We obviously tempted fate by posting our last blog before we left India and things certainly didn’t go smoothly for us when we got to the airport to say the least. We had checked in and were going through immigration, boarding passes in hand, when the guy who should have stamped our passports told us that our visas had expired and sent us to an office where there was more bad news in store for us.
We were told that we had overstayed by 11 days (this wasn’t really our fault as the Indian Embassy in Indonesia had issued us the wrong visas - we should have been given 6 months and were only there for 6 weeks) and that we needed to go to an office in the centre of Mumbai to sort it out. If this wasn’t bad enough we were then told that the office would be closed until Monday due to public holidays and that we definitely couldn’t leave until then. It was Thursday when it happened.
After our bags had been taken off the plane and returned to us we were free to leave the airport. Slightly bizarre as we were in the country illegally at that point but definitely preferable to being detained by the Indian authorities. We initially decided to go back to Goa until the Sunday night and bought bus tickets but later decided against that plan so we got a partial refund, bought a bottle of rum, and got a hotel room in Mumbai.
On the Friday we went down to the office on the off chance and were pleased to find out that it was open on Saturday so we went back then and after filling in a number of forms, being sent between about seven different people many times and paying a fine we were cleared to leave on the Sunday.
This whole episode, especially as it involved dealing with Indian bureaucracy, was a bit of a nightmare but Mumbai isn’t actually the worst place to be stuck as it is quite a good city, or has nice parts to it at least. On the Saturday we met up with a guy called Huzi (a friend of one of Ellie’s friends) at the Hard Rock Café where he works to have lunch.
That night he took us to an outdoor rooftop bar in Colaba which was really cool and it revealed a slick and stylish side of Mumbai. Each table was set in it’s own gazebo and the waiters would supply shisha pipes, drinks (non-alcoholic) and amazing food to all the tables with slick house music playing in the background. There were also awesome views of the city from the roof.
We had a really good night and then got up early the next day to go to the airport again and this time left the country without any hitches.
As a result of being stuck in India we unfortunately missed a party that Ellie's friends had arranged for us in Cheltenham but were still welcomed home by Ellie's parents with some nice food and wine and went out for lunch with friends on the bank holiday Monday.
We got the train up to Edinburgh on the Tuesday as planned and were welcomed back by Mike's family when we arrived.
On the Saturday we had a night out in Edinburgh with some our mates.
We thought it would be a good idea to list our top 10 activities to remember the trip as a whole. It was hard to decide and we had to miss out things like our trip to the equator line in Equador and cycling down death road in Bolivia but here are our top 10 (in chronogical order)...
Scuba Diving in Utila, Honduras - We had a really enjoyable week where we completed our advanced PADI courses and had some good nights out on the island with the people we were sharing a house with.
San Blas Islands, Panama - Picture postcard islands which were incredible to explore.
Tayrona National Park, Colombia - Unspoilt Caribbean paradise where we camped in hammocks for a couple of nights with Jas and Clint
Machu Picchu, Peru - Cycling and trekking up to the famous ruins was all it is cracked up to be
Salt Flats, Bolivia - Amazing landscape and a good 3 day tour. This was almost the only time we were cold on the trip and provided us with a very short winter!
Christmas at Milhouse Hostel, Argentina - This worked out really well as lots of people had arranged to meet up and spend Christmas together. The xmas dinner we all cooked for 70 people wasn't bad either!
Cycling around Mendoza wineries, Argentina - A really enjoyable day buzzing between the wineries on bikes and sampling the produce en route.
Australian Open Men's Semi Final (Nadal v Verdasco) - We were unbelievably lucky to be given free tickets to this five set classic as we were preparing to watch it on the big screen outside.
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia - A relaxed, chilled out island with friendly locals where we had a really good week with a decent bunch of people.
Backwaters Trip, Kerala, India - Crusing around the backwaters on a houseboat with just the two of us, the captain and a personal cook whilst drinking lots of rum is something we'll always remember.
AND OUR TOP TEN FOODS...
Lobster at Lobsterfest, Caye Caulker, Belize - This weekend was all about the lobster which is never a bad thing!
Mike's Birthday Cake, San Jose, Costa Rica - Probably the best chocolate cake ever made...
Continental Style Lunches, Colonia, Uruguay - Lazy afternoons spent eating nice meat, cheese and salads which often extended into evenings of drinking.
Steaks in Argentina and Chile - This speaks for itself really!
BBQ's in New Zealand and Australia - There's no excuse for not getting involved in the national pastime.
Dumplings in Melbourne, Australia - Alex and Nicole took us to their favourite Chinese restaurant and we had no idea that dumplings could be this good.
Food Halls, Singapore - Very cheap and lots of exotic food to choose from
Noodle Soups from street stalls, Indonesia and Thailand - Really tasty and healthy noodle soup. Always a winner.
Veg Curries, India - Vegetarian curries in India are not to be missed.
Seafood, Goa, India - Fresh seafood served on the beach at ridiculously low prices can't be beat
As this is our final blog we thought we'd take the opportunity to thank all of you who read it and to say that we've really enjoyed putting it together and had a fantastic trip.
Mike and Ellie