My Trip To Chennai, India (Part 1)

India luggage

This post is a long time coming.  My trip to India was actually back in July/August 2016 but due to many different circumstances, I am only just now getting around to writing about it.

This trip was planned one month in advance unlike my trip to Dubai that was planned within 24 hours—so I’m getting better at giving myself more time to travel these days.  But, who am I kidding?  It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t live life so spontaneously.

I traveled alone again.  It took me about 32 hours to get to Chennai, India with three different planes and the super long layovers (5 hours, 9 hours, 3 hours)—but I stayed in India almost three weeks.  And with those kinds of layovers, I had to keep myself entertained somehow—and usually it was with food.  No surprise there!

When I landed in India, I exchanged only a few US dollars for Indian rupees at the airport because I figured I could get a better rate somewhere else once I ventured out into the city.

In India, a lot of things are so inexpensive.  The one and only Uber ride I took was a 15-20 minute ride that only cost me 98 rupees which was basically the equivalent of $1.49 (US dollars).  I had such a hard time believing it that I gave the driver 200 rupees total so he could keep the rest as a tip.  He tried to give it back to me because he thought I accidentally overpaid him.  NO—I pretty much felt bad that the cost was so low and couldn’t imagine how he was surviving there as an Uber driver at that rate.

But not everything is cheap in India.  Some of the restaurants and clothing stores are pretty much the same prices as the USA.  They have all ranges of restaurants and stores from cheap, mid-priced, and expensive depending on where you decided to go.  This baffled me even more that some things were similar in price to the USA but yet the people there don’t earn even close to the amount of money we earn in the States.

I did a little research and discovered I actually make more money in one month than the engineers at Amazon in Chennai make in one year.  This amazed me because even though a lot of things in India are cheap/inexpensive and it’s easy enough for the local people to “get by” on living because they are used to it and it is the only life they know—but other things are comparable to prices in the USA so I was not surprised so many people there are so poor and can’t afford to do a lot of things with the money they earn.

It’s such an underdeveloped country, too.  A lot of things there are very old.  It made me wonder what year I was living in!  But, don’t get me wrong—if you are a local with a lot of money, you can go to places that are more modernly developed like some of the nicer stores, restaurants, and hotels.

I could actually afford to stay in the most expensive 5-star hotels there because they are priced like the average hotels in the USA.  The hotels also take advantage of the tourists there because they know they have more money than the local people do—so they tend to charge higher rates in the hotel restaurants and rooms and such.

But, let me tell you, I’d probably never be able to afford to stay in those same 5-star hotels if they were in the USA unless they gave a huge discount on the rooms.  If those same hotels were here in the USA they’d be 3, 4, or 5 times as much money as they charged in India.  A room in an exquisite hotel in India can be as cheap as $130 a night but could be as high as $500 or $600 (USD) or more a night in the States.

I mean, think about it—$1.49 (USD) or 98 rupees is considered by a lot of people there to be a LOT of money.  I am just so fascinated by how much traveling the world has opened my eyes to experiencing and seeing how other people live in the world.  It is truly a learning experience and one that I would highly recommend everyone do at some point in their lives—travel the world to many other countries and see the lives of other people.

I can totally see why so many people in third world countries want to come live in the USA so badly—or any other developed country but their own.  The friends I know from India and Pakistan that are living in Dubai or the USA, have no desire to go back to their countries to live again—they usually only go back to visit family.  So now I understand it even more.

 

Well, the first thing I ate when I got to India was a pepperoni pizza!  Don’t ask me why I did something like that.  I realize that was a ridiculous thing to do after traveling so far and for so long to a foreign country.  Yep, I got to India and didn’t even get authentic Indian food first thing—I bee-lined it for a pepperoni pizza.  We ordered pizza!  What in the world!

The next couple of day’s food included a yummy chicken club sandwich from a place called Moonlight, a sandwich from Subway, and chicken masala and chicken lolly pop from Food Box.  He even took me to a place where you can have unlimited all-you-can-eat donuts!  What a dream come true!

I could never get enough food.  There was always plenty for me to eat and I had an awesome experience trying all the different kinds of authentic Indian foods and every other kind of food there.

Got to meet a lot of his friends along the way.

One of the things I had a hard time getting used to was seeing all the stray cows that roam the streets freely like stray dogs do.  And let’s talk about the dogs first—there are SO many stray dogs on each block that I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It seemed like there were 10 stray dogs per block everywhere you turned!  Just SO MANY with nowhere to go!

And at any given moment, a cow or cows would suddenly just walk right in the midst of the people and the flowing traffic—just roaming to wherever it is stray cows roam to at that moment.  Nobody knows where they’re headed, but everyone just drives or walks around them giving them their space.

Below is a night scene video full of cows on just one block.  We happened to drive down this particular street very late at night and the cows were just resting on the side of the road where normally daytime traffic would be along with people walking up and down the street.

Meeting cows along the way.

At some point, we ate at a Chinese place called Orange Wok which was good and later had a burger and fettuccine Alfredo.  I loved eating at so many different places there.

Now let’s talk about the traffic!  There are absolutely no rules for driving that I could see.  It was as if you could drive however you wanted to and make up your own driving rules as long as you didn’t hit anyone.  And everyone honks at each other ALL the time—just non-stop honking all day long.

I thought I was afraid of the traffic when I was in Dubai—but I now prefer Dubai traffic over what I saw in India.  It took me about four days to get used to everyone’s driving in India.  After that, I pretty much became accustomed to it all.  And the guy I was with drove his car just as crazy as everyone else did.

There are so many motorbikes everywhere because that’s generally the preferred mode of transportation—I guess because it’s cheaper for most than a car.  But it always amazed me that entire families would be on one motorbike together.  I literally saw a man driving his motorcycle with his 4-year-old son sitting in front of him, then another child sitting directly behind him, then the mother sitting behind that kid on the back of the bike holding an infant baby!  A total of five humans on ONE bike!  What in the world!  And no one was wearing a helmet!

Below is a video of just a small portion of the craziness I saw every day.  And this wasn’t even the worst of it.  This is pretty tame considering some of the things I saw every day.

India traffic

I loved meeting and seeing the different people of India and how they dressed and the different neighborhoods.  There’s so many pretty colors everywhere.  We also come across these creepy lizard type creatures everywhere.  I’m not sure what they were but they crawl a lot of places.

We ended up staying at the hotel half the time and at his place half the time.  He pretty much told me I should save all that hotel money and just stay with him the whole time.  And he was right.  I just wasn’t sure if there would be enough room for all my things since he lives in a small studio apartment.  After all, I’m a girl and I had two suitcases full of things.  So we pretty much figured it out going between the two places.

And that was part one of my amazing trip to India.