Busride from Hell

A 19-hour bus drive. That’s not too bad.

Or so we thought.
After sitting on the pavement of a hot, busy street for what seems like ages, our bus stops a few hundred metres away from us. As we are entering the bus, we are greeted by a handful of local guys right by the driver’s seat, loudly exclaiming “nice” as they stare us down. Creeped out, we go to the back of the bus to get to our top sleeper. As we climb the ladder, the guys go absolutely nuts. They are laughing, yelling and pointing, just because they got to see us bend over to get into our sleeper. Great. At this point, I am 90 % sure we are going to get either robbed or raped at night. I am extremely terrified, so we try to keep our spirits high by singing children’s songs about bad busdrivers.

But it gets worse.
The sleeper is disgusting. It’s old, worn down and downright dirty. It has to be the smallest, most expensive double sleeper we have ever been in, with no AC either.

But it gets worse.
The bus barely drives anywhere for the first five hours. It will drive for 10-20 minutes, then stop for an hour, then drive for another 10 minutes, only to stop for several hours again. Not having AC on the bus is acceptable when you’re actually driving, as the wind cools you down, but being parking for hours directly in the sun with no curtains to block the warm rays is awful. The mattress and blankets under us gets soaked with our sweat. We are getting increasingly annoyed. And the bus keeps stopping. We realise that it doubles as a delivery service, as we stop just to unload packages, and at one point, all the guys are outside, trying to lift motorbikes to the roof and then attach them. This gives the bus a slight tilt, which is just great when your driver is a maniac behind the wheel.

But it gets worse.
The road is so bumpy, and our bus is driving so fast, that our bodies actually elevate and we bump our heads into the ceiling, even though we are lying straight down. It’s like a long rollercoaster ride that you never asked for.

But it gets worse.
We get our only toiletbreak 9 hours into the ride, but we both have to pee long before that. I blame the bumpy road punching our bladders. Sara is so desperate, she takes out a plastic bag and asks me if it’s OK if she pees right in our sleeper, into the bag. Of course I say no, the girl has no aim and the road is bumpy, and I don’t want to spend 15 hours on a pissed-soaked mattress.

But it gets worse.
At one point, I pull aside the curtain that seperates our sleeper with the rest of the bus, and to our surprise, the bus is completely full. So full, that people are sitting on the floor of the bus. We are the only tourists on the bus, and as soon as I pull aside the curtain, people notice us and we are now the most interesting thing to look at on this bus. I close my eyes, enjoying the breeze coming from the window, drying my sweat-soaked clothes a bit. All of the sudden, Sara starts screaming, and I really think it’s because she has to wet herself, since we had had no toilet breaks. No. Big spider crawling right next to me. I freak out completely, find a reciept and try to squish the son of a bitch, but it slips away and crawls out of the sleeper. Except it didn’t really. So 5 minutes later it is back for more, and I brutally kill it in front of several locals just staring at the only blonde person on the bus, who is letting out a victorious laugh.

King of the world

Our 19-hour bus ride turned into 22 hours, of course. We only had an apple and some crackers each all day, one pee break, and so many horny locals around us in this confined space. This was without a doubt a busride from Hell.

Bombaystic Mumbai

I wish I could tell you the story of how we went to Mumbai and saw everything there and took lots of pictures and were extras in a Bollywood movie and had the time of our lives. Sorry to disappoint.

On the bus, as we get off it to have our only toilet break that night, instead of available toilets, I am sent off to pee behind a bush. Not only is is pitch black outside, I am also very worried that the bus will leave without me, so I hurry up and relieve myself behind a friggin’ bush. As I walk back, a girl, Jill, jumps out and begs me to not let the bus leave without her, as she is running towards the bush now.

We arrive in Mumbai early in the morning, and Sara feels a bit sick and I want a shower more than I could want World Peace or a million dollars. We get into a cab, arranging to meet later at a café with Mike, Jill and a girl named Victoria. We take a long time agreeing on a price with our driver, and as we get in, another driver/businesspartner gets in with him. We start driving, and the deal we made with the driver is out of the window. When we come to a stop in traffic, we get out and start getting our luggage, until they both agree to lower the price a bit, but it is far from what we initially agreed on. They’re upset, we’re upset, and there’s just no winning this, but we’re sick and tired and dirty, so we stay in the cab. Turns out that not only is our hotel nearly impossible for taxi drivers to find (then again, they seem to know the city as well as we do), it is also very far away from the bus station. We drive through neighbourhoods consisting of old, worn-down buildings, “nicer” slums and a whole lot of pollution. At first I think it’s just a very foggy day, until someone tells me it is actually dirty air. How nice.

