Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Name:
Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Luang Prabang and Happy New Year!

Actually, it'll be in the other order. Firstly, though, apologies if this is in huge type - that's how it appears on my screen and I can't seem to change it. Hopefully it won't appear like that on the finished blog.

Right, with that out the way, on to the next thing to get out of the way: wishing you, dear reader, a Happy New Year. May all your schemes come to fruition. Unless they contradict my schemes, of course...
I shall remain here in Luang Prabang for New Year's Eve. It'll be the third year in a row I've spent New Year's in a foreign country with Trev and Si, and the others have been legendary. So hopefully this one will be too. Anyway, don't expect to hear anything more from me until around the 2nd of January!

With that in mind, I will commence telling you all about Luang Prabang. Situated in North Thailand on the famous Mekong river of mentioned in my last post fame, it contains a Royal Palace. Well, a former Royal Palace. The King was unceremoniously booted out after the 1975 Revolution, you see. It's now a cack museum, but a nice building. It also features lots of great Buddhist temples, or "Wats" as they're known. Prompting surprisingly little "That was a good wat" - "what?" - "yes, wat" etc joking. So we're not completely awful human beings yet.

The main thing about Luang Prabang, though, is the lovely laid back ambience of the place. It's very easy to spend days here doing hardly anything, pottering about amongst the French Colonial architecture buildings, viewing the occasional Wat (don't do it!), sitting by the tropical rivers and eating noodle soup (on which after a few weeks in Southeast Asia I am now an expert - the trick to making it really great is to shove in every condiment they give you: chilli sauce, chilli paste, fish sauce, fish paste, soy sauce, sugar, sometimes more). It's grand. Though it isn't particularly exciting. Kind of like test match cricket - to those who don't get it, nothing really seems to be going on. To those who do, the fact that nothing is going on too quickly is the main beauty of the thing.

PS - Incidentally, if you don't like cricket, you could still like Luang Prabang...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I'm fine!

Howdy,

Sorry that it's taken me so long to write this and set all your minds at rest, but I can explain. Firstly, I am absolutely fine, the massive earthquake that's decimated parts of South-East Asia left the north end of Thailand where we were relatively unscathed. Us 1, Natural Disasters 0. Though we really want to be keeping a clean sheet on this one...

Anyway, the reason I have taken so long to post this reassuring message is that when the earthquake hit at half eight on boxing day morning Thai time I was asleep (though apparently it could be felt in Chiang Mai). I then spent the rest of the day being very very ill due to what would be referred to diplomatically as Christmas Day 'over-exertions'. In fact I couldn't even keep water down as late in the day as eight o'clock.

Since then I have been trying to find an internet place, but I have also been travelling lots. On the 27th we left Chiang Mai and hauled arse to the Thai/Laos border via six hours of nerve-racking bus trips and a lot of even more nerve-racking waiting for the bus. Nerve-racking because we knew the Laos border would shut at around five and weren't sure how close we were, time-wise. But we got across that day, and spent the night in Huay Xai on the Laos side of the Mekong river, of mentioned in Vietnam war films fame. Then today we again hauled arse, this time up said river on a nerve-racking six hour speedboat journey with frequent not nerve-racking stops. The reason for the nerves being racked this time was due to the speed and apparent lack of stability of the boat. Don't worry, we made it. Though Lonely Planet does mention that a certain number of people are killed every year on journeys like that.

But hey, when you've survived the India Bus and Train networks, and one of the world's biggest earthquakes, you're invincible, right?

PS - My long-awaited post about hill trekking in Thailand will follow this soon, I promise.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Hill Trekking, Christmas and the perils of alcohol

Warning - this post contains frequent references to drugs and alcohol and should not be read by anyone under fifteen years of age.

That's got Mum and Dad worried...

So, hill treks. Basically, a bunch of honkies (white people, if you didn't know) go to the mountain jungle (think misty forested slopes, like a Kenco advert but not in South America) and wander around looking at stuff and going "wow". And, in our case, also ride an elephant (nearly falling off more than once) and a bamboo raft (ditto).

Also in our case, however, was our tour guide Pon, a twenty-four year old Karen hilltribesman who went to university as part of the Thai government's scholarship for tribesmen scheme, speaks about five languages, and now makes a living sharking western women who come on the trek. A hilarious man who refers to women (in fact refers to almost everything) as 'chicken'.

