David's Blog

Living a quiet life in Coquitlam, B.C.

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Location: Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 2006 Trip to Mumbai India

Well, I thought it was time to post (belatedly) a little about my recent trip to Mumbai (Bombay), India. Our flight left Vancouver July 8 at 2:55 am. We arrived in Hong Kong July 9 at 7:10 am. Having a 7 hour wait in Hong Kong, I had some time to explore the airport. It is very clean and modern, with many stores to visit. However, I did not find the prices to be as good as I expected, especially considering that the stores claimed to be duty free. Perhaps these stores think, because they are airport stores, they have a captive consumer. So duties may not be applied, but prices are raised to put some extra cash in the merchants’ pockets. I don’t know for sure what the reasons are. In any case, I found lower prices in Mumbai. For example, the duty-free liquor store in the Mumbai airport sold identical bottles of liquor for about 25% less than the duty-free store in the Hong Kong airport (The other nice feature of the Mumbai airport is that it is probably the only airport in the world that has lounge chairs in which a person can actually stretch out and take a nap).

The connecting flight left Hong Kong at 2:15 pm and arrived in Mumbai at 7:30 pm. Whew! Finally! And I lost a day flying over the International Date Line (Oh well, I’ll get that lost day back when I fly back).

My stay in Mumbai was good. The hotel was excellent: The Renaissance Mumbai Hotel & Convention Centre in Powai (Powai is a part of Mumbai). They offered a good variety of English-language television and a buffet breakfast was included with the room.

Visited other parts of Mumbai too, for example, Ghatkopar and Bandra.

Overall, Mumbai seems to be constantly under construction. It is very crowded and traffic is a nightmare—similar to traffic in the Philippines. There are some very poor parts of town, and there are some sections that look like the shopping areas of North America.

Security was present everywhere. I think it may be that security guards are so cheap that everybody hires one, so every building seemed to have at least one.
While I was there, the seven bombs went off on the West line, shutting down one of the major rail lines (the other main line is the Central line). It also made security even tighter. Previously, to get on to the hotel grounds, we had to go through a gate at which the guards even checked out the bottoms of vehicles with mirrors. And then at the hotel itself, another group of security guards checked out any big bags and pieces of luggage. After the bomb blasts, security got even tighter; the hotel staff added a metal-detector at the hotel entrance and all guests had to get checked out. Even laptop bags and purses. It was just like what a person goes through at an airport.

Besides the added security presence everywhere, and everybody talking about it, the bomb blasts did not otherwise affect my trip. I did not see or hear the blasts directly myself, not did I meet anybody who had. Nor did I meet anybody who had been injured in the blasts or know anybody who had been. The only affect it had on the people around me was that, at some of the companies I was visiting, because of the transit shutdown, many people could not get home so they were sleeping in their offices.

And that’s about as close to excitement as I got on my trip to Mumbai.

The trip back to Vancouver was quick and easy. The flight left Mumbai July 14 at 4:50 am. Arrived in Hong Kong at 3:30 pm. This time, I only had about an hour to make it to the connecting flight: The flight left Hong Kong at 4:35 pm and arrived back in Vancouver at 1:45 pm (July 14). It is good to be home.

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