Backpacking India: Day 0 – The Arrival

Emily and I have arrived safe and sound in India.

It was a long series of uneventful flights to get here. I spent most of the way to Toronto and then Frankfurt catching up on action and superhero movies that all blend together now (although Guardians of the Galaxy was really good). On the way to Chennai, I actually managed to get a few hours of sleep, with earplugs drowning out the screaming child in the seat in front of me. Emily was less lucky and is still sleeping as I write this at 6 am.

We had no problem getting through Indian customs. We arranged a pre-paid taxi to drive us to our hotel – the YWCA International Guest House. I assumed it would be straight forward, as it is one of only 10 places recommended in our guide book, but our driver didn’t speak English and didn’t recognize the name. Luckily, he was smart enough to ask us for a phone number in broken English and called ahead for directions.

At 2 am, the traffic wasn’t bad and we got a whirlwind tour of Chennai, which in the glow of street lights consisted mainly of rundown buildings and roads ripped up for a new metro line. Hopefully it looks better by daylight, but our guide book does note that most travelers move on as quick as possible. We plan on spending 5 days as we acclimatize to India.

Our hotel tried to screw us over when we arrived. I was too tired to notice, but Emily knew something was wrong. We had reserved a simple room but they put us in a double the price a/c room and collected most of the money up front before I noticed what was going on. I’m still getting used to the exchange rate. Nothing to nefarious, but a perfect welcome to India and a good reminder to stay sharp. We confronted the manager last night, but he claims that a/c rooms is all they have for the next 2 nights and we can move to cheaper rooms after. I think he was lying, but we needed to sleep. Hopefully we can straighten it out today.

It’s warm here, but air conditioning isn’t necessary. We didn’t use it last night and slept fine. The constant honking of cars is more of an annoyance than the temperature. Hopefully we can get a non a/c room that doesn’t face the main road.

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