Flying to Mumbai, India (Bombay)

19 Jan 2008

I write to you, whilst aboard a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg to Mumbai, India (Bomba). Last time I wrote I mentioned how excited I was that the India trip was so close to happening. Well, the visa was sorted out in record time - congratulations to the India High Commission in Johannesburg for literally issuing a visa to me within 2 days (and I stay in Cape Town, so the two days includes the time taken to courier and fly the visa from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back!).

Rupee shortage at O.R. Tambo

Judging by the shortage of Indian Rupees at the forex companies at O.R. Tambo Airport, there are clearly not that many people travelling from Johannesburg to Mumbai, or for that matter anywhere in India. I checked with Rennies, with Amex, with ABSA and with another bank whose name I cant remember - no Indian Rupees :( Luckily one of the ABSA forex workers made a phone call and found some crisp rupees :) Kudos to ABSA. I have stuffed my wallet with their Indian Rupees. It cost me R3,554.45 to purchase 13,500 Indian Rupees, which boils down to an exchange rate of 3.8 Indian Rupees to the Rand. Excluding commission (R52.42) and VAT (R7.34) the cost was R3,494.69 (3.9 Indian Rupees per Rand).

ABSA Bureau de Change at O.R. Tambo Airport

Electric connections at O.R. Tambo not working

I hunted around for an electric socket that actually provides power and then did a mini survey (3 out of 7 of their electric sockets work). I have on previous occasions written about how good the wireless connections are at O.R. Tambo I was dissapointed to find that the wireless hotstpot doesn't reach all parts of the airport, and had to retrace steps to find a spot which is connected.

Photo of Lufthansa plane

While waiting at Johannesburg Airport's international departures, I snapped a clickie of this Lufthansa Boeing 747 (not sure if it's a 747-400 or a 747-300).

Lufthansa plane

Hanging with the cricketers

The Indian Under 19 cricket team was on the same flight as us. Cricket is much like a religion in India, a common language which everybody talks, and through which Indians relate to the rest of the world... e.g. "I'm from Cape Town" ... "Oh Cape Town, Newlands cricket stadium is there".

The vegeterian meals

Vegeterian meal or fish, was the meal cry of the air hostesses...unfortuanately vegeterian was in big demand and they ran out. I was entertained by a couple of people who took the fight for vegeterian cuisine to the air hostesses (who got the purser to chat to them...they still didn't get the non-existent vegeterian cuisine).

Landing at Mumbai Airport

We landed in Mumbai at midnight, but the airport was busy even at that time, and our plane had to slow down to provide space in the queue to land. As the plane landed I noticed a lot of high rise buildings...guess they need them to accommodate Mumbai's millions. After a lot of taxying, we disembarked. There is some construction going on at Mumbai Airport, and I walked through a number of temporary gangways. At the airport I got through customs with absolutely no trouble, they were efficient. The baggage arrived almost (but not quite) as slowly as ACSA takes.

Mumbai airport temporary gangway

Getting to the Leela Hotel

I was booked in for the night at the Leela Hotel ($320 for a night, was $80 3 years ago), which is about a 5 minute drive from the Mumbai Airport. I tipped the Leela Hotel driver 50 Indian Rupees for driving me there. Had a good night's rest and then breakfast in the morning. Breakfast is much like those in hotels in South Africa...although they did not have the crunchy breakfast cereal I usually enjoy, and there was bread and butter pudding available (which I, of course helped myself to!).

Porters at the Leela Hotel

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