves suffered severe damage. The caves are carved from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally thought to be painted in the past, but now only traces remain (you could only see traces of it when someone shone a torch on them!).   
We have to say that they are some of the most impressive cave carvings we’ve seen! The main cave (Cave 1, or the Great Cave) is an intriguing latticework of courtyards, halls, pillars and shrines with a 6m-tall statue of Sadhashiva – depicting a three-faced Shiva as the destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe.   

The remaining four caves aren’t as intricate as the first but were beautiful in there own way and, surprinsgly, weren’t as busy as the first cave (don’t think many tourists continued the walk up hill to see them!). Tried to find the last two caves, which hold Buddhist statues but they are, apparently, closed to the public. Headed up instead to the top of the hill where there are two cannons. The cannons weren’t particularly well kept but the view was nice – would have been even better on a clear day. 
Headed back down to the harbour, watching American tourists getting whisked down the mountain on a chair that was carried by four men. Stopped to get some fruit and corn on the cob before getting the boat back across the harbour. Decided to pop into the Taj Mahal Palace hotel as the staircase is supposed to be amazing. Decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea in their Sea Lounge – an amazing buffet of savoury and sweet dishes alongside finger sandwiches, scones and tea! Sat enjoying the view of the Gate of India, watching the world outside whilst listening to the live pianist on the grand piano. We both felt very undressed for such an amazing experience!!!    
Headed back to the hotel via the Mumbai metro (after almost getting hit by a bus!!). Got asked by a local to be an extra in a Bollywood movie – Jayne heard that he needed western people to be in a ball dancing scene… I heard pole dancing scene!!! Needless to say, it didn’t seem very legitimate so we turned him down and, maybe, our only chance to make it big in the Indian film industry! Spent the evening back at the hotel planning our next few days in Mumbai and working out how to get to our next planned destination. 

Travelling – day 50

Had a lazy morning, eating breakfast, packing our bags and checking out of the hotel. Stayed in reception for a bit, reading our books and the newspaper. Decided to leave early for the train station so we could stop en route for ice cream. Jayne ordered something that neither of us had any idea what it was… Turned out to be a sort of rose flavoured strawberry milkshake with sweet spaghetti, vanilla ice cream and jelly bits floating in it!! It actually tasted better than it sounds/looks. I played it safe with a cookies & cream sundae covered in chocolate sauce, cashew nuts and chocolate chips.  

Headed to the train station and worked out which platform we needed to wait on. Sat in a quiet corner on the station, slowing sweating out through every pore of our bodies just by breathing!! The humidity has gotten higher as we’ve gone further south and the rain storm two days ago hasn’t cleared the air at all.  
Got on the train and found our seats. Have to admit that Indian Railways are extremely efficient and diligent – within a minute of the train pulling out from the station, we had a free bottle of water each and the conductor had checked our tickets. Within 5 minutes, we were served the snacks that the other passengers had been served before we boarded the train! It was a slow but easy 5 hour journey to Mumbai – we read our books and watched the scenery listening to the various body noises of the passengers around us!! Dinner on the train was actually really nice. We had soup and bread sticks to start, followed by rice and 2 types of vegetarian curries. For dessert, we then got served vanilla ice cream. 

Arrived in Mumbai, where you can actually taste the smog and humidity! Walked the short distance to our hotel. Accommodation costs are higher in Mumbai than anywhere else in India but we decided to pay a little bit extra to be in Central Mumbai so we can walk to the major tourist sights rather than having to get taxis or trains. Although, even at 9.30pm, we were sweating so much from the 15 minute walk so we might be getting taxis everywhere anyway!!! 