He is also a bad influence. On the second day of our trek, at around ten in the morning he stopped in a small village for a break. He then went in to a hut and got some locally brewed firewater that he referred to as "corn whisky", though it tasted more like weak vodka than anything else. Then we drank three bottles of it between four of us (me, Trev, Si, Pon) in about three quarters of an hour to the disbelief and astonishment of the other (middle aged) members of our party. The thing is, it was free drink. I couldn't very well turn it down - it might have been offensive to the tribesmen. Needless to say, the six hours of walking we had to do up and down hills the rest of that day was... eventful.

Having said the tribesmen may have considered it offensive to turn down free booze, it seems unlikely that they would even have noticed, since they were all permanently caned. On the second day, I got up before anyone else, since I couldn't sleep anyway. On blearily stepping out of the hut at about six on a freezing cold morning (we were at quite a high altitude) I saw one of the tribesmen starting the fire. And in his mouth was an enormously fat spliff. They'd been caning the previous night, but at six in the morning!? Pon says they all used to be opium fiends but the government cracked down on it three years ago. Lots of people got shot and stuff and many of them had to go to Chiang Mai for a special cold turkey scheme, but it's worked cos now there's next to no poppy produce in North Thailand. When we asked why the government hadn't also outlawed what they referred to as "green leaf" they just laughed. All the locals basically chain smoked draw all day. Goodness knows what they'd do if it was banned...

Anyway, the trekking was grand, considering that I hate walking (thanks Mum for all that early "let's go for a walk" talk) - the scenery was brilliant, very reminiscent of "Predator".

The second night we drank more corn whisky and sang alongakaraoke round the camp fire to various Oasis/Beatles etc songs. And some great singing was indeed done. Particularly me and Trev's Johnny Rotten version of "Eternal Flame".

The next day (Christmas Eve) we came back, and decided to go out in Chiang Mai that night with Pon. As I believe I have mentioned elsewhere. My this is getting confusing.

So, you already know about that day. Now for Christmas Day. Bear in mind that by this point what with all the above alcohol abuse, walking, lack of water and lack of sleep, I am not at my most alcohol-tolerant, but figuring it was Christmas Day, I was miles from home, homesickness is nasty, and it was Si's birthday we cracked open the rum at about half noon.

Yeah, basically, not a good idea. So that's how I came to be so hungover that I didn't even know about the earthquake until I was travelling and thus unable to comment upon it.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I got back from my hill trek last night, about which I shall write another time. Suffice it to say at the moment that it involved more corn whisky than was perhaps healthy at ten in the morning.

We went out last night with our 'responsible' tour guide who took us to a bar owned by his mate, where we saw in Christmas (which is also my mate Si's birthday) drinking cheap rum and coke and playing pool with the locals. Quality.

Plans for today? Well, it's about half eleven in the morning here, so I'll probably eat some more watermelon (traditional Christmas fare that it is), then drink some more rum. 'Tis the season, folks!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sukhothai

Today we went to the other ancient Siamese capital, Sukhothai. Sukhothai is older than Ayuthaya, and was annexed by the latter in the middle of the sixteenth century, so after that their fortunes tend to run together (specifically they get sacked by the Burmese). All that remains of Sukhothai are a load of old ruins, which add up to another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To get to Sukhothai equied a long bus journey, all the more annoying as the previous day we'd had a boring seven and a half hour train journey fom Ayuthaya to Phitsanulok, where we're staying. The train wasn't an 'express', but an 'ordinary' this time, and the carriage resembled a hospital waiting room on the inside, with seating in the form of benches lined up against the wall, and not in the usual facing towards or away from the direction of travel. And tomorrow we've got a possibly even worse journey from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai - our train leaves at 7.30am and gets in at 4.30pm.

Anyway, back to today. We hired bikes, and spent a lovely relaxing day peddling around the ruined temples and monasteries of an abandoned civilisation and suffering from our colds (it's December, so I've got a cold - the fact that it's hot here apparently matters not).

