01 Apr - 05 Apr 2011 Kanyakumari

South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Tamil Nadu
Manickam Tourist Home +914652246387 hotel_manickam@rediffmail.com
Comfortable double room with stunning sun-rise views over the Bay of Bengal from our private balcony, all for only INR 950.- or US$ 21.10 per night, including breakfast for two.
Professional and friendly enough Indian staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Manickam Tourist Home in Kanyakumari, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Exploring the atmospheric and touristic pilgrim town of Kanyakumari aka Cape Comorin, meeting domestic tourists and pilgrims from all over India at the busy ghats, and watching both magic sun rises over the Bay of Bengal and mystic sun sets over the Arabian Sea.

"Here comes the sun, here comes the sun.
And I say it's all right.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces.
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun.
And I say it's all right."

Booking together with thousands of excited and friendly Indian pilgrims, both young and old, a reasonably safe boat tour (Poompuhar Ferry Service for INR 20.- or US$ 0.45 per person, return) to the two famous rocks, Vivekananda Rock (entrance INR 10.- or US$ 0.20 per person) and Thiruvalluvar Rock (free entrance), about 60 m apart from each other and located c. 500 m off the coast, India’s own “Land’s End” and the original sacred focus of Kanyakumari.

Bribing a corrupt temple servant (INR 50.- or US$ 1.10 per person in his own pocket) for a private grand tour of the only-for-Hindus Kumari Amman Temple, dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanya Devi who may originally have been the local guardian of the shoreline, but was later absorbed into the figure of Devi, consort of Shiva, and listening afterwards to the interesting prophecies of a palm-reading magician/mystic/charlatan (INR 20.- or US$ 0.45 per client for the complete séance) who did a fairly nice job with plenty of neuro-linguistic programming (i) by asking mostly cleverly phrased alternative questions, (ii) by picking up our subtle body signals and physiological changes (e.g. hand-muscle tensions, voice-quality changes, breathing frequency) and (iii) by delivering a mesmerising mix of vague and specific answers and prophecies, always in the positive, e.g. for Matt "...making a million in 2011..." (but he did not mention the currency), "...closing successfully a property deal in 2012..." (he did not hint at the location) and "...living to the age of 90 years..." (no word about Matt's sanity); but anyway, to watch this resourceful and highly skilled guy at work should be made compulsory for all spymasters in the intel community.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” 

Strolling through Kanyakumari’s lively and vibrant Christian fishing community (where most women still wear a red tilak dot on their forehead, but Indian saris or churidars have been replaced with ankle-long cotton dresses), visiting their impressive 100-year old Our Lady of Ransom Church (which boasts a beautiful statue of Mother Mary, clad politically correct in an Indian sari), one of the most impressive churches in India, and listening to the choir’s electronically amplified chants and hymns from our hotel's balcony (their Hallelujahs were a lovely mix of Christian text and Indian hare-rama-hare-krishna sing-song melodies).

Visiting the huge seven-storey pyramidal gopura of the Stanunathaswami Temple at Suchindram (c. 12 km northwest of Kanyakumari, public bus for INR 7.- or US$ 0.15 per person), listening to the temple’s musical rock pillars which emit a chime when struck and watching the local sinners cleaning themselves from their misdeeds by doing three full-body immersions into the slimy, green water of the attached holy tank, yuck!

Matt: Enjoying the therapeutic pleasures of an ayurvedic full-body oil massage in Master Jyothi’s famous Siddha & Ayurvedic Oil Massage Centre (a primitive shack with a wooden table and a gas burner for a wok where he could heat up his secret herbs) +914652247127 for INR 500.- or US$ 11.40 per hour.

Taking a convenient local bus for INR 30.- or US$ 0.70 per person from Kanyakumari to Tiruchendur (Tamil: “beautiful holy town”) and enjoying an entertaining ride along the Coromandel Coast thus spotting (i) colourful cartoon-like Hindu temples and off-white neo-Gothic Christian churches, (ii) vast on-shore wind farms and the brand-new atomic power station at Koodankulam (built right on the shore of the tsunami-prone coast of the Gulf of Mannar), (iii) skinny new-age gurus with long unkempt hair and obese Tamil ladies, obviously serious lovers of sugar/jaggery, cheap cookies and vadais (deep-fried lentil cakes), with their beautiful saris barely covering their appalling spare tyres, (iv) wild umbrella thorn acacias on (almost African looking) red soil and well-tended palm trees in orderly plantations and (v) scores of unholy goats and holy cows rummaging through heaps of plastic trash in this almost bucolic South Indian litterscape.

Click below for blog posts about atmospheric Asian massage parlours
15 Aug - 18 Aug 2012 Ulaanbaatar
08 Feb - 06 Mar 2012 Bangkok
12 Jan - 18 Jan 2012 Yangon
15 Jul - 25 Jul 2010 Louangphabang
09 Feb - 22 Feb 2010 Chiang Mai

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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