Vadodara – day 49

Having had the best nights sleep that both of us have had in a while (the benefits of posh hotel beds and sheets!!), we got our free newspaper that was left outside our door and headed down to the restaurant for our complimentary breakfast (think Booking.com were really trying to suck up to us at this point!!). The rainstorm made the ‘Times of India’ paper – part of me was expecting to see a photo of the two of us wading through puddles!!  Left the hotel and headed to the local bus station to catch a bus to Champaner, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Gujarat’s former capital. Surrounding the town is an 800m volcanic hill which looks like a piece of the Himalaya has been out there! The city was once surrounded by 6km of fort walls but there is very little of it remaining. We started off by heading into the Sayer-Ki-Masjid. This ‘Mosque of the City’ was a private mosque built for the royal family and nobles of the Gujarat Sultanate (15th-16th century), in a mixture of Indian and Islamic style. Next, we headed to the Jami Masjid. Located outside the royal enclosure, this colossal mosque is classified as one of the finest mosques of Gujarat. Dating from 1513, it took 125 years to build, and has a wonderful carved entrance and imposing courtyard. Inside, the main prayer hall is supported by hundreds of columns and the ruler’s prayer hall is divided from the main space by jalis. We then decided to throw caution to the wind and use our sense of direction to find some of the other decaying mosques ‘lost’ in the landscape. Found the Lila Gumbaj relatively easily where Jayne was able to climb up the narrow stairs to the rooftop (I wasn’t as brave – it was pitch black in the staircase!!). Took us a little long to find Kevda Masjid and ended up walking through a field and climbing over a fence to get in… It had globe like domes with beautiful carvings of floral and geometrical designs. The mosque ground also comprises of a cenotaph, a well, a tank for ablutions and a few ruined brick structures.  We then walked out of the city to find the Helical Step Well and the Sakarkhan’s Dargah. Got followed into the step well by a dog who stayed with us for a while. Think he thought we had better snacks – he turned his nose up at our crackers and curry nuts!! The step well dates back to around the 16th century and the steps are supposed to represent the coil of a snake.  Started walking up the hill towards the temple near the top of the volcanic hill but, as it took us so long to get up to the first gate, we realised we’d never make it to the top and back before sunset so we turned round and went back to the bus station. Got a bus back to Vadodara and got the second female bus conductor during our 7 weeks in India but she was also the only one who has been annoying – taking our photo and clearly laughing about us with other passengers. We were glad that we got to sit in the drivers section as there were no seats left on the main bus. Back in Vadodara, we decided to try a new drink – Rim Zim – a masala flavoured soda. It’s fair to say that curry flavoured cola is not something either Jayne or I would buy again… It was disgusting!! Found a cafe near our hotel to have dinner and then stopped for ice-cream. A hot shower to wash off the grime and chilling out watching ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’ on TV. 

Travelling – day 48

Got up early to do some last minute sightseeing before we needed to check out of the hotel and catch our train to Vadodara. Decided to head to the Bhandra fort first. Built in 1411 by the city founder, Ahmed Shah. However, it is clearly under construction and/or being renovated so we weren’t allowed to go past the main gates. Headed out through the market square that was slowly getting ready for the day – certainly took them much longer as they spent so much time staring at us as we walked past!!! Headed towards the Ahmed Shah’s Mosque. Built in 1414 it is one of the city’s earliest Mosques. It has an elaborately carved ceiling with circular symmetry and hundreds of beautiful pillars and jalis. It was very quiet and looked relatively plain from the outside. However, inside was really stunning, full of pillars and carvings. We spent a long time walking amongst the pillars and sitting by the water pond outside. Decided to take a little detour, via the river, to the next Mosque and found a nice park near the river to walk through. The Sidi Saiyad’s Mosque was built in 1573 and was once part if the old citadel wall. Women aren’t allowed to enter the Mosque grounds but we could see the spiderweb fine carvings depicting the intricate intertwining branches of the ‘tree of life’ from the street – it was incredible to think that it was carved from one piece of stone.

We then continued to Jama Masjid. Built by Ahmed Shah in 1423, it is constructed by using building materials from demolished Hindu and Jain temples. There are 260 columns supporting the 15 domes. Opposite the Mosque is a fruit and vegetable market, where I paid a ridiculous amount of money for 2 apples and 2 guavas (80p) but my body is craving fruit!
Headed back to the hotel to have a quick shower, pack and check out. Went to our local restaurant for lunch, stuffing ourselves with tandoori chicken, vegetable rice, fruit juice and water. Waddled down to the station to catch our train to Vadodara. 
2 hours later, we arrived in Vadodara. We knew where our hotel was supposed to be. The plan was to relax and get ready for tomorrow. What we didn’t expect is the torrential rainstorm when we arrived… Or the massive flooding everywhere… Or walking around for 2 hours trying to find our hotel… Or splitting up so I could stay with the bags whilst Jayne kept looking for a hotel that no-one knew where it was… Or, when we found the right hotel, finding out that, despite our booking with Booking.com, we weren’t allowed to stay cause we were foreigners!! At this point, we were soaking wet, covered in Indian street grime (cow shit!!) and incredibly pissed off. Booking.com have relocated us to a hotel where foreigners ARE allowed to stay at – for the same price as our original hotel. So, for the next two nights, we are in a hotel well out of our usual price range, for a bargain price (and wet shoes!!). 
Got in the room, noticed that there was only one towel provided and shouted out really loudlyto Jayne about it; 2secs later there was a knock at the door with another towel. He must have heard me. Eeek! 5mins later another knock at the door with 2 complimentary bags of goodies and toiletries. During the hottest and longest shower ever (getting in with our clothes on as they needed a wash too!) the door knocked again.  Jayne answered it still in clothes, mascara running down her face and her t-shirt now covered in soap. They were 2 guys who knocked at the wrong door and apparently really regretted it once Jayne had finished with them.  Once showered and human again we returned to reception to finish checking in – noticing they had put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on our door – grabbed a coke from the restaurant, wifi codes and are now crashing in bed with MasterChef Australia on the TV. The beds have actual quilts and sheets… We are feeling so spoilt!!!

