Published: January 24th 2011November 15th 2010
First of all, this trip lasted me for about 2-3months... And I must say, it's full of surprises. Welcome to India!
My flight 9W15 (Jet Airways) touched down in Chennai about 1040am local time. Chennai overall was a dirty, polluted, chaotic, noisy and irritating.
Told myself, "Ok Han, don't get scammed, don't get too paranoid.. just take it easy boy, you're in a foreign land.. and this land is full of surprises, don't let your guard down!" Ok, so after I collected my baggage from the conveyor belt I went to the prepaid taxi counter to book a taxi to bring me to the town area.
Oh wait... I didn't have Lonely Planet with me... just notes of where to go in Chennai.
Counter: So where to Sir?
Me: (Suddenly thought of Chennai Central, since I've booked my train rides online from Chennai Central to Trivandrum) Ok Chennai Central!
Counter: Ok.. that's 350Rps.
After payment, I went out of the airport premises to the taxi stand, and there you go. It was warm and humid and polluted.. although finding the taxi wasn't really difficult. Got into the cab and off to Chennai
My first introduction to India!
Two roaches greeted me in the cab as soon as I got in. The cab interior was grubby and dirty. The driver was chewing Pan and spat out red/orange fluid. I saw cows and dogs. I saw 4 pax on a bike. Woah. Ok, embrace yourself Han, I said to myself.
When we reach Chennai Central, I made a mistake of telling the driver that I do not have a hotel, so I asked him to recommend one. Chennai... it was a big slap on my face!
He brought me to this hotel, but for some basic room with fan and TV and toilet, grubby looking = 1350Rps per night (that's like about USD 30.50 per night!) I said 'ilai'(no in Tamil) and he seems to be a bit disappointed as I guess he wanted to have the commission. The next thing I knew, he approached this Tamil guy, barefooted, with few hotel pamphlets and asked him to direct me to any hotel that I would like to see. This brochure caught my attention somehow: With A/C: 800 Rps per night.
So I thought.. wow.. not bad! I asked him to bring me to
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
On the way to Chennai Central
this hotel, and we walked into some dodgy lanes with naked boys bathing, women making idlis on the street. He stopped. Sulthan Palace
-_- Right.. so this is it huh.. Sulthan Palace. Palace indeed.
I checked into a room, but only to know that I have to pay 1000Rps! WTF?! And the guy who brought me there was asking for tips too.. so I made another big mistake by giving him 2USD. He was so happy, that he was flaunting that 2 American notes, flashing it in front of the bellboy. His jaw dropped. So when the bellboy direct me to my room, he was asking me for Singapore dollar notes! HAHA. I said no, I've changed all of my dollars to Indian Rupees.. and I said that I'll try to find any notes and give it to him (which I did not :P)
Doors closed, switched on the AC. Inside, I was cursing and swearing Chennai. WHAT A HORRIBLE CITY! I decided to check onto some places to visit in Chennai, but I must say, it took me a day to venture the whole city like Triplicane and Anna Salai. I decided to get out of
Chennai A.S.A.P. which I did, and found a guesthouse in Kottakupam, Pondicherry. Full Moon Guesthouse.
The next day, I got onto the taxi I booked from Full Moon Guesthouse, and it took about 2hr 30mins to get there. It was like a breath of fresh air; guesthouse was clean and neat. Room was spacious and I even have my own pantry/kitchen area with bathroom for 550Rps per night! I know it's not cheap but that was a good escape for me from Chennai! Kottakupam is quite a distance from the main town area (the old French quarters) but I still love it here. Unfortunately Azra (the ladyboss) told me that I can only stay for one night, as she will be expecting some long-staying guest next day, and my room was reserved for them.
It was Eid-ul-Adha, the day where Muslim celebrates the day where Abraham carried out Allah S.W.T. orders to slaughter Ishmael but was then replaced with a sheep. So I left Full Moon Guesthouse and went to Nellithope, still far from the main attraction. I called up this Raj Residency and was charged 700Rps per night. WTF. It was an ok lodge, but I guess
it was a bit dodgy to stay there, and I was still not yet adjusted to the surrounding, suffering from the culture shock. I stayed for another night, and decided to move to Swades Guesthouse, nearby the French Quarters, in Rue Chandi Sahib. I must say, Swades Guesthouse is like a treat! I love it! Of course, it's a bit expensive but that's after going through 2 days of drama, I rather stay here and enjoy!
So pretty much everyday in Pondicherry I walk around the town, pass by the Sri Aurobhindo Ashram, looking through the beach, French bakery!! I miss Pondicherry. :P I've made a couple of good friends though, like Cyril and his gf, Moniach and my neighbour, Zohra!
Next stop? Fort Kochin in Kerala!!
There are more photos below