Day 218: hello Mamalappuram!
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We got up at a reasonable time this morning, had a banana each and made our way to the bus station with the help of an expensive auto ride.
At the bus station there were many many people. There were busses everywhere and not so many signs about which bus was going where. Luckily we stand out like sore thumbs (I think that is the expression) and it wasn't long until we were asked by a few men where we were going. We told them that we were going to Mamalappuram which isn't pronounced like that at all, but is spelt that way. They all said it to each other until one finally said manamsjdhfhfunr or something to similar extent and they all breathed a sigh of relief and agreed with one another that this was where we were going. 'Ok follow me, follow me' they chanted. We followed.
We were led right onto a lovely air conditioned coach, with underneath storage and a seat each! This was unlike any bus ride I have had in India. Last time we were crammed in a bus with our packs on our laps, small ladies almost sitting ontop of us too and surrounded by live chickens in cages. Is this a dream? I asked myself.
It wasn't. We arrived in Mamalappuram 2 hours later refreshed and ready to start our India adventures. Off the bus we hopped, was greeted by an auto driver who quoted us less than half of his Chennai counterparts and who took us to a really nice hotel by the beach, next to the oldest temple in the area. The hotel was so nice and we were sucked straight in. Compared to our last three nights in Chennai, this was a palace! It is beginning to come down off tourist season in India now so the owner of the hotel dropped the price for us from 1600 rupees to 800 rupees per night. This is about 16 aud. It was a huge room with a king sized bed and another single bed, a bathroom with a western toilet, hot water, a balcony and our own towels. There was also a lovely breeze coming off the ocean and into our room. The humidity was considerably lower than in Chennai.
Immediately I felt my good mood returning. It's all going to be ok..
After a settle in, lunch of vege noodles and a little bit of internet use, we made our way over to the temples and the lighthouse. This world heritage listed site was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava Kingdom. There are caves And carvings, statues and monuments built in the 7th century and dedicated to each Hindu god. It's a pretty impressive place.
We climbed up to the top of the lighthouse which was crammed with people taking photos of the views which included us. It was a good view over the town and towards the coast. I am glad we climbed to the top.
The place is very touristy, not only for foreign tourists, but also Indian tourists. We also became one of the attractions and at one point were bombarded by families asking us to take photos with them and to kiss their babies. Ummm sure thing. We were also asked by a lot of young men to have their photo with us, particularly me, which I was a little apprehensive about. Guess they don't get to see so many tourists? It Was a bit funny by the end of the day.
After a little look around the temples we wandered into town for dinner. There we found backpackistan, as the lonely planet likes to call it. It's a strip of street covered with hippie shops, cafés and restaurants, not to mention tourists! it was refreshing to see some familiar things. We particularly liked the shops too!
We enjoyed a nice meal at the Gecko restaurant. We were able to sit almost of the roof and look down on the people below. A pretty cool place this one. I like it here.
After dinner we had another little look around before wandering back to the beach hotel and enjoying a lovely peaceful, comfortable sleep.
And what good news! Paul was finally able to call me! For some reason my mobile wouldn't connect and we had been unable to reach each other which was frustrating. It was so lovely to talk to him yaaaay!