That's it for central Thailand - Chiang Mai is in the north. Boy am I not looking forwad to tomorrow...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Muay Thai, Ayuthaya

Hello all,

When you last heard from me I was in Bangkok. Now I'm in Ayuthaya, which used to be the capital of what was then called Siam in the olden days, back when it was a city that at the time was bigger and more populous than London (which was possibly dying from gin and/or consumption and/or the plague and/or fires at that point), before the Burmese sacked it and the Thais set up again at the present day site of Bangkok.

On the last night in Bangkok we went and saw Muay Thai kickboxing at Lumphini boxing stadium, a building reminiscent of prtty much every Jean Claude van Damme martial arts competition film I've ever seen. It was a concrete, wood and wire mesh structure with a lit-up ring in the centre and a packed stand full of Thai men frantically betting with one another.
The action itself was not as quickfire and bloody as I'd expected and, let's be honest, hoped, but therew aren't many times or places in life when you can watch kids in their late teens hug and knee each other in the ribs for about six quid, so it was pretty cool. At the end of five three-minute rounds of such hugging and rib-kneeing, the person who had been hit the most was declared the winner, or so it seemed to us. Obviously we didn't quite have the rules down pat...

And so to Ayuthaya on the swish-as-anything Thai trains. We were in second class as well, so god knows what first class is like! Have spent the last two days seeing lots of cool old ruined (and some still in use) temples travelling between them by bike and boat. All very photogenic and evocative. We'll probably leave tomorrow and go to Phitsanulok, from there visiting the other ancient Siamese capital, Sukhothai.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Wat Po, Grand Palace, Wat Arun

Continuing the (childish and perhaps casually racist - you be the judge) amusement I often derive from Thai words (actually, come to think of it, words in any language that sound a bit like English words), the Thai word for temple is 'Wat', pronounced like 'What'. This isn't particularly funny in itself, but combine it with other Thai words and you get places like 'Wat U Mong' and 'Wat Wang', both of which make me laugh rather a large amount.

Anyway, back to the point at hand: There are of course many Wats in Bangkok. Yesterday I went to see some of the most famous and beautiful. We started at Wat Po, a large collection of buildings making up a temple (or a series of temples - not really sure). The highlight of Wat Po is a huge (46m long 15m high) golden statue of a reclining Buddha (Buddha lying down dying and thus ascending to heaven/nirvana, I believe), which is extremely impressive. Though the back side of it reveals a disappointing lack of definition about the buttock region. Not that I go and see Buddhist masterpieces to look at their arses, obviously...

Wat Po is also very impressive just in itself, a large collection of amazing architectural works. They're all done in what I would consider to be very much an oriental style, red and green layered tiled roofs and such. Quality.

This style of building was repeated, but with variation, at the next building complex we went to see, the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace is where the Thai King (they have a constitutional monarchy not unlike the British model except the King is very much loved in Thailand (according to Lonely Planet)) lives, so you can't go in, but you can look at the building from outside, and it is pretty good. Very palatial.

The most impressive part of the large number of buildings in the complex, however, is another religious building. Wat Phra Kaeow (I think that's how you spell it's name but I may be wrong) is the King's own private monastery. By which I mean it's a monastery, but no monks live there - it's reserved as the King's private prayer hall. It's visible from a way off due to three enormous tower type things in front of the hall proper, one golden. Inside the prayer hall is the Emerald Buddha, a jade (yes, jade, not emerald - both green though so that's how the mistake was first made, and the name just stuck, I suppose) model of Buddha that is of immense religious significance to Thai Buddhists. As per the rules with all Thai Buddhist relgious places, be careful not to point the soles of your feet at the Buddha - in Thailand the feet are the lowest and dirtiest part of the body (didn't know they even knew me!) so mustn't be pointed at anyone or put on seats or whatever.

The last temple we saw was Wat Arun, a large Khmer (Cambodian, if you didn't know - the Khmer were an ancient Cambodian people, hence Pol Pot adopting the name for his country-flaying Marxist group the Khmer Rouge) type design across the river from the rest of Bangkok. It's also impressive, though it suffered as a result of me having seen other, larger examples of Thai Buddhist art and architecture on the same day.

