March 6, 2016
06.03.2016 - 06.03.2016 34 °C
We caught a bus early this morning to Madurai, our last stop in India. It is so difficult to convey what these bus rides are like. There is no where to put our luggage except stacked on the engine cover at the front of the bus. We sit in a seat for two which is really too small for people the size we are, so we feel cramped and as the bus goes around hairpin turns we have to hang on tight or risk falling off the slippery seat. We always see interesting sights as we go along the roads.
Today our bus met another bus at a narrow part of the mountain road and then our bus driver had an argument with the other driver about who should back up. I guess our's lost because we backed up. Of course, we don't understand what they actually said, but that's what the body language said.
After 1 1/2 hours or so of driving down out of the mountains, with the steep grades and hairpin turns, we made it to the flat land. Very soon we stopped at a little bus stand out in the country for a 15 minute break. There I noticed a herd of goats being moved down the side of the road. And although it was very warm (30 or so) since we were out of the mountains, one of the women from the bus was wearing a down jacket! It's amazing what you get used to!
Very soon after we got going again, we pulled into the bus station in Dindigul. I thought "Why didn't we have our break here?" Well, that bus station was an absolute madhouse. Our bus pulled in, let passengers off, and then tried to turn around to go out again. This bus station only has one entrance/exit so all the buses are competing to get in and out. Here's a short video to try and demonstrate some of the madness.
Once we got into Madurai, which is one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the world, we got off the bus and into a tuk tuk to go to our hotel. Tuk tuk rides are another thing hard to convey. Riding along in a small vehicle which weaves in and out of traffic between large trucks and buses, beeping horns, etc. So I made another small video to try to show you the ride plus some of the street scene.
After we checked into our hotel, the SPK, we went out to find some lunch. We ended up several blocks away at a place called Rice and Grills, which would horrify any Canadian food inspector, but made good food. Standards are so different here, we have to just relax and enjoy what we can. We visited a grocery store on our way back and picked up a couple of things, but the best thing was seeing a whole cooler just for chocolate bars. It's so hot here that chocolate just melts to a gooey mess if not refrigerated.
We rested for awhile and then we out to walk in the park beside the lake, which is across the street from the hotel. There are quite a few birds on the marshy lake, but the fence between the park and the lake seems to be designed to keep anyone from seeing what's on the lake from the park. Strange - there may be a good reason, but I couldn't think of one.
After our walk we went to Phil's Bistro for supper. This is an Italian American restaurant with no Indian food at all. We were the first people in the place, but soon other Indians came in. Don said, "This is like us going to an Indian restaurant at home." I had a great pasta supper, without any nightshades and Don had a good fish meal. Then back to the hotel for the night.