|One of many pretty red trees on our drive|
Upon trying to leave Bangalore, Nipsi and I were made aware of a simple fact that had previously escaped us. Apparently to get home to Chennai, you just keep going straight. Every time we stopped to check if we were on the right road, we were told "Chennai? Straight, straight!" So... we kept going straight! Although the trip started simply enough, once outside the city and on the long stretch back, we suddenly found that despite our diligence in going "straight, straight" we had somehow managed to leave the big, interstate highway and were now on a smaller, local highway.
|Smaller highway we ended up on|
|Middle of rural South India... Truck loaded with Coca-Cola|
|People really go to town when it comes to decorating their trucks|
We'll just call this highway the "scenic route" as it took us through tiny villages and rural areas. Although it added on a few hours to our drive, I think it was ultimately worth it. We got to see a nicer part of the country than just the open highway and even got to stop along the way for my first fresh coconut. It was slightly anticlimactic because, as someone who cooks with coconut milk, I was expecting something stronger and sweeter. Oh well, at least I can say I tried it!
The one down/strange side of this drive was when we were stopped by the police at a checkpoint in Andra Pradesh. They were blatantly just curious about two young foreign girls driving around their neck of the woods by themselves and asked if they could take a photo of us. We agreed although it was still pretty strange. We (wisely) didn't leave the car and were quickly on our way. Although it was odd, the incident was relatively harmless, even though I didn't appreciate having my cheek pinched as we were leaving. Still, at least they were friendly.
|Monkey on the side of the road|
|Mama monkey and baby monkey|
When we finally made it back to Chennai, after finding ourselves stuck in evening traffic on the way into the city, we were relieved and happy to be home. The heat was immediately noticeable despite the evening hour but I found that the Bangalore escape had strengthened my resolve and really helped me to accept the heat for what it is: normal for Chennai at this time of the year. Now that we're into June, I've also noticed that it isn't nearly as hot as early May was with temperatures in the upper 30s rather than mid 40s. The nights have also been noticeably cooler, a fact I am very grateful for!
|Some of the road signs still listed Madras, instead of Chennai|
|Again, not a safe way to travel on the highway|
|Overcrowded auto rickshaw|
If anyone is considering a visit to southern India, I definitely recommend visiting both Chennai and Bangalore so that you can see the differences between the two cities. I think though, if I had to choose, I would still have lived here in Chennai for this research because I prefer the smaller and simpler feel of the city. If I were to stay here for a more extended time, I think the choice would be harder because Bangalore just has so much more to offer a foreigner in terms of familiar food and shops.