Finally managed to get on to blogger in Dubai. There's some wierd blocking/slowness of internet sites here, I'm yet to figure out exactly what is/isn't blocked.
Anyway, back to Mumbai...
We'd contacted a shipping agent via email before getting to Mumbai because we had limited time as Drew's visa was expiring on the 28th. We went to the shipping agents office up some dark creaky stairs next to a bakery. We explained the rush and asked if that would be a problem and everything seemed to be ok. After discussing various sea/airfreight options we decided on sea freight because of the slightly lower cost for a similar time frame. They called someone while we were in the office and confirmed that there was a vessel leaving at midnight on the 27th which would arrive in Dubai on the 1st of July. We were also told that because they were familar with the customs agents at the sea port they would have an easier time of handing over bribes to get things moving quickly should they need it.
They needed our passports to get the shipping underway, so this meant we were unable to move from the $30/night hotel. Expensive but probably the cheapest comfortable place in Mumbai that would let us stay... One other place we tried which was cheaper wouldn't let foreigners stay. We just stuck it out and wore the cost.
Because we chose sea freight we were then told that we had to get the bikes out near the ports to be crated up. Now this is where a lot of the confusion started. The port we were going to was JNPT, and they said it was 100km out of the city but then after checking on google maps it was only around 60km. We were to meet someone at the Mcdonalds in Pavnel which was about half way to the port. We got out there and had some breakfast and the guy came round to meet us. Then we found out were were only going about 2km to a place to get it crated. Hmm, suspicious. The crating place turned out to be a little shack with a couple of guys who can cut wood it seems. Lots and lots of discussion over the size of bikes and how big the crate would be, and even after measuring they still couldn't tell us dimensions. There were a few phone calls back and forth to find out exactly what was going on and what we had to do. I think they said my bike would end up being 5 cubic meters after crating. Sounded like far to much but they said it would only add another $50 or so to shipping so I opted not to take the front wheel off and make everything more compact. We left the bikes in the questionably capable hands of the three Indians in this shack. They wanted to keep the keys, there was no way I was leaving the keys there.
After that little misadventure it was back to Mumbai to wait it out. A lot of time was spent at Cafe Universial (next to the Hotel) or at McDonalds, or down at the shipping agent. Occasionally we'd break from these three places to have a look around. One morning I got up quite early, went down to McDonalds for breakfast and then off to try and find a Vodafone shop to get more data on my phone. Unfortunately most things are closed on a Sunday in Mumbai.
I stumbled round some more looking at lots of closed shops, then ended up near Churchgate station and figured this was near the ocean so I went to have a look.
Along the way an Indian guy just happened to say hello and wanted to practice English by talking to me. I said OK, and then he followed me around and chatted about random things. He was starting a new job in a call center the next day and needed English to talk to people from other parts of India (Hindu is the national language, but most of the south speaks Tamil as a second language, and they get taught English anyway).
|The appealing coast line of Mumbai.|
Lots and lots of taxis on the road to India Gate, which of course lead to lots of horn noise and stupidity of traffic.
|Next to India Gate: The Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the two big hotels the terrorists attcked in 2008.|
|Bit rough out there.|
After this little sight seeing trip I headed back towards the hotel, this guy still in tow. Eventually the conversation got to living costs and similar. When I first met the guy he was just happy that he could tell his friends that he met a native English speaker (barely) to practice with before going to his new job. But then he started saying how he'd like to have a new shirt for his job and how he couldn't afford one right now. He showed me how he only had 150Rs in his wallet and how a new shirt would be 300Rs. So eventually, he asked if I could help him out. Now it seems like a very long time to go through this spiel to get enough money for a new shirt. Not much money for that much time so I suppose he was genuine. But I gave him 150Rs so he'd have enough to get a new shirt because he helped me out at the phone shop and showed me around a few places. I didn't want to give him the full 300Rs, he should use some of his own money and if he really wants that new shirt (which he said he really needed) then he'll have to do without something else to get it.
The next day we decided to go back to the shipping agents to get our Carnet and Passports back. And of course, neither of them were there. They told us to come back the next day. Right.
Off to do more looking around Mumbai to waste time.
|I just wanted a photo of the car and the wall, turned out better than expected though.|
|More suprisingly clean beach.|
They gave us invoices for the shipping, turned out to be the same as what they quoted, but a few hundred more to make it look random. One of the lines had some random name, but on mine it was 500Rs more. They explained this as the bribe money for the customs agents, apparently it cost 500Rs more to bribe the officers for my bike (yeah right).
The next day we packed, organized a taxi and had some lunch before turning up to the office. And you guessed it. They didn't have the Carnet this time either, it was still somewhere else, but they assured us that it would be there within half an hour. We said we'd wait. We counted out all the money and paid and after half an hour, still no carnets. We couldn't wait any more as we had to get to the airport. They said they would be shipped overnight to the agent in Dubai where we can collect them. That would have to do, we have no other options any more. We also confirmed that the bikes were at the docks and ready to be loaded on that night to get to Dubai by the 1st, and all was good, no problems there.
Then it was off to the airport.
|This is right across the road from a slum, luxury.|
|Who get's right of way here?|
Then it was the long boring process of Immigration, then another hands on security check. Also make sure the carry on luggage has tags and is stamped because that stamp is checked after it has been X-rayed. Yep, the stuff you have to put through the x-ray machine has to be verified that it's been through the x-ray machine directly after it's been through the x-ray machine... Gotta keep the people employed there I guess.
While enjoying some fine airport food I received two messages on my phone. The first one that the plane had now been delayed to 10:30pm, and then after much vocalisation of annoyance of this there was another message saying the flight had been only dealyed until 9:30pm. That's better, but still not Ideal. We wasted more time and the person who checked us in had found us in the airport and told us that the flight would in fact be leaving on time after all, so can we get to the gate in 10 minutes.... WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY.
Dubai is an amazing city though. Such a welcome change from India. But more on that when I can upload photos.
Today I emailed the shipping agent again reminding them to give me the vessel and container numbers that I asked for two days before. Armed with this new information I checked a few websites and find out that the vessel didn't dock in Mumbai until Today (two days after they said it would) and that it wouldn't arrive in Dubai until the 7th... Of course the shippers knew this on Wednesday, why can't they just be honest and tell us?
The 7th is a Thursday, and Friday and Saturday is the weekend here, so it's not likely that the bikes will be accessible before the 10th, and who knows how long it will take to get them out of the port. We're stuck here for a while and I'd have no problem with that but it's expensive to stay. But THANK GOODNESS IT ISN'T INDIA...