I’m already back in Thailand. That isn’t so much a comment on India as it is a comment on how much I love Thailand.
After 2 days in Chennai I then took a 2 hour flight to Mumbai (Bombay). India has a lot of discount airlines and the pricing is really ridiculously cheap. One of the airlines offered a flight from Chennai to Mumbai for $0. You only had to pay the airport taxes and the national taxes (a total of about $40). I’ve seen cheap flights in Europe, South America, the US and Thailand and other spots (never communist Canada though) but I’ve never seen free! The quality of the service and planes was very good too.
I hardly did anything in Chennai. I stayed at the Sheraton Park hotel there and it was incredibly nice… actually both hotels I stayed at in India were extremely luxurious and way cooler than the great majority of hotel rooms I have stayed in (ie. had 50″ plasma tv screen, wireless phones, high tech massage chair etc). But I did pay an average of $300 USD/night, in India, so I should expect pretty luxurious accommodations. India seems to have some super luxurious hotels and then nothing except medium and lower level hotels… I would have preferred to spend $100-$200 less a night and not had my own personal butler, but the next step down never seemed that nice so I just stayed in the best hotels there.
I went out my first night in Chennai and it was dead quiet everywhere… granted it was a Monday night, but I was hoping to see a few people out. My hotel concierge also warned me that “it’s not safe out after midnight”… not sure what to make of that. But considering everything was so quiet I just decided to call it a night early and not test out the concierges tip.
After having spent 3 quiet days in Colombo and 2 quiet days in Chennai I was chomping at the bit to get to Mumbai, the financial center of India and also it’s entertainment capital (home to the world’s biggest movie industry, Bollywood).
Mumbai was certainly interesting. I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in South Mumbai in an area known as the Queen’s necklace which is a huge bay, ringed by lights, which at night has a beautiful sweeping curve to it.
This area of town would be really beautiful if it weren’t for the scourge that seems to indundate most major cities in the world, even moreso in Asia, smog. At what point do we as humanity tire of having many of our cities shrouded in grey soot??!! The really, really sad part is, we could have sparkling blue skies in many of these cities, if it weren’t for one of the biggest conspiracies in recent history, keeping electric cars off the market, mainly at the hand of the big oil companies who, as all businesses do, have used governments (or the biggest gang in each country, in other words) to do their bidding.
Did you know that there were more electric cars in the early 1900’s than there were gas powered cars? The technology is there to have electric cars that you just have to plug in at night into a regular wall socket, and they are as fast (or faster, check out this vid of an electric car whipping a Ferrari). And if you combined a world full of electric vehicles with a world full of nuclear power generating plants, you have a complete, non-polluting, clean source of energy and blue skies the world over.
Imagine a city, with almost dead silence (just the whirring of electric vehicles) and clean, fresh air. Stress levels would go down exponentially.. being in a city would almost be like a trip to a rain forest, rather than the loud, chokingly polluted cities of today.
For more on electric cars, check out the excellent documentary entitled, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”.
Ahem, that’s it for my off-topic rant for today… now back to this weeks episode, India…
As for my thoughts on India, I really didn’t know what to expect. First of all, I didn’t realize that basically every Indian speaks English (there are over 100 million English speakers in India, so basically everyone who lives in the bigger cities speaks English). That makes it very easy to get around… although, with their Indian accents, combined with their English (as in England) accents, it can be a bit hard to understand them, although no where near as hard as Scotland, where I didn’t understand a word anyone said to me the entire time I was there!
Also, coming from Edmonton and Vancouver, where you see so many Indians wearing turbans… I spent a few days in Mumbai and I think I saw one guy wearing a turban… and it wasn’t those big ones, it was a little light black cloth style one.
The taxis in Mumbai are pretty funny… they are SUPER old Indian cars that look almost like hearses. I asked one taxi driver how old the car was and he said 30 years old, but it looked like 60 years old!
The traffic in Mumbai almost makes the traffic in Bangkok look civilized, safe and serene. I stopped counting how many times my taxi driver honked his horn as he veered INTO oncoming traffic in a never-ending game of chicken. He was basically in a constant motion of small beeps, long beeps and a continual flashing of his high beams… and so was everyone else, making for quite a show.
I went out to some clubs in Mumbai… it appears some of the best clubs in Mumbai are in a suburb of Mumbai called Bandra. I ended up at a club there called Poison which, I was told, is where all the Bollywood stars go. They may have been there too but I wouldn’t know as I wouldn’t know what they look like.
The general nightlife vibe there was similar to big cities of its type… the vibe was a bit cold. For example, I’d walk up to a doorman at a club and ask him a question, like “how is it tonight?” and they would ignore me. Almost made me feel like I was back in Canada or the US. 😛 But there are no shortage of absolutely beautiful Indian girls… I only wish I had more time and better luck to meet some of them on this trip!
In general though, I’d have to say, I quite like Indian people in general and really, really like their food. I used to think of India as not being that cool, but they can be as cool as anyone/anywhere else really… I’d like to go back someday and check out a few other places, especially Bangalore, which I hear is a fun college town.
As I stated before my trip, I was very curious to see India, especially from an economic point of view. And while I was really only there 5 days, and that is no where near long enough to see enough to have any strong/valid opinions, I would definitely say that from what I saw, India is very advanced and could very easily become a major economic powerhouse… they have many challenges, including environmental and sustainability challenges… and likely their biggest problem is they are the world’s biggest democracy… which means they are also one of the world’s biggest bureaucracies… but, given China’s massive government (you have to meet with city, state and national officials to do ANYTHING in China) and the US’s growing police state and, of course, communist Canada, they are all basically paralyzed by big government… so India isn’t too far behind in that race to the bottom.
I’d have no problem going back to India, and in fact, I look forward to my next trip. But coming from unairconditioned taxis in insane traffic in quite dirty streets with quite a lot of poverty and arriving at multi-billion dollar Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok to smiling and nodding beautiful Thai girls, incredibly nice taxi drivers in brand new, air conditioned taxis, luxurious shopping, restaurants and a nightlife that I still discover new places in, every single week, that are better than nightclubs almost anywhere else in the world… I was, as always, very happy to return to Thailand.
In fact, seeing yet another spot and then returning to Thailand has even further reinforced my belief that this country has the potential to be one of the biggest growth countries in the world over the coming decade… and while it has many of its own issues, not least of which is their coup government which appears to be worse than your average democratically elected government (which is VERY bad!) and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to leave office, I think that Thailand has a really good shot at becoming a major world player over the coming years… so, I will likely hang around here for the next month or two… then may go to Canada, although not sure.
I will, more than likely, spend most of the summer in Europe though… I have numerous friends who will all be over there, in various parts… and I hope to visit Italy (Lignano), Croatia, Norway, Finland, Estonia and maybe a beach resort in Russia as well, beginning in June.
Until then, it may be pretty quiet around here… I really should get back to working a bit harder and working out more… I am almost for sure starting a publicly traded gold mining company now, so that will take up some time over the coming few months… plus I am working on a few other deals… and am feeling somewhat motivated and energized to get back to finishing one of the movie scripts I had been working on…
I will likely visit Phuket to do some scuba diving and golfing though, over the next few weeks… and may need to leave Thailand again in the next few weeks for a few days… if so, I may visit Laos or possibly Nepal. So, stay tuned, never too boring over here!