Ahmedabad – day 47

Decided to spend the day exploring Ahmedabad. The city itself has a long history and many remarkable old-world charm buildings although they get a little bit lost in the crowding and noise of the modern era. Wanted to head out to the local stepwell, after yesterday’s amazing one! Managed to get a TukTuk who agreed to take us for 40INR (a little too easily!!) however it soon became apparent that he had no idea where he was going or what he agreed the fare to be! A couple of stops to find someone who spoke Hindi and English to help him make absolutely sure that we wanted to go to a place that clearly no one ever goes to! Arrived at a very fascinating but equally eerie place. Built in 1499 by a woman of Sultan Begara’s harem, Dada Hari Wav has steps to lower platforms and ends at a small octagonal well. It was absolutely deserted and we got to explore all the different levels and staircases filled with bats, most of which didn’t appreciate visitors so began flying around everywhere!! Two local guys turned up at one point and made us feel a bit uncomfortable – trying to point out different things and telling us to follow them. A firm ‘no’ and they, thankfully, left us alone.     

Came up the steps to wander around the top and watched the monkeys sunbathing. Attached to the stepwell are 2 Mosques. As we got closer, an old man came out and began to show us around. The first Mosque had several tombs inside (and a load of scaffolding poles!!!). Was very bizarre. The second Mosque was beautifully decorated with stone engravings. The ‘caretaker’ let me climb up onto the roof whilst he showed Jayne the crypt/store room underneath the Mosque courtyard. It was beautiful to enjoy somewhere so calm and quiet.   
Decided to walk towards the Calico Museum of Textiles. En route we came across a supermarket (which are rare in India) and decided to stock up on some toiletries. Having destroyed my feet recently by constantly scrubbing them in soap to get the street grim off, I decided to get some body cream. Jayne tried to convince me to get the cream that had SPF in it – I had to keep pointing out to her that it was also whitening cream… She’s so jealous of my flip flop tan marks. She’ll do anything to get rid of them!!! Continued our way to the museum. Heard it contained one of the worlds finest collections of antique and modern Indian textiles so we were really interested in visiting. What we didn’t know is that you have to book, in advance, your entrance to the museum – they only allow 20 people in a day and they get booked up weeks/months in advance. So, we had to rethink our plans! As we were both literally melting in the heat and baring in mind that we had already done/tried to do most of the city’s major ‘tourist’ attractions, we thought we might cool off at the cinema. Decided to head to the ‘multiplex’ as it seemed that the name suggested it might have more films so flagged down a TukTuk. Again, we easily negotiated a price for our chosen destination until, 2 minutes in, the driver stopped and asked someone to help! Seems like they are willing to agree a price first and then work out where we are headed after!! Unfortunately, despite asking for directions, the driver still had no idea where he was going so Jayne had to navigate him using her MapsMe app. It was hilarious watching her trying to tell him where to go – but the driver seemed to love it! Lots of thumbs up, laughing and smiling. Once at the cinema, it became apparent that, although the ‘multiplex’ DID have lots of films, they were all in Hindi!! Decided to walk to the next cinema to try our luck there. The Himalayan Mall cinema had ‘Spectre’ in English(!) but we had to wait 3 hours before it started. Luckily, there was a McDonalds where we were able to buy some food in exchange for their free wifi which we used to booked our accommodation in Mumbai. 
The 18.30 showing of ‘Spectre’ was in the Embony Lounge… It was amazing. Massive, super soft reclining seats, food service to your seat and an interval in the middle to stock up on goodies – all for £3 each.

The film was pretty good too, for a James Bond movie (Jayne is despairing at me for writing that!!). Got a TukTuk back home (he knew where he was going!!) and had a much needed shower before heading to bed. 

