I did manage to keep some kind of daily journal whilst I was there but rather than expose you to my (crappy) handwriting, I’m going to type it out. It’ll be in a few parts so if you are remotely interested – please try and read them in order in the hope that they’ll make some sense!
“Never again” I vowed to myself about 14 years ago. Never again will I travel on this bloody airline but what to do when they offer the cheapest fare to your destination of choice?! In times of credit crunching, you can’t afford to be picky right? And so the journey begins at London Heathrow airport (LHR) with the captain announcing that there’ll be a 45 minute delay due to air clearance (or something that sounds remotely aeronautically technical!) over Brussels!
I inwardly groan at the fact that I am putting myself through this again (my first experience with this airline started with a 5 hour delay!). As the plane finally takes off, I consider the journey that lays ahead of me – dosas, temples and a country that closely resembles SL. The flight itself is uneventful – a lil’ turbulence to scare me slightly, the food leaving a lot to be desired and Krispy Kreme donuts purchased at LHR that I am thankful for!
Now ours was not a direct flight. Hell that’s why it was so cheap! (LHR – Mumbai – Chennai) So imagine my concern when the captain announces a delay in landing – especially since we have another flight to catch!
Disembarking from the plane at Mumbai, the first thing that hits me (quite literally!) is the smell – it’s not good! After that, it’s the sense of panic that we might miss our connecting flight. This is clearly the same feeling as many of the other passengers leaving the plane who are barging past me with their hand luggage. Some that resembles the size of my hold luggage!!
The organisational skills of staff at Mumbai airport leave me somewhat bewildered (no point getting stressed!). I am very British in my ways – queuing is not beyond me yet as a Tamil, I know what to expect amongst other South Asians. I felt very sorry for the Caucasian people who were on their first trip to the country!
With 15 minutes until the departure of my connecting flight, I make it to the boarding gate. I get on the bus thingy that is going to take me to the aircraft. The temperature outside is apparently 30 degrees (I landed at 2:30 in the morning!) so I’m aghast as to what it might be during the day! I stand on this bus for about half an hour roasting as more and more people are piled on. BUT far from being stressed or annoyed, I’m loving it!
Our flight to Chennai leaves 45 minutes after our scheduled time and we manage to safely arrive at our final destination. A further 40 minutes as our temperatures are scanned by a scary looking gun type thing (36.6) in a bid to contain swine flu. And finally I manage to collect my bags and leave Chennai airport.
Apologising profusely to the driver who’s come to pick us up, I soak in the lights as we drive to the hotel. As competent as I am in Tamil, the difference between South Indian Tamil and the Jaffna Tamil spoken at home left me asking him to repeat what he was saying at least twice! I agree to whichever hotel he suggests seeing as all I wanted some sleep.
I am clearly a closet freshie at heart because nothing (except the smell slightly) seems to faze me!
The first two days are spent exploring Chennai and it’s surrounding areas before we start our crazy temple tour.
The highlight for me is Mahabalipuram. The ancient rocks carvings with such intrinsic detail leave me somewhat in awe.
Apologies for all the text and lack of photos in this post. The next few will be photos and less text!