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Published: April 20th 2017
Wow what a luxury. We have a pool! While most of my group head off to explore Mamallapuram this morning I opt to do things in reverse - us introverted characters need a bit of alone time to recharge. Being on a group tour AND sharing a room means such opportunities are few and far between. An empty pool all to myself, bliss. Later I'm joined by a couple of others from the group and also suddenly we have a group of macaque monkeys jumping along the balconies and into a large fruit bush next to the pool. They are funny to watch, the bigger males bossing the littleuns about. They are making a right mess dropping leaves and fruits all over the ground. It's therefore no surprise when the hotel lady who keeps the outdoor areas clean and tidy comes rushing over to shout at the naughty monkeys and throw some gravel at them to make them go away. There's lots of back and forth, chasing them from one area only for them to return to their favoured bush near the pool. All that is missing is the Benny Hill theme music! Comedy gold. Eventually the monkeys leave and peace
As everyone returns to take over the pool and cool off I take myself off to explore Mamallapuram. It always feels a bit odd walking around on your own in India as you stick out like a sore thumb; the difference on the surface is so great, but despite the curious stares, without a fault, the reaction is friendly with lots of smiling, waving, head wobbling (friendly gesture) and the favourite phrase 'hello what's your name?'.
I'm trying to make my way to the beach where my room mate told me there's loads of Indian families trying to swim in the sea, only none of them can swim so hang onto each other as the waves make them fall over. Sounds funny. I pass a lot of shops with massive stone carvings of gods and goddesses, so huge that you'd think most people wouldn't be able to afford them, but this must not be the case as there are so many shops they must all be making a living out of it. I pass a large square pool with steps all around and in the middle a small building. This must be the elephant pool I'd
heard about. A bit further on I see the top of the light house. Loads of people have climbed up to see the view from the top. It's very crowded so I decide to give that particular spiral staircase a miss. I also see some rock carvings and an ancient monument sign. I get to find out more about it the next day but for now I wander on trying to find the road down to the beach. It seems I've overshot so have to retrace my steps, passing some of the same people who wave and smile again. What is she doing wandering back and forth in this heat? Eventually I find the right road and begin the long walk past many tacky shops selling cheap plastic toys etc. Seems beach tat is a world wide curse. I make it to the beach and what a spectacle. There are hundreds of people there enjoying themselves. Children get a go on the chug chugging merry go round, there are a couple of horses giving rides sometimes galloping really fast, the child holding on tightly and laughing and screaming. One lady has a stall selling blown up balloons fixed to a
board! And yes there are the families trying to swim. The ladies and girls go in fully clothed in their beautiful colourful sarees. They are in groups all holding hands laughing when one of their party gets knocked over by a wave. One lady is sitting in the really shallow bit looking all elegant until an unexpected big wave swamps her and sends her flying and spluttering much to the amusement of her friend. It's a wonderful sight and I provide as much interest myself being the only tourist on the entire beach.
I sadly leave the beach as I have to make it back to the hotel as our group is off to a special seafood restaurant. What a fab experience to bank in my head and heart.
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