Ahmedabad – day 46

Got up early to make the 3.5 hour bus journey to Patan and Rani-Ki-Vav. Asked the hotel how much a TukTuk to the government bus stand would be and he seemed genuinely shocked when I asked if his 30INR was the price for locals or tourists! Got to the bus stand with ease, considering how busy the streets had been when we arrived yesterday – they were grid locked! Asked a local which bus we needed to get to Patan and got a bus pretty much straight away. Clearly a much warmer state than Rajasthan, as the bus became pretty unpleasant and uncomfortable towards the end of the journey – it’s one of the only times I have ever felt travel sick. Arrived in Patan and got a TukTuk to Rani-Ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell). Constructed by Udaimata, Queen of Bhim Deva, in about 1050 A.D., Rani-Ki-Vav is one of the most impressive examples of its kind in existence.  

 Built as a memorial to her husband, it provided water to the community, an opportunity for the queen to commemorate the memory of her King and to worship the God of Water, Varun. 
The practice of digging wells in memory of dead relatives was widely prevalent in ancient times. It is quite remarkable that the construction of most of the stepwells in medieval India were undertaken by women. 
Rani-Ki-Vav is 63m in length and 21.5m deep, covered in sculptures and carvings depicting the astonishing variety of myths from ancient scriptures on its walls. The storage well itself represents the real form of Lord Varun, instead of having a stone idol.    
Covered in silt up until 1960, from the river floods over the centuries, only the top part of the well was seen through vegetation and covered in cement by the locals. It took almost 2x decades to uncover the depths of the well and restore most of its features, with restoration still taking place on some of the statues and idols.  
Jayne had pretty much banned me from seeing any photos of Rani-Ki-Vav until we walked up the path to the stepwell. Knowing full well how different it was going to be from any other site we’d seen so far, the size and grandeur of the site was staggering to behold and no photo will do it justice – even Jayne was giddy from seeing it!  
Spent time walking around inside and around the top, looking at all the different angles and sculptures – we could have stayed for hours. However, the hassle from locals was pretty intense. By far the worst we’ve had so far with cameras pushed in our faces every minute and people following us. Managed to find a quiet area but, as it was directly in the sun, I slowly began cooking and Jayne began melting!! One last tour of the stepwell, avoiding most of the locals with help from the security guard and we headed back to the bus stand. 
Waited for the second bus back to Ahmedabad as the first bus was so hot and smelly we got on and got straight back off again – there was no way we would have managed it for 3.5 hours!! Got off the bus a little earlier than scheduled as I began to feel sick again and decided we’d rather walk for a few km rather than remain on the bus! Found an Internet cafe on our way back to the hotel and booked our accommodation for Vadodara. Had dinner, a long cold shower, then bed!

Travelling – day 45

Set our alarms early so we had time to pack our bags, get breakfast and head to the bus station for a decent time to make our 6 hour bus journey to Ahmedabad. Headed back to Cafe Namaste for a final ‘goodbye to Udaipur’ breakfast – we’ve stayed in that town for 4 nights more than we wanted so, although we were both desperate to continue our journey through India, we were both a bit apprehensive about leaving!! Got a tuktuk straight away to the bus station and got on a semi-deluxe bus which left almost immediately. A relatively simple journey, eating street samosas and crisps, watching the scenery change as we went into the state of Gujarat. It also signalled a change in local peoples attitude towards us!! Rajasthan is clearly a state that receives lots of tourists – locals are used to tourists and always smile at us (sometimes too much!!). According to ‘The Lonely Planet’, Gujarat state gets a random tourist passing through occasionally and you can tell!! The stares here are either of pure lust (being undressed with their eyes) or pure hatred scowling. As we got off the bus in Ahmedabad, I felt incredibly uncomfortable in my 3/4 length trousers and, as we started walking the 1km to the hotel, we got plenty of both stares mentioned above! One tuktuk driver pulled over, looked Jayne up and down, smiled and said ‘porn star’ before driving off. Found our hotel with little problems after getting directions from a local shop keeper (luckily he was friendly and honest!). Much to the managers surprise, we chose the much smaller room at the back of the hotel as it was significantly quieter! After changing into some longer trousers, we headed out to the train station to organise our next few days of visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We were clearly the most exciting thing that has ever happened in the ticket reservation office – think every cashier in the station came to our booth to see us within the 10minutes we were there!! Got sorted and headed back towards the hotel to find something to eat. Found a hotel with restaurant attached to have some rice and noodles before heading back to the hotel to watch a Bollywood film on TV.