The bus from Hyderabad was a semi-sleeper which cost 1000 Rupees. We stopped once for a toilet break and snacks, but after that, it was a case of squatting on the roadside for a pee with long piece of fabric wrapped around me! The idea to put on a 2 hour Indian “comedy” (The Bodyguard) full blast was an interesting decision as EVERYONE was subjected to watching it (despite us not understanding a single word). But, finally, somehow, we sort of, almost, fell asleep…. Kind of.
Admittedly, the main reason for coming to Pondicherry, as well as being to break up our journey down to Varkala, was because of how pretty it was portrayed on Life of Pi, and the idea of a French colonial town was also appealing.
We arrived at our pre-booked hostel, and found that we foolishly hadn’t read the small print. This Ashram-run guesthouse had a 10.30pm curfew, as well as being quite far away from the promenade, and as appealing as it (didn’t) sound, AND despite having already paid the deposit, we decided to stay elsewhere. Our rickshaw took us to a guesthouse, which, surprise, surprise, knew we were coming. (In India, we have noticed that rickshaws try to take you to their friends’ guesthouses, inform them that people are coming, and the guesthouse charges them a lot more, and the rickshaw gets some kind of commission). Nevertheless, we agreed to the 600Rupees per night for a basic double non-AC ensuite room, dumped our stuff, and went out exploring.
Around the corner, was the main town centre, bustling with your standard travellers’ clothes and jewellery shops, souvenir shops, cafes, and further down… way down, but staying straight on the road, we came to the “beach” – > not one you could sunbathe or swim at, but definitely one with a lovely promenade to walk along.
It’s true, there is a lot of French influence in this town, maintained perhaps because of the high volume of French expats here. It is truly a beautiful town, though annoyingly I forgot to take photos of this place until 10 minutes before we had to leave. It is a quiet and laid-back area, and the food is delicious. As you might expect, everything here comes at a higher price than most of India (well, the places we visited anyway).
Our few days here were spent exploring the town, drinking lots of coffee, perusing the many handicraft shops in which everything is “very good price”. It was nice to find somewhere one could relax a little and slow down a little too.