IPL, and goodbye to Chennai

April 10, 2011 - Patong, Phuket, Thailand

After picking up the tickets, we made it back to the hotel in comfort, showered and got ready for the IPL. We walked outside the hotel and flagged down a rickshaw, and asked him to take us to the stadium. The journey was horrible – not only was it peak hour but there were a lot of people going to the cricket. The journey would normally take half an hour, but it took an hour and a half and boy was it hot on that rickshaw, especially with 4 of us in the back where you can barely fit 3 people.


Once we arrived, we were set upon by hundreds of people trying to sell us all sorts of things with Chennai Super Kings printed on them. Some chap even came out and painted Alana’s arm with a yellow and red ‘CSK’, then demanded money for it!


We ignored the many requests to buy something and found the gate we needed to enter via. After a rather thorough security search, we were inside the stadium. We climbed four flights of stairs to the area we were in, found 4 seats and settled in for the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony was loud and colourful, though we didn’t recognise any of the big name acts as they were all India, but the rest of the crowd sure appreciated them.


The match started and you just can’t believe how loud it is. These people love cricket, I mean they absolutely live for it. They cheer every run, they dance in the aisles for a 4, and if someone hits a six you’d think they’d won the lottery. Everybody has some sort of device for making noise, and you can barely hear yourself think. When Chennai were in the field, they would even greet each dot ball with massive amounts of noise.


The game itself was good, Chennai batted first and posted just over 150, a competitive total. The Kolkata Knight Riders looked home in their chase, but lost quick wickets and they needed a boundary of the last ball to win. They couldn’t manage it and the crowd went absolutely mental! As the masses starting piling out of the ground, I saw a Chennai Super Kings flag that had been left behind, so I pocketed it to hang from the rickshaw on the way home.


It was midnight by the time we got out of the stadium, and we hadn’t had dinner, so we decided to walk until the crowd thinned out a bit and find somewhere to eat. We walked a kilometre or so and we found a place called the Apple Residency that had air conditioning and looked relatively clean, so we figured we’d give it a try. The menu looked good, but when we went to place our order we were told you could only order rice or noodles on a Friday. We were pretty disappointed, but we ordered a rice and a noodle dish to share. They were ok, but they were Chinese style and we didn’t come to India to eat Chinese.


After we finished dinner, we flagged down a rickshaw, tied our flag to the side and started the trek home. We were overtaken by the bus carrying the Chennai players, and Suresh Raina saw our flag and waved at us! We made it home, and crashed into bed, exhausted but elated to have seen some IPL.


We had a bit of a sleep in the morning and then wandered down for breakfast. I thought the food at breakfast was quite good, but the others weren’t as keen on the curries at that hour and didn’t really rate it. We then grabbed our suitcases and checked out of the hotel. They kindly offered to store our luggage for us, though when they gave us the luggage tags we noticed they were stored under the name Mr. Andrews!


We hopped in a rickshaw out the front of the hotel, and headed to Fort St. George, a fort built by the East India Company to protect Madras. It cost us 100 rupees to get in, and it probably wasn’t worth it, but it did kill about half an hour. As soon as we stepped outside the fort we were set upon by a few touts who were desperately trying to sell us sightseeing tours. There wasn’t much left we wanted to see, and they all mentioned taking us to some shops which is code for dropping us off at all the tourist traps to try and make a buck out of us, so we really weren’t interested. They don’t take no for answer, and Dylan kindly told them I was the tour leader, so they were harassing me something fierce. In the end we walked into a garden and literally hid behind a big concrete barrier to hide from one of them. It worked for a couple of minutes, but it didn’t take long for them to find us. In the end, we all decided we’d head to the Subway at Spencer Plaza where we knew there were 2 things we needed – wifi internet and respite from the heat with quality air conditioning. I told one of the touts that if he took us straight there without shopping around, we’d pay him 100 rupees, which for a short trip was a bargain. He agreed, and surprisingly kept his word, which made us very happy.