All dead good, anyway. Bangkok is going up in my estimations, and it started high. The other day I bought fried crickets from a foodstall by the side of the road - delicious!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bangkok

With India safely left behind, we arrived in Bangkok at around five in the morning, and got the bus to our hotel. We're staying in the Department Store area of Bangkok, as opposed to the Backpacker's area (based around Khao San Road, probably Lonely Planet's favourite road ever, more on which later) or the sex tourist area. Which is not to say that our hotel doesn't have it's fair share of sex tourists. In fact, it's purely sex tourists and us. So firstly, a word on them.

Quite simply, I find them repellant. As most of you who know me will no doubt be aware, generally speaking I'm usually not that repulsed by immoral acts, but there's something so plain wrong about fat sweaty ugly white men flying out here to take their pick of the many Thai hookers, or to marry a catalogue bride. I suppose in a way everybody's happy - the Thais get money, the men are less lonely. But it forever colours the relationship between Thailand and the west. It's got to the extent that every time I see an old white guy around here I assume he's a sex tourist, which is probably unfair a lot of the time. And I can only imagine how much I'd hate westerners if I was a Thai bloke my age.

Right, rant over with, let's get on to my first impressions of the 'City of Angels' (this is part of the real name for Bangkok - apparently Bangkok is just the western name for it, it's official moniker being hilariously long - about twenty words). Well, because, as I previously mentioned, we're in the department store district, my first impressions were of a department store. It was here I discovered a startling and bizarre phenomenon: reverse culture shock.

I've spent so long in India, that when we got in to the department store I was confused and panicky. Everything was so clean and bright and hard. There was so much blank well-lit space. All the products were so clean and folded. And no one spoke to me at all. It was terrifying.

Spent that first day gradually acclimatising ourselves to living in a place so much more like home than what we've been used to. It took a while, but a lifetime of Western ways comes back stronger than two months in India reasonably quickly.

The rest of the day was spent watching the King's Cup International Takraw Championships in the Bangkok National Stadium. Takraw is a game like volleyball, played with two or three person teams, using a light hollow wicker ball about the size of a mini-football, on a court resembling a badminton court. Each player can touch the ball once (as opposed to doing loads of kick-ups) and can use any part of their body except their hands. It's sort of like football volleyball. And it's amazingly athletic - the smash equivalent is generally some sort of ridiculous overhead scissor kick, performed by an oriental man about five foot seven, over a net as high as he is. The man in question then generally lands on his feet, or feet plus a steadying hand. A fantastic sport.

The next day, our second in Bangkok, we decided to go to Jatujak market, since it was a Saturday. This is a giant covered market, the biggest I've ever seen. It's easy and enjoyable to get lost wandering around through the various sections, with stalls selling clothes, hats, belts, shoes, furniture, bags, pets, etc. That's right: pets. Oddly enough Jatujak market is the place to go if you want a dog and you live in Bangkok. We mainly looked at the clothes, though - some cool band T-Shirts, but nothing that I really wanted to buy, though at 180 Baht (about two pounds twenty-five) the price was certainly right. Had it been the last stop on our trip I would have probably spazzed all my remaining wampum on clothing, but as it is, there was no point in me buying two pairs of jeans and having to lug them around for eight months!

After we got bored of the market, went and watched more Takraw, then back to the hotel, where we met our other travelling companion, Si Whitby. He'd flown from Heathrow that day. So from now on there'll be three of us. Yay.

To celebrate the reunion, we went out for dinner and some beers, and watched the Newcastle v Portsmouth football match on TV (Si is a Newcastle fan) in a bar full of Thai hookers who we politely ignored. Going out in our region of Bangkok is actually not too seedy, but again as a consequence of the above-mentioned prevalance of sex tourists, there are lots of hookers. And, again a horrible consequence of these ways of the world, you get to the stage where you assume every Thai woman you see out is a working girl. Which is horrible, because for all I know they might not be. Mind you, it's quite a change from India, where every woman you'd see would fall into one of the old three Maiden, Mother or Crone types, and you wouldn't see many women in general anyway. Here you see more women than men, but as mentioned above, there's a tendency to assume they all fall into another old type.

