We awoke to the rain falling…really hard. We were a little apprehensive to get going, but as soon as we walked out of our room we were reminded of the nice temperature that is in India. Within in seconds we were soaked, but not cold….which was surprisingly pleasant.
We started the day going downhill, it was great. I’m sure the view was great as well, but all we could see was clouds.
As soon as we crossed the boarder into Tamil Nadu we noticed the difference. Kerala is a really nice state, with wealth more evenly spread around. The evidence can be seen by what kind of droppings you see on the side of the road. In Kerala you would see the occasional cow dung on the road, but not much of it, everywhere else in India (including Tamil Nadu) you see every kind of dropping imaginable, cow, pig, goat, elephant, dog and yes, human.
This thought was constantly in our heads, for the first time in India, we were getting splashed by puddles. The mud coloured water had completely covered our bikes, shoes, socks, legs and shorts.
The rain stopped and we rode into a town called Theni. Drawn by the giant Theni International Hotel sign, we quickly found a great value hotel were we spent the night.
We stuck the the national highway (the only realistic route to take) and it wasn’t that bad. We kept dropping in elevation, there was slight slope (1-2%) the whole day and it was great, we had good speed. Traffic got more and more chaotic was we got closer to Madurai. We found a great place after checking out many other places, the guide book claims that there are great midrange value rooms in Madurai, but none of the ones in the guide book.
I often wonder if hotel owners buy every Lonely Planet for their area and jack up their prices if they are in the book (it seems like it to us). For lunch I order a Thali. It was the biggest and most diverse thali I have had in India, it was great.
After lunch we went exploring. Madurai has one of the neatest temples in south India. Tall gopurams challenge nearby six story building in height. I’m sure they look amazing, with over 1000 sculptured figures, all painted brightly, it would make a great picture. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them.
Once every 12 years, they cover these massive building with scaffolding and palm leaves. They do this to paint them. I guess it has to be done, but what timing.
On our way back to the hotel, we found a bike shop. They had bells and kickstands. We have bells, but they are not loud enough, we do not have kickstand though. We went back the the hotel and got Tanya’s bike, I drove and convinced Tanya to jump on the back rack, with both her legs out to the left. It is the way most women ride motorcycles and there a lot of kids riding on the back’s of bicycles like this as well. It was fun, navigating through the busy streets with Tanya on the back. It is a great way to see a city.