Chowpatty Beach was filthy. Nevertheless, touching the sea here marked the start of my journey across northern India.


I was very glad to start my trip by staying in a hostel which, while it was far from the cleanest and best fitted out ever, had a friendly crowd of people staying. Some of us spent the day together, first visiting the city's main Jain temple, and a nearby park in the morning, and then taking the boat over to the caves on Elephanta Island in the afternoon. Several of the group were due to take trains that evening, so checking out how the train system worked with them was beneficial.


Mumbai brought the first experience of trying to dodge the touts outside the station and get inside to find the real foreigner's ticket-desk. Outside, people who look official seem very helpful in telling you the office is not open, or that it's moved, and directing you to somewhere who will sell you tickets at a vast mark-up.