Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
46Trip End Feb 06, 2006
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This was the first place we could visibly see the effect of the tsunami. It wasn't pretty and it was clear a lot of people had lost their homes and livelihoods. There was a certain desperation in the air, there's no other way to describe it really. The hassle was almost unbearable. I'm not sure how I would cope as a 2 week holiday maker. Of course being there longer should theoretically make it harder (acculmulation of hassle if such a thing is possible!) but I think it may be easier as we're used to constant assaults on our wallets and psyche!! It would be enough to put me off coming to India to have a relaxing holiday if I'm honest. However, the good news was that after 3 days when the we had said 'no thank you' to the same people about 15 times, they stopped asking us, phew
Mamallapuram could have been anywhere in the world, if it weren't for the UNESCO protected ruins of the Shore Temple, aptly named as it was.. err.. on the shore. I felt like I was entering a minature temple for dwarves as it was considerably smaller than any of the Hindu temples we've seen so far. The landscaping around it really lent it a unique air.
Ok, can't wait any longer with the cultural sites! have to tell you about the croc farm! Oh the excitement! We weren't expecting much but this place was a gem. THOUSANDS of crocodiles, most of them extremely rare, all lying in the sun lazing away. A few were over 20ft long(!!) but the bulk of their Freshwater bodies were just below the surface. The site was dedicated to conservation in a way I haven't seen for a long time. It really seemed aware of the fact that people needed to change their perceptions towards these animals if they are to survive, and did a good job with that message. In addition to the crocs were turtles and snakes. I was entranced for at least an hour watching the turtles and we also saw two men extracting venom from cobras and pit vipers. The extraction centre is the most important in S.India for cultivating anti venin. The ultimate highlight of my day was handling a baby crocodile! Strangely adorable, it was a 'mugger' or salt marsh croc and I held him long enough to appreciate that he is quite strong!! I want one...