Sunday, 13 July 2008

At land's end

Following several weeks of travelling in a mostly southern direction from Mumbai, I can’t go any further. I have reached the bottom of India, Cape Comorin and the small holy town of Kanyakumari.

After spending 5 nights on the cliffs of Varkala it’s good to be back in amongst the hustle and bustle of Indian life. Mind you it is a small town!

Arriving in the early evening I’ve got a non sea view room in an okay hotel overlooking the small harbour on the eastern side of town and therefore India. The room costs R180 less than the one across the hall but as it has a cable tv it’s not like I’ll be looking out of the window that much! Thankfully I was able to see the last several laps of the German round of Motogp.

Later on in the evening after a large bowl of delicious noodles (hey, would you want to eat Indian every night?) I’m in a basement bar. My preferred style of drinking is always subterranean and would you believe my luck, the only cold beer they have is “strong”, we’re talking 8% plus. With great foresight I can see my hotel from here…well if the bar had windows and wasn’t underground you understand! Despite my pleading the barman insisted on me receiving the complementary bar snacks. If they had been nuts I could have just about been tempted. However, sliced tomatoes, carrots and cucumber ain’t beer finger food!

The next day I was up early and out and about. The walk around town took about 25 minutes and that was me walking slowly. So off I went to the ferry.

The ferry, where, over there, to a little temple with knobs on it, there over there right there.

A few hundred yards off shore are two rocky outcrops. On the smaller one, covered in scaffolding, is a statue of the famous Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. It stands 133 foot but is currently undergoing restoration. They are sealing the stonework with a polysilica coating to protect against erosion from the elements. Why no one thought to do this when it was built 8 years ago is beyond me (so it’s closed to tourists till the middle of October).

On the larger rock outcrop is the Vivekananda Memorial built to celebrate the life and deeds of Swami Vivekananda, the wandering monk who once spent 3 days and nights here going Om! (and that was over xmas bet he forgot to buy his family any presents). Whilst the views from this perspective were good the cultural significance failed to find any fertile ground in my consciousness to take root. Wishing to find out more I went to the small museum (back on the mainland) which told the story of the man and why he went a wandering. I still didn’t get it…how does walking around without any possessions begging for food bring you closer to god?

In the evening with the sunset an hour away I found a spot down near the beach to take some pictures of the sunset. I couldn’t be arsed to take a taxi to sunset point 2.5kms away. It was slightly overcast and the sunset was quite poor, walking back along the beach road 15 minutes later I happened to turn around and was overwhelmed by the brilliance of the now gorgeous sunset. The wispy tendrils of the clouds were lit up by the full spectrum of pinks and reds against a glowing orange sun. As tomorrow is my last night here I’m definitely going to sunset point. What do you think are the chances of it raining tomorrow evening!

Checking my finances online earlier in the day it turns out that over the last 6 weeks I’ve spent £500. I have no idea if that’s too much. Wondering about this I thought I would try and work out how long it will take me to get to New Zealand. Turns out I should be there in May 2010 (ish). When’s the rugby world cup on?

Almost forgot about this…when I arrived at the train station I made my way towards the exit for my now traditional 1st fag in a foreign town ritual. Nearing the exit all of us passengers were steamed by the rickshaw drivers swarming around us all like angry bees on a hot summer’s afternoon desperate to get our business.

Tomorrow I’m going to make like a front room and lounge!

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