Journal -- Day 17

January 4th

Transit to Chennai

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Some roads in India are quite modern, some are one-lane dirt tracks, and many are somewhere in the middle. Today we get to try them all:

  • 6:30-8:30: game drive (dirt)
  • 9:30-12:00: Transit to Mysore (largely one-lane, paved with lots of potholes, need to pull over to the side when encountering oncoming traffic)
  • 13:30-17:30: Transit to Bangalore (transition from 2-lane work in progress to modern 4-lane highway)
  • 19:30-20:30: Jet Airways flight to Chennai (not technically a road, but worthy of mention due to excellent service and smooth trip. For once, you can read without bonking yourself on the head with your book everytime the bus goes over a hole in the road)
  • 21:00-22:00: Road to Mamalapuram (best of all, modern toll road along the coast. Reading is now easy, though I've kind of given up in favor of sleep)

This is a pure travel day, with no specific sites to see aside from the always interesting view from the road. Lobsterboy has received no mosquito bites at all, and so we decide he can stop taking the anti-malarial (probably a stupid decision, but he really itches). We therefore hope that this is the height of his color, as he looks like he got a really bad sunburn all over, and while the bus is somewhat air-conditioned, bouncing around all day is not doing him any good. During the course of the day he got so tired out that he even got a bit of a fever back, though since we were slowly getting closer and closer to modern medicine, this didn't worry me as much as when we were going the other way. We do stop from time to time, including once at an excellent coffeehouse, once for a nice lunch, and once for a tree.

About 90 minutes out of Mysore traffic came to an abrupt halt due to a fallen tree branch that was blocking the road. We pulled up not that long after it fell, but already several men with hand axes and saws were diligently turning it from nuisance to firewood. Naturally everyone in all the stopped busses and cars, along with nearby residents, got out to watch the fun. We wandered around for a few minutes until the red ants that had made their home on the tree tried to set up residence on us. While I sympathize with the plight of displaced peoples, I draw the line at things that bite. The tree show only lasts about 20 minutes, and there were no encores, but it did add a little excitement to our day. And I discovered a secondary use for my travel journal - ant swatter.

17 hours after waking, after 8 hours of driving and 1 of flying, we finally arrive at our destination on the Tamil Nadu coast south of Chennai. It is too dark for us to see much from the road, but some evidence of the tsunami's wrath 10 days ago is evident. We have heard that a few beach cottages at our hotel were flooded, but other than that all is well. The villages nearby have damage, but not the devastation we've heard has been seen elsewhere. We've been without CNN or BBC for days, though, so we are unaware of the photos now all over the news. In this case, ignorance is bliss and we can enjoy the hospitality of our hosts.

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