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The Mystical Adventures of Tess and Jack

Chapter One: Gold Coast to Chennai (and a totally different planet)

INDIA | Sunday, 18 December 2011 | Views [538] | Comments [3]

Hello beloved family and friends, and welcome to another exciting edition of your favourite travel blog! This time around we are doing a one month sojourn in southern India, followed by five weeks in the beautiful Philippines. Yes, we are very lucky and excited. Let the mystical adventures begin...

The classy mood for the trip was set as soon as we pulled in at Coolangatta airport for our flight to Kuala Lumpur. Fate intervened in John's car park choice; as we donned our backpacks for the first time we noticed that we were parked directly over the top of a huge purple dildo. We took this to be a portent for fun and sexy times ahead. Ahh Australia, we will miss you.

After this exciting farewell, the first leg of the journey was largely uneventful. The action picked up again on our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Chennai. As we waited for our gate to open, it became abundantly clear that Jack and I were the only non-Indians on the flight. This provided for an enlightening (if somewhat disconcerting) introduction to Indian transport etiquette. To set the scene, we felt as if there should be chickens in the overhead compartments. An excited and anticipatory atmosphere filled the cabin; everyone was out of their seats as much as possible and cheered during take off and landing. Unfortunately this fun and carefree attitude extended to safety precautions. Everybody totally ignored the seat belt signs and refused to turn their mobile phones off during the flight. We made our first Indian friend (people here tend towards extreme friendliness) who videotaped us on his mobile phone and asked for help filling in his immigration forms.

Chennai airport is entirely un-touristy and perhaps not the most enticing portal to this entirely different planet. The building was old and dingy, the air heavy with moisture and the smell of mold. As we waited by the baggage carousel, an old man approached Jack. Laying a hand on his arm, he asked earnestly if he was Jesus. 

We had a slight ATM hiccup (exhausted and rupee-less, we waited in front of an apparently frozen screen for 10 minutes for it to give back Jack's card...the helpful sign on the wall suggested "calling the issuing financial institution" in case of a "captured card." Luckily this story had a happy ending.) We then piled into an old 50s gangster style car and attempted to communicate to our driver (who had no English) how to get to our hotel. We spent the next half hour slightly stunned, watching Chennai pass by in all its insanity. Memorable things we observed:

  • A cow walking down the sidewalk.
  • A sign reading "Feisty Cats Pet Store." The beginning of my love affair with Indian English.
  • Lots of traffic signs which were hilarious in their redundancy. E.g. "No horn," "high crash zone," and "choose a lane." In case you didn't guess, horns are used CONSTANTLY (basically to signal 'I'm behind you' or 'give me right of way'), there are hazards everywhere and the lines on the road are completely ignored.

By an act of divine intervention (Ganesh = God of Luck) our driver delivered us safely to the Hotel Comfort. We wound down with our first of many incredible Indian meals and some soothing Tollywood (South Indian version of Bollywood) video clips.

The next morning we spied Paradise (the hotel) outside our bedroom window and, reading that it was considerably cheaper, moved camp. Our first and only full day in Chennai was spend acclimatising (slight culture shock) by wandering around the city streets on several missions: to buy breakfast (conical dosa bread with potato, curry and four types of chutney - a South Indian breakfast specialty), to book a train ticket to our next destination (our first encounter with the crazy Indian bureaucracy - the ticket officials were hurling verbal abuse at each other as we filled in a long unnecessary form in the musty little office), and to buy a lock and chain to secure our bags on the train (not as easy as it sounds).

We are now out of the bustle of Chennai and enjoying some down time in the beautiful (and cold!) hill station of Ooty in the Western Ghats, and attempting to have as many blog-worthy adventures as possible. Sorry about the lack of photos - it's taken us a little while to get into snap-happy tourist mode but we have a few coming soon that I think you'll enjoy. Rest assured we are both happy and safe and miss you all.

T & J xoxox




Loved it! Good work guys....keep up the fun times.
PS Puppy is so much better and nearly back to old self!!

  Ma & Pa Dec 19, 2011 8:05 AM


Haha. Loved it!

Can relate to a look lot of this: the traffic, the overhead baggage, the addiction to bureaucracy! Very jealous.

Have fun. Can't wait for chapter 2!

  SurlyBug Dec 19, 2011 10:41 PM


Great blog! Wish I was having that great Indian food too!
Happy adventuring.

  Deanne Dec 21, 2011 9:59 AM

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