Today we went to the National Museum Bangkok, and learnt about Thai history. This appears to be a history of the kingdom of Siam warring with Burma lots and lots, being in charge of Cambodia and Laos, and warring with Vietnam a little. Then the European powers turned up, and the history was then the kingdom of Siam trying not to be outright conquered by France or Britain through the means of continually ceding areas of it's land to the foreign interests. Mind you, I'm not too sure about much of it, because the English information at the museum was written in a style that left many sentences completely nonsensical. Such rarely-employed grammatical techniques as ending a sentence with the word "and" were brought out. This, combined with the often amusing names of historical characters such as King U-Thong (childish, I know, but very very funny) meant that much of the time I was near-crying with laughter.

Also today we went to the aforementioned Khao San Road. And it's rubbish. Despite how much Lonely Planet claims it's great, it's in fact a slightly lame stall-lined street full of student clothing, rubbish slogan T-shirts and some bars and bookshops. A big disappointment: If you want clothing and you're in Bangkok, Jatujak market or the MBK Shopping centre are far better bets, it seems to me.

So, can Bangkok topple Mumbai as 'best city so far'? It's too early to say, as we'll still be here for a few more days, and we haven't seen any landmarks yet, but early signs are promising. It is certainly a great place in itself. It's got great shopping facilities, it's clean, the public transport is very good (especially to a man coming from India - here they understand the concept of letting everyone who wants to get off the bus or train before trying to pile on) and the beer is pretty cheap - about 50p for a big bottle from a supermarket, or around one pound twenty from a bar. The only problem is the number of fat old westerners, always making me feel a little bit ashamed.

Who would have thought it - me on the moral high ground!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bollywood, Elephanta, Goodbye India

From now on, I'm afraid, I shall have to get an agent of sorts to write this up for me, or a ghost writer, or something, for I am now a Bollywood star. What the hell am I on about? Read on, dear friend...

It all began late the other evening, when there was a knock on the door of our hotel room. It was the hotel proprietor, not normally a man we'd want to see (in case there's some rule of the hotel we've broken or he wants more money for something or other). But the place we've been staying doesn't seem to have rules posted up, besides which we'd been very good. So what did he want? He wanted to know if we could swim. Er... yes. Why? Because he'd just had a casting agency on the phone looking for honkies who could swim to act as extras in an Indian series tomorrow. We'd be paid 500 Rupees for a day's work, and we'd get all our food and water for free. Oh, but they only wanted one of us. Though the other could come and watch. Were we interested?

Is the Pope still Catholic (I assume he is - I've been away for some time, but I presume the Vatican status quo is still more or less in place)?

The next morning, we left bright and early at 8 o'clock, picked up by our studio contact Ali, and proceeded on foot to another hotel, where we picked up the co-star honky extra, a German hippy girl who'd spent a year in Australia and looked like Lleyton Hewitt. Only with dreadlocks. She was friendly enough, but dull and earnest in the way only hippies can be - absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever, even for a German girl. Oh, and her name was Wibke. And she claimed not to be able to understand us because of our accents. Which coming from a teutonic hippy who spoke English with a German/Aussie twang was somewhat hard to stomach.

Wibke in tow, we headed to the shoot. In line with the style and glamour befitting such stars as ourselves, we travelled by train, and then by rickshaw. Jetset here I come...

The series was called 'Hotel Kingston', and was being shot at a five star beach resort complete with swimming pool and various other sports amenities. We didn't get much of a chance to look around, unfortunately, but we did get a chance to steal four toilet rolls. Well, they're very very rarely provided in Asia, and every penny counts. Besides, five star resort toilet paper doesn't grow on trees, you know.

So we spent the day hanging around on set, watching the (pisspoor) recording taking place, and being called on to act in the background as hotel guests. The continuity of the shots of the same scene from different angles was at best rubbish. In one scene, I was lounging by the pool. A conversation took place between some of the main characters. When shot from one angle, the tete-a-tete took place to my left, when re-shot from another angle, it took place to my right. After the final editing process, I'm going to be teleporting around in the background! Mind you, Trev, Wibke and a couple of Indian extras were playing around with a volleyball in the pool during the shooting of that scene. Goodness knows how they're going to have any continuity whatsoever. Maybe Indian series don't worry about that sort of thing.

Anyway, it was a great experience, and was generally good fun, when we weren't getting contradictory instructions from actors (this happened rather a lot). And the 500 rupees paid for a posh dinner we had that night - I had a very nice Bombay Duck, which is actually fish, and tastes like salty battered cod. Unfortunately, we did have to hang around with Wibke until the end of the day.



