Our last long journey in India consisted of a bus ride. Although we’d both done buses in India before, neither of us knew quite what to expect as we’d booked a sleeper bus (with berths rather than seats). We were both looking forward to leaving Ooty, as in the three days we’d been there it had more or less rained constantly, and it was cold enough that once wet, clothes would not dry. Once on board the bus, we relaxed in our reasonably spacious beds. The first hour or so was full of bends in the road, making the journey a bit unpleasant, but after that it was reasonable enough – I even managed to get some sleep overnight – the first journey in India where I’ve slept at all! We arrived in the sprawling city of Chennai the following day at 6:30am, and at that point, we managed to get a taxi for the remaining 60km to the seaside village of Mamallapuram. On the way, we saw a couple of tributes to Michael Jackson on huge roadside billboards – slightly odd but unique I guess.
Mamallapuram is definitely not cold – it’s pushed 40 degrees a couple of times, so there’s definitely no more complaining about the weather – plus it’s not rained once! The beach here is one of the nicest we’ve seen, and as the monsoon is nowhere near as advanced as on the west coast of India, it actually feels like everything is still up and running. There’s none of the protective blue tarpaulin we’ve seen elsewhere, and all the fishing boats are still up and running here, which makes for quite a different feel from Goa and Kerala. Tourism is definitely at it’s peak here, and there seem to be almost as many foreign tourists as there are locals – a few hippies who have gone feral as well!!!
We’ve existed here for the last three days on a diet of seafood and curries – we’ve had some delicious food. However, many of the restaurants here seem to cater for a very western palette, and one restaurant last night did not even do chapattis, but did do some Indian food – we walked out in disgust! However, all the fish we’ve had seems to have been freshly caught, making it all the more delicious. Furthermore, the hotel we’ve stayed in – Sea Breeze Hotel – has been an excellent final stay for us, with a large and very clean pool for us to cool off in!
While we’ve been here, we’ve also been browsing the sights in this area. Mamallapuram features an impressive set of temples and carvings cut from the rock in the area – there are ancient 1400 year old temples cut from entire boulders here. Many of the carvings are very well preserved, making for very interesting viewing – particularly some of the areas which are free for the public to view. The Shore Temple and Five Ratha attractions require you to pay to get in, but they are still well worth it – the large life-sized carved elephant is a sight to see, and is apparently one of the best in India.
Tonight we fly from Chennai airport to Hong Kong, where we’ll spend four very busy days trying to pack in as much as we can! I’m looking forward to some delicious Sweet and Sour Chicken, Hong Kong style of course – although not so much to the 3am flight!!
..and finally a video of us enjoying ourselves by the poolside.
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