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Published: August 8th 2013
'Welcome to the Jungle' - Guns 'N' Roses
So, Incredible India.....
We arrived in the dark at Chennai airport, so it would be hard to see what India looked like in the flesh just yet. 5 minutes into our journey from the airport to our pre-booked hotel however and already it was starting to look we were in for one hell of a ride........What we saw when we first arrived here certainly was Incredible!
It would of course be stupid, ignorant and harsh to judge somewhere in that amount of time, but wow….. straight away, we knew this was something else.
I don’t think I have ever in my life seen so many cars, Tuk Tuk’s motorbikes, trucks and Lorries on one 2 lane road. It was unbelievable. The lane separator painted on the road was an absolute waste of the council’s time and money as everyone acted as if it was mere decoration rather than actually having a purpose. On these roads, there are literally no rules, and a crash seems to be inevitable at any moment. Amongst all this, some deluded and crazy people even dared to ride their push bikes
in the middle of these manic roads. People I can only assume have had enough of this life and are ready to move onto the next.
Our time in Chennai was a bit lacklustre to say the least. To be honest, this wasn’t necessarily due to the city itself as we could only muster the will to get out of the hotel once a day to either buy essentials or book train tickets etc. However when all the outdoor world brought us in those first few days was leering men, horn honking, Tuk tuk drivers asking us ‘where we were going? - and where the only local sites were ones of construction (the whole of Chennai seemed to be one big construction site in progress) and where the streets are hard to walk along due to the amount of rubbish blocking the way, I think we can be forgiven for our laziness. Would this be a sign of things to come? We hoped not.
Before we had arrived in India, we had done the usual and booked ourselves into a ‘fairly decent’ Hotel for a few nights so we could get our bearings. This is a standard measure
we always take after flights to a new country mainly because it’s easier to have accommodation set up for us already and when taxi or Tuk tuk drivers try to take you to their ‘friends’ hotel in exchange for some cheeky commission, we can avoid this tedious to & throw and go straight to where we actually wanted to go. The other reason, if we are honest, is that we like to treat ourselves to a nice hotel now and again since travelling usually means staying in some dives from time to time, and this often seems the best time to do that!
Sadly for us, the pictures and the price we paid didn’t really live up to what we were expecting of our hotel and so we ended up in a pretty depressing room, unable to face the streets of Chennai for a full three days before we could get out of this polluted, bustling city. On a good note however, the food in the hotel was incredible, and they did have a bar serving unlimited snacks with each beer purchase. The down side to this was the place was lit like an opium den and there wasn’t
a single woman in there in all the times we went in, which didn’t make for the most comfortable experience for Donna, however the cold beer, free snacks and not having to venture outside, meant that we this was probably the most agreeable scenario we were likely to encounter here. So down to the 70mm we went!
I not really sure what happened to us in Chennai really, but we just wasn’t really feeling up to taking to the streets nor did we have the willingness to even try and explore the place. This is pretty bad on our part, and we are not normally this type of traveller as we usually find the positives in most places we visit no matter how small they may be.
So, anyway, we decided our next stop should be somewhere a little less frantic, and so after a flick through the guide book, we decided to head to the Western Ghats, and to a town called Kodaikanal. In order to get to Kodai, it would mean taking an 8 hour overnight train, so we booked our tickets and walked the short distance over the road from our hotel to the train
station. Our tickets for the train were in the sleeper class, which at least meant we would get some kind of bed. After boarding the train, we found our seats and looked over our ‘beds’ for the night. To be honest, I think we were both actually picturing worse however this didn’t stop the place looking like some form of prison carriage used to ferry convicts about the country. Not long after we pulled away though, we were relieved that the carriage was fairly empty as fully booked, the area we were in (about 10ft by 6ft) was supposed to house 8 people.
Once the craziness of everyone loading up their luggage and faffing around had ceased, we sat back, opened a packet of Lemon Puff biscuits and soaked up the breeze from the open window and enjoyed the scenery as we headed Westbound out of Chennai. It was actually very relaxing, and we found ourselves chilling out for the first time since our arrival.
When it came to sleeping, the only things that stopped us getting our full 40 winks was an annoying family and their stroppy pre-teen kid, along with the constant shouting from hawkers at
each of our stops. To be honest, after a while, it didn’t really bother us, and we would chalk this one down as a fairly uneventful, easy journey.
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