Old Jokes' Home
Q: What do you get if you cross an elephant with a rhino?
A: Elephino (Hell if I know, you see. Actually, this doesn't really work in print).

Working jokes or no, the lead tourist attraction of Mumbai is the similarly-named (ish) Elephanta Island. This is a forested lump of rock in Mumbai harbour, some hour and a bit of dull boat trip away from the famous Gateway of India, right near our hotel. On said island are some cave temples. Yay. I haven't seen enough cave temples. These were supposed to be the primo sight of Mumbai, however, so we went to have a look, stumping up the exorbitant fee of Rs110 for the boat, an incredibly cheeky Rs5 "tourist tax" on reaching Elephanta island, and Rs250 to enter the caves.

Was it worth it? Does the Pope crap in the woods? (Again, here, I'm assuming his condition hasn't degenerated to the extent of the head of the Roman Catholic Church running wild). Even if I'd not been over-caved of late, I still would have felt ripped off by this particular set-up. The only thing worth seeing in the caves that you couldn't see much cheaper in other caves elsewhere in India (speaking as a layman here - perhaps the caves are of special historical value and thus important to the cave carving expert) is a giant triple-headed bust of Shiva. That aside, it's pretty much same old. The main difference was that here, when we were sitting down quietly at the edge of one of the caves, a security guard came over and told us we were only allowed to sit down outside. The fact that I've been sitting on and in UNESCO World Heritage Monuments for months now, not to mention having to put up with frustratingly arbitrary and nonsensical Indian bureaucracy, was bad enough. But what really stuck in the craw was that the very same security guard then went and sat down himself! Not even a cheeky "excuse me aren't you only allowed to sit down outside" prompted a response from him - I don't think he understood our point.

All in all, Elephanta Island being it's main attraction is really going to hurt Mumbai's chances of winning "Best City" award at the end of this trip...



Anyway, that's it from India. The next time you hear from me I shall be in Thailand. So long, subcontinent. It's been frequently confusing, frustrating, tiring, bizarre, educational, and occasionally fun...



Apologies:
Sorry to The Muppet Show, Popbitch, the Roman Catholic Church and any and all aligned forces and/or deities.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mumbai

The city formerly known as Bombay was first seen by me through the window of a sleeper bus at about quarter to seven in the morning, as I blearily awoke from the half-doze in which I had reposed for most of the night.

Yes, we've finally left the beaches of Goa, and suitably brown, we hit the town. Mumbai (re-named in the late nineties after Mumba, disappointingly a Goddess of the early fishermen tribes who lived here a long long long time ago (when there was no city), and not Samantha Mumba (what's happened to Samantha Mumba?)) is (shock! horror!) actually discernible as being a city, having architecture, infrastructure and roads, and thus shunning Delhi's building/bomb site aesthetic for one approaching that of a late nineteenth-century British metropolis. Which is pretty much what Mumbai was, absured regionalist politics be damned. For better or worse the British legacy in Mumbai is extremely visible and obvious, from the lovely whimsicality of Bombay University (designed by the bloke wot done St Pancras in London), to the Maidans (expanses of grass on which several games of cricket are played all at the same time by various teams - like a Hackney Marshes only for Cricket), from Victoria Station (now renamed after Shivaji, the main historical Maratha chieftain and thus major historical 'good guy' of the area, who, er, never had a city here) to the Gateway to India (a big Arc de Triomphe type affair by the sea through which the last British battalion symbolically departed before Independence), it's all inherently stamped with good old Blighty. Consequently, for the first time, I actually feel I could perhaps live in Mumbai and not go stark staring bonkers within about a month.

Which is not to say that it isn't also very Indian. There are hawkers and street sellers galore, and a great Market - like Leicester market (if anyone's ever been there) but with less Indians (well, alright, probably slightly more) and with a bizarre mix of goods - electrical equipment sold on stalls next to fruit, chickens next to shampoo. I'm sure it all makes sense to the locals...

Thusly, Mumbai is pretty much odds on favourite to scoop my coveted 'favourite city in India' prize, unless it does something to righteously piss me off in the next few days.

Oh, and it has a McDonalds, so I'm eating meat again. God bless globalisation!