It's me again, Gerry, I hope I didn't scare any of our loyal followers away with my last post. I feel that there is a lot of useful information to be passed on and if it helps just one person then it was worth it.
Well I guess I will continue where I left off. Internet access is something that we definitely take for granted. Our hotel had free wireless internet when we first travelled to Mumbai in April. All we had to do was connect to the hotels network and we were able to get on to the internet. It was slow but manageable. When we recently travelled to Mumbai, and again stayed at the same hotel, and coincidentally, the same room, we had to get a password to allow us access to the hotels network. It took several calls to the front desk and the internet staff, but eventually we were able to get on the internet. It was very slow and we were unable to access several sites, the most important one being our blog. We were told that it was free and so we left it on for hours at a time with hopes that it would connect to the sites that we wanted. Upon checkout we were shocked when reviewing our bill, there was a charge for the "free" internet. A pretty hefty charge of over 13000 Rupees which is over $300 US. After pointing this out to the manager and telling him that we were told that the internet was free, the charges were removed. The moral is that we take free hotel internet access for granted, make sure that you find out if there will be any charges for internet usage before logging on.
Money is always a subject that is important. Carrying US dollars to Mumbai and then exchanging them in Mumbai will give you the best exchange rate. Travellers checks proved to be a great big hassle. The rate is lower than dollars,and it is difficult to find a money exchange that won't charge a fee to exchange them for rupees. It is very safe to carry US dollars to Mumbai, and use the hotels in-room safe to keep them secure. Exchange as much as you need and keep an eye on the exchange rate as it changes daily. Rupee bills come in denominations of 1000, 500, 50, 20 and 10. There are also rupee coins that come in 5, 2, 1 and 50 paise. Try to keep some small rupee bills for taxis and tips, 10 or 20's will work for this. Credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and larger department type stores. The street vendors will deal only with rupees and remember to haggle. Rhonda even got into haggling, and picked herself up 2 beautiful Punjabi suits and a nice pair of hand made leather shoes at half price.
Well I will give one more pointer for this post so as to not totally bore you to death. Something that both Rhonda and I feel is very important to ensure that you have an enjoyable trip to Mumbai is to go with an open mind. Now this is something that you have to work on constantly. Upon arrival, you will immediately be bombarded with so many things that your senses will be overwhelmed. The sights are amazing, you will not be able to take in everything all at once. There is so much beauty, from the architecture of the buildings, and the different and at times contrasting colors of everything, and if you are fortunate enough to travel during a festival time, be prepared to be amazed. Mixed in with this beauty are the slums, which are everywhere. Mostly metal or wooden walls with a blue tarp roof. The overwhelming number of people at any given time is mind boggling, and with this comes the beautiful and intricate designs of the woman's sari's and other forms of clothing. And again, you will also see the slum dwellers and their tattered clothing or at times lack of clothing. The street noise is at times very overpowering. With so many vehicles on the road (I was told that there are 15000 more vehicles on the each day, Wow!!) and they all use their horn constantly, you can just imagine the noise. I can't leave out the smells. Each day you will encounter the beautiful smells of fresh flowers to the overpowering odor of garbage, and everything in between. Now this is where you have to have an open mind. The beauty can be obscured by the dirt and the filth and the poverty, but look through all of this and enjoy it. The people are incredible. We have never encountered anyone who was not friendly or helpful or happy to interact with a "foreigner" Even the slum dwellers seem happy. A good point to remember as well is to not give any money to the beggars. It's hard to do, but you must ignore them or give them a simple "no thank you" and they will go away.
Well, again this is enough for now. I really think that I am enjoying this. Don't worry, my beautiful wife will continue to write her posts. If anyone has any particular questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Posted with love by Rhonda and Gerry W at 7:09 PM