Paul and Rita - India and About, 2005/6 Tamil Nadu


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Tamil Nadu, the most southerly state of India.  Once known as the Coromandel Coast, it has language and poetic literature over 2000 years old.  It also boasts some of the most remarkable temple architecture in India. 

Exchange rate: 1GBP = 78 Rupees, still


Itinerary - click link to jump to day

22nd Feb 2006 - Bangalore to Mahabalipuram
23rd -26th Feb 2006 - Mahabalipuram
27th Feb 2006 - Mahabalipuram to Chennai
28th Feb 2006 - Chennai
1st March 2006 - Chennai to London


Wed 22nd February, 2006

We had not be sure which bus station we were going to arrive at, our guide book showed at least 15 different bus stations in Chennai, and I was fairly sure we would arrive at a different bus station than the one we needed to get the onward bus to Mahabalipuram.  So we were pleasantly surprised to find they've gone and built a huge new central bus station, and we only had a walk to the other side to get a local bus to Mahabalipuram.  The only set back when we were dropped outside the bus station was the elderly, officious, security guard with a big stick, who spoke no language we could recognise, and who seemed to be insisting that we could not take our bikes into the bus station.. A helpful soul asked us where we wanted to go, and passed it on to the guard, who then stopped ranting and let us go.  Strange, really.

Only two hours to Mahabalipuram, bit of a rough bus, and I had to climb onto the roof to load our bikes, but quite a pleasant journey really, especially as the bus had no glass in the side windows so we had a good breeze to keep us cool.   We tried the Tina Blue View Lodge first, had a fairly good write up in our Footprints guidebook, but it has obviously gone down hill since they wrote the review.  It was getting on so we ended up taking a small room at the Shiva Guest House, only 300 rupees, a bit claustrophobic, but it will do until tomorrow.

Quite pleasantly surprised by how quiet the town seems, traffic wise anyway, and there are a lot of foreign tourist here, with quite a few restaurants catering to their whims.  We tried one, with an upstairs balcony, The Galaxy, but had a disappointing veg curry, and the worst rotis I've had in India.  They did have some beer, although I wasn't allowed to leave the bottle on the table, had to stand it on the floor next to the table, obviously they dont have a licence.     

Thu 23rd to Mon 27th February, 2006

Very hot here over the four days we stayed in Mahabalipuram. Didn't get up to much apart from eating, drinking and relaxing.  We changed hotels after an uncomfortable first night at the Siva Guest house, moved on to the posh (by our standards) Mammala Hotel, nice big room with a/c and mini bar! Only took an hour to drink the mini bar dry, of alcoholic content, but don't be impressed, there were only two beers in it!  I found a "wine" shop down the road that was 20 rupees cheaper for a bottle, and replaced what we'd drunk and stocked up with more.  This is the first fridge we've had in our room while we've been in India.  But at 1050 rupees a night, its also one of the most expensive rooms we've had. 

We did manage a walk around the temple / rocky area around the back of the town, one of the main attractions, and a cycle ride around the extremities of the town..  The food in the restaurants we tried around the town was a little disappointing, we liked the relaxed layout of the Blue Elephant restaurant, but was disappointed to find a couple of dead flies in my meal.  Still, it was ok for a relaxing beer or two in the afternoon.

On the Sunday, Rita arranged for us to take some kids from one of the orphanages in the town down to the beach for a couple of hours.  Thanks Rita.  I was a little disconcerted when Rita said the orphanage had 49 children, do they want us to take them all?  Luckily, we met two new friends at breakfast that day, Sally from England and Alfreda from Canada, and they agreed to help us. Luckily there were only ten kids for us to take out. Few! They (the kids)  were extremely well behaved, called us auntie and uncle, and hung onto our hands all the way down to the beach, where we entertained them with a few simple games, and they also joined in with a game of cricket between two of the orphanages in the town.  Definitely a highlight of our stay in the town.

On the Monday morning we packed up and cycled down to catch a bus to Chennai, but finding no bus for an hours or so, opted for a taxi at 700 rupees.  Well, I suppose we've got to get used to paying through the nose when we get back to England in a couple of days.  Checked into the adequate Paradise hotel, next door the Broadlands hotel that we stayed in when we were last in Chennai at the end of 1996.  In the afternoon we walked down to Higginbothams book shop on one of the main shopping streets in Chennai, where I bought a few recipe books (watch out!) and Rita bought a few books as well.  Had a nice Chinese meal in the Spencer Towers Mall food court, and spent several hours declining offers to have a look around gift shops.  

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Tue28th February, 2006

Our last day in India!  Our fight back is at 4am tomorrow morning, so we're going to keep our room until late tonight and get a taxi out to the airport for midnight.  Mixed feelings about going home.  Home?  We dont have a home! We've really enjoyed most of our time in India, and despite the problems we've had on the roads while we were cycling, we'll definitely be back in the future for another long stay.  Not only because its so cheap, the food is great, most of the time, and we like almost all of the people. 

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Wed 1st March, 2006

Arrive back in Heathrow at 9:30am

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