Deciding to make a stopover in Thanjavur
The day started with a French breakfast in Pondicherry, that is to say, some pastry and decent coffee. At the Tourist Information Office, it becomes clear to me that I saw the main sights of this city. So I decide – with yesterday`s story of the corrupt police officer still fresh in mind – to move on to Trichy today. At the Tourist Info, however, I get the advice to make a stopover in Thanjavur and visit the massive temple over there. After all, I need to take another bus in Thanjavur to travel further to Trichy.
Cheap local transport
The local bus transport is very affordable in South-India; I pay around 40 rupees for a distance covering approximately 300 kilometers. As I have to place my backpack in front of the bus, next to the driver. I keep an eye on it as much as possible and trust that the bus driver will also keep an eye on things. The trip theoretically takes five hours; it will become six. A typical incident, I give the conductor a banknote where a piece has been torn off. Five minutes later, he comes to ask me for another one because it does not contain a full number.
Regular stops on the journey
It is going to be a pretty tough journey; I am sweating and try to drink enough water. Along the way, an Indian starts talking to me. He is a businessman, has two brothers who work temporarily in Dubai and America. The bus regularly stops at stations en route. As the only non-Indian traveler, it is unclear to me how long there will be a break, but usually quite briefly. The businessman offers me two bananas, which is good as I did not provide any food. Around five o’clock in the afternoon, I arrive in Thanjavur.
A tiny room in a budget hotel
I feel pretty exhausted and decide to spend the night here. I choose the best budget hotel according to my travel guidebook. When I arrive at the hotel, I get to see a desolate room; there is at most 75 centimeters of space between the bed and the wall. However, I feel that I am too tired to go checking for other hotels, so I take the room. After all, this stopover in Thanjavur is only for one night.
Visiting one of the highest temples in South-India is the reason for my stop in Thanjavur
At the reception, I learn that the Brihadishvara temple – my main reason for this stopover in Thanjavur – is open until 8 o’clock tonight, so I plan to visit the place tonight. In that way, I will be able to make it to Trichy faster tomorrow. It is a colossal temple, one of the highest in South India, and sculpted in great detail. When I leave the premises, I drink a fresh coke to raise my sugar level; the long bus ride of today affects me.
The spiciest soup I ever ate
The best vegetarian restaurant in town is located next to the hotel where I am staying. I walk in and order roti – a kind of chappati, pea masala, tomato soup, water, and tea. My first spoonful of soup that I work inside starts to make me cough enormously. I feel like my gets are burning. The food in South-India is indeed very chili, I had already experienced that before, but this soup beats all records. However, I have to eat, so I finish my complete order, including the soup.
Trying to catch sleep
After taking a shower, I immediately want to go to sleep, but my effort does not work out as hoped. My room feels very muggy, and in the meantime, a severe thunderstorm has broken out. After many turns and turns, I finally fall asleep.