We sat in Subway, surfed the net and just chilled out in the cold, pardon the pun! There was a restaurant nearby that was listed in the Lonely Planet guide, so we figured that we’d give it a go. It took forever to find, as seems to be often the case in Chennai, but finally we found it hidden at the back of a small complex of shops. We walked in, grabbed a table and then noticed that this was the real deal – there were no plates or cutlery, everyone ate of banana leaves with their fingers. I’m all for doing as others do, but with concerns about the hygiene standards and cleanliness we did a very touristy thing and asked for knives, forks and a plate. It took quite a while for them to understand what we were after, but it came finally. We ordered a curry, some rice, a piece of tandoori chicken and a heap of naan, but they forgot the rice. Luckily there was plenty of food, and it was quite tasty.


After lunch we figured we might as well head back to Express Avenue, as it was air conditioned and large and surely we could pass some time there. We walked there, which was quite a long walk, and were glad to have finally made it. We went in through the metal detector (all the shopping centres have metal detectors, but no matter how loud it beeps and how much metal you might be carrying, they just let you wander in!) and entered the cool of the shopping centre.


There was a dancing display by some Indian dancing company, and it was the most horrible choreography you’ve ever seen. Everyone was out of sync and seemed to be doing their own thing but it was certainly good for a laugh! We wandered around aimlessly for a while after the dancing finished, but we run out of things to do. We all agreed that there was only one thing to do – head back to Subway at Spencer Plaza for more cool and more free wifi.


We walked back in the heat, and finally made it to Spencer Plaza. Sadly, once we got up to Subway it wasn’t very cold for some reason. Still, we got some drinks and sat down for more surfing of the interweb. We got on Facebook and started being a bit silly, the heat and the boredom really was kicking in. We managed to a waste a couple of hours, and then it was time to find dinner. There was a restaurant in the Lonely Planet that was relatively nearby and had a beer garden – yes, a beer garden! Beer is so hard to find in Chennai, so the idea of sitting down to an icy cold beer had us agreeing we’d find it. It took us about 45 minutes to walk there and then another 15 or so to find the place. We found the rooftop beer garden, ordered some food and a couple of beers. The meals were okay, the beer was delicious and the price was cheap, so we were happy. We even got ‘tapas’ with our beers, though instead of yummy stuff like olives and chorizo, we got pineapple, popcorn and tomato!


It was time to head back to the hotel, so we got a rickshaw, bartering him down to 200 rupees, which was still a rip-off. Once we arrived he told us we owed him 250 rupees, so I politely told him where he could go. We got our bags from the hotel, and then asked them to call a taxi. They wouldn’t order a taxi because they have a hotel car, but they wanted 1000 rupees and the taxi ride there only cost 370. In the end they offered us the small car for 500, but it would be a tight squeeze but we took it anyway. 2 of the suitcases were thrown onto the roof-racks and they wouldn’t strap them down. So, we made the drive to the airport with Dylan and Julian each holding an arm out of the window to hold a suitcase down.


We arrived at the airport, and the driver told us we owed him 200 rupees, even though we’d already paid the hotel. He was also told where he could go. We went into the airport and had to join a line to get our suitcases scanned before you can check in. It took over half an hour to get through, and time was ticking away. We checked in for the flight, and were told we were all sitting separately. We weren’t impressed. We then had to clear Immigrations, and the line was ridiculously long. By the time we’d cleared Immigrations, our flight was on its last call and we had to rush to our plane for the 2nd time this trip. We found our seats, and there were a few free seats around us – obviously the computer had assigned us random seats and the guy just couldn’t be bothered changing them.


Our plan took off at one midnight after midnight and our Indian leg was over. The flight itself was relatively uneventful, though very cramped, and I only managed to get 15 minutes. We did get food (just what you want at 1 in the morning) and I had one of the strongest scotch and cokes you could ever have. We arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, got through Immigration in no time and found a shuttle bus to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, where our AirAsia flight would leave from.


We had breakfast in the McDonalds again, and Julian, Alana and Dylan thought it would be funny to post crude and offensive messages on my Facebook. It’s a good thing I don’t have muscles, or they’d be lying in the gutter battered and bruised. Instead, I will take my revenge in more ingenious ways.


We are now waiting to check in for our flight to Phuket, where beer is plentiful and swimming pools are clean...can’t wait!



The glorious tickets
Chennai Super Kings
Fireworks at the stadium
Alana's arm painting


April 11, 2011
Sounds like you are having a very interesting time... reading about the beer made me think of Midnight Express!!! India doesn't really sound like my cup of tea! Stay safe xxx
April 19, 2011
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