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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 08 Mar 2017

Location: Chennai, India

MapThe Trident Hotel was lovely but travellers beware. The alcohol is extortionate. Some of the group had beer at £8 for a small glass and some had a glass of wine at £10. And then on top, you pay the tourist tax so the wine cost £15 per glass. It may be a dry holiday from here on!

We left early this morning for a bus tour of Chennai. It was originally a set of fishing villages before they became one large metropolis. In the seventeenth century the George area was the British administrative capital. Today it is a dynamic city. But don't expect to go anywhere fast as the city is clogged up with mopeds, yuk tuks and other vehicles but the slow moving pace gave us a great opportunity to view the everyday life in detail and at close quarters.

The bus tour took in the Tamil Nadu state museum and a drive along the beach front until we arrived at the Cathedral of St Thomas. Here lies the remains of the apostle Thomas. This is one of only three churches in the world where a dome is a built above a tomb, St Peters in Rome being one of the others.

One night was sufficient here as the city does not really merit a closer look than we had, so after lunch we found ourselves driving along the Coromandel Coast Road.

The buildings along the road were much better varying from beautiful villas to holiday resorts to small villages. All of the villages have a primary' school, as education is compulsory, with the educational system still following that set up by the British. If a child lives more than two Kms away from the school, he is given a free bicycle to get to his classroom. English is the main language taught.
Greater emphasis has now been placed on higher education from the age of twelve upward. If he matriculates at the age of sixteen, he is given a free laptop. Many schools have been set aside for women only, such is the high regard for women in the Hindu culture. Today was International Women's Day but we didn't see any special celebrations. We were surprised to hear how many women got top jobs such as pilots or chief of police or such like.

It was therefore a pleasant ride down the coast to our next stop, at the Radisson Blu Temple Bay Hotel, which is in the small town of Mahabalipuram. The hotel is tight on the beach and we all love it here, it is a fabulous place. The rooms are in two storey lodges. Ours is on the first floor and overlooks the Bay of Bengal. It seems unreal. Tonight we went to watch a Hindu wedding, what a fabulous place to have a wedding right next to the shore.

The town itself houses a Unesco World Heritage Site so tomorrow should be a good day.