Bangalore and beyond - the oddessy continues (as does the spelling lessons ;-))
Nov 18, 2006
|Hi all! Here we are in Mamallapuram on the east coast of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. We're south of Chennai which was a shithole (in 4 words or less!) however we are now out of the big city areas and are enjoying quieter times at the beach. We're heading off to Pondicherry tomorrow, a French Enclave which is tax free and apparently has cheap alcohol! (which is Robbieji's reason for going!!)
We spent two days earlier this week in Bangalore, the IT capital of India after arriving safely (which in itself was a miracle as we were on the bus from hell from Hyderabad!!). Bangalore was quite clean and the traffic was considerably more organised than other cities we've visited already. We thought we'd pop in quickly to see the ISKCON Temple, which is the biggest Krishna temple in the Southern Hemisphere, only to find we were in a "chanting queue" that we couldnt get out from. We had to chant the Hare Krishna mantra 108 times as we went up each step of the temple for world peace. As the only obvious foreignors in the place, we were "invited" (and had to pay 150 rupees for the pleasure!) for a private "darshan" with one of the more enlightened monks. He pretty much just berated us for eating meat, drinking alcohol and leading a very naughty western lifestyle!!! (and here we were, thinking we were good peoples!!:))) All our children were specially blessed (blessings to you Tiarnie, Tristan, Daniel and Hope)and we were given blessed food to eat (again for a price!) but wait there's more.......no free steak knives BUT a FREE dvd about the temple, etc. We then had to run the gauntlet through myriads of Krishna artifact sellers....they had all been to the "Amway school of hard sell") and they tried to convert us. Rob now chants as he shags, but he cant go for 108 times!!!!!:)
We then went off to the Bull Temple, a beautiful Hindu temple (see photo) where we were blessed again and dabbed on the forehead with orange powder - just like a local!! We should be really good now after being doubly blessed! We couldn't find a Catholic Church just to hedge our bets!! :)
We found the new "hop-on, hop-off" double decker bus which only started 2 months ago in Bangers (as we like to remember it!)We had a 1 and a half hour personalised tour of the city for 100 rupees ($3AUD), of course we sat at the front of the bus and had to duck overhanging trees and electrical lines, but seemed to be the "talk of the town" with everyone waving to us like we were royalty! Maybe our Bollywood lifestyle has preceded us!!!:)
The train to Chennai was pretty much as per usual........lots of "locals" asking us where we were from and telling us to watch out for other Indians ripping us off and pickpockets, etc..seems the people in each city think the locals in the next city are all criminals and can't be trusted! We didn't stay in Chennai long as it really doesnt have anything to offer, nothing much to do or see, and the monsoon is 2 months late this year and has just arrived!!! We didn't really fancy walking through ankle deep puddles of god knows what!!!!!
We had a great trip on the bus from Chennai further south down the coast at Mamallapuram (MMP) where there is more of a tourist flavour! But within 5 minutes of arriving, we made the mistake of walking into a craft shop with very agwessive sellers, who didn't want us to leave without buying something, but they didn't count on Robbieji being as tight as he is! He has also managed to shirk off the best "beggars" around here, they keep trying to sell us stuff we dont want to "help my small business"....
There are a lot of archaeological sites around here which we have uploaded as photos; horseriding on the beach, fisherman's boats on the beach.......we did wade in last night up to our knees when it was on dusk and we couldnt see anything, however, we decided to forego even putting our pinkies in the water today after seeing what is on the beach in the daylight!!! (sh.t - both human, horse and cow and dog and goats - everywhere!)
Thanks for the input about the videos..there is no sound as they are taken on the camera, but just imagine a lot of background noise, cars honking, people yelling, hindi music blaring in the streets, bells ringing all night long and you can almost be here!
Ciao from MMP...hope to update you from The beautiful Maldives (where we intend to go swimming and snorkelling even in cyclone conditions if needs be!!)
Bernieji and Robbieji xxx