I landed in Mumbai on the 4th January 2015 at about 00:05, but I had to wait a whole hour before I got out of the airport to see Pooja!
I got to meet Abhishek and his friend before being greeted by Pooja’s whole family on my arrival at her home. Mumbai was so warm compared to the UK and I was so tired I slept like a log before being woken up to the sounds of the crazy car honking in the city.
My 12 hours in Mumbai
In the short time I was in the city Pooja took me to her local salon where I got a manicure and pedicure. I then got whisked around on a whistle stop tour of the Gateway to India, Leopold Cafe and Caster Road before we headed to a roof top bar for some pre-departure drinks.
On our drive around I witnessed some absolutely mental driving, I’ve seen whole families on the back of a motorbike, unbelievable overtaking, decorated lorries, unstoppable rickshaws and complete overuse of car horns. We also drove through a Muslim street party festival by chance.
The Overnight Train to Bhuj
Never having been on an overnight train I didn’t really know what to expect. We had 2 bunks in a compartment with curtains, bedding and blankets. Being midnight we made the beds, locked up our bags and I tried to get straight to sleep. It was the weirdest sensation ever, I was being rocked in the opposite way I expected and then by the time I went to sleep I woke up screaming thinking I had a rat crawling across my chest! (It was just a dream). We woke up in the morning at our destination Bhuj.
Joining the transfer at the station we headed off on the 2 hour drive to the campsite at the edge of the White desert near the Pakistan boarder. The campsite and people were so nice, and I found the food amazing.
We did the White desert twice, once at sunset and then again in the full moon. The desert is white as its a dried up monsoon lake that’s left behind the saltwater residue. When there we rode camels, posed for pictures and enjoyed the cultural music.
On the second/third day we went out on a tour to Gahndi Nu Gamm village of craft, where the locals were so colourful and the women so beautifully decorated. We also visited Kalla Dungbar the highest point in Kutch, Swaminarayan Temple and a second crafts village. The local crafts of the state of Gujarat are mirror work and embroidery.
Most of the places we saw had been hit by the 2010 earthquake, the villagers lived in new mud huts and some of the temples had been rebuilt from scratch, but the history of area was quite prominent.