We are staying at Bentley Hotel Churchgate (on Marine Drive), and it is better than we could have ever expected. Our room is so big and clean, with a vanity, air-con, a couch and a safe box omigoshyouguys! The bathroom is out of this world, compared to what we’ve had to deal with lately, although showering is still just pouring a bucket of water over your head.

Shower time


We put on our Salwar Kameez’/Punjabi dresses that we bought in Delhi, and go to Leopold’s for lunch, with all the men outside yelling “Bollywood extras!?” It has been on my bucket list for ages, but with two days in Mumbai and Sara feeling sick, it seems that will have to wait until next time. Oh well. We break our vegetarian streak by eating a Caesar salad, and I actually feel bad about it. I was kind of proud of myself , since I am a huge fan of meat. After that, we walk around for like an hour trying to get a taxi that isn’t trying to scam us, and of course we almost rip each other’s heads off in the process.

We take a nap at the hotel, hoping that it will make Sara feel better, but it doesn’t. We have to meet up with our friends from the bus at 7 though, so we get out of bed and into a cab. Our driver is hilarious, saying he doesn’t want our money and proceeds to ask us if we “like Indian banana?” I am appalled, thinking he means he wants something other than money as payment for the ride, but then suddenly he gets out an actual banana and hands it to me, insisting I keep it. Needless to say, we payed him, ’cause that was just plain weird. At Leopold’s (again) we meet Mike, Victoria and Jill. A big meal, 6 huge Kingfisher’s and a banana covered in ketchup (that I actually eat on a dare) later, it’s almost 11 at night, which seems to be a dangerous time to be out as a white girl in India. We all say goodbye, I get Jill’s number in case she wants to hang out before her flight the following night, and we head home.

Next morning, Sara isn’t feeling any better, but we have a lot to do on our last whole day in Mumbai. After breakfast at the hotel (more masala chai, yum!), we take a long taxi ride to a much recommended, super hard to find travel agent. Holi Festival is coming up, and we have been thinking about celebrating it in Pushkar, as alcohol is not allowed there. Sara is concerned for our safety during such a big celebration. Well, no one seems to be able to get us to Pushkar in time, so instead we book a bus to Udaipur. We’re so spontaineous, ha ha.

We go see the Gateway of India, which is kinda underwhelming, but it gives us a reason to take a picture of me.


Close by there is an Indian Starbucks which means air-con! We head in and grab something to drink, share a cake, and Sara steals a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. We are so cultural.

Next thing on our list of things to get done is to find a charger for the computer that we brought. After another drive with a confused man behind the wheel, we find a place where the nice people promise to order one and bring it to our hotel – and they even agree to take a look at my camera too, but can’t promise anything. Well, a few hours later, a guy brings us our stuff to the hotel and we are beyond excited… Until we realize a part of the charger/adaptor is missing! I call the company, but no one understands me, so the nice receptionist at our hotel talks to them for us, but it doesn’t help. Instead, he gives us directions to a department store that’s closing within an hour, where we can find plugs, so we run down to Asiatic and pick up a plug, along with some colours for Holi. Day saved!

We then watch the sunset from Chowpatty beach, which is right across the street from the hotel. It’s so beautiful, that everyone gathers at the beach to look at the drowning sun, even the crabs. Sara and I sit there for a long time, just watching the crabs have an epic duel.

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We have a late dinner at Pizza by the Bay, where we also had lunch (we’re repeat offenders). The lunch was amazing and the dinner good, although I underestimated the amount of chilli flakes on my pasta, and I end up eating less than half of my portion. The waiters are all very nice, but I think they are a bit offended that I don’t finish. Still a bit hungry, but unable to finish my pasta, I order dessert, and so does Sara. Halfway through my cheesecake I am full. Once again, the waiters seem to think I hate the food, and it’s really awkward.

I’m a bit bummed we didn’t see more of Mumbai, but we definitely needed more time. Even though it is more populous than Delhi, it doesn’t seem nearly as crowded or aggressive, and therefore not as scary for a tourist. While a lot of what we’ve seen are poor neighbourhoods, the cleaner parts of Mumbai has some amazing architecture (Central train station, High Court and so on) that reminds me a bit of Europe. It seems very different from the flamboyant India, with the bright colours and details, we’ve seen so far. I thought wearing a Punjabi dress would make us blend in more with the locals, but not only do a lot of them wear more “western” styled clothing, it also gives us more attention than ever. Especially from men. I will definitely recommend any tourist doing it though, as people really seem to appreciate that you try to blend in, and I’ve gotten so many compliments on my dress!