Jul 272015
 

I was in India for a total of 12 days, but between work, recovering from jetlag, etc, I really only had two days to do any sightseeing. I spent one afternoon going around Chennai seeing temples and such, and the other I just relaxed around the hotel, being absolutely exhausted from long work days. A few sites/thoughts from the time not spent at the client site…

Decided the easiest way to see a fair number of sites in a short time was to give Uber a try. Was a piece of cake and worked flawlessly, and the driver ended up waiting at each site since it was easier than driving around looking for more fares. Our first stop was the Parthasarathy Temple. Parthasarathy is an eighth century temple dedicated to Krishna and the name Parthasarathy, in Sanskrit¬†means the ‘charioteer of Arjuna’¬†referring to Krishna’s role as a charioteer to Arjuna in the epic story Mahabaratha. The coolest part of the temple are all the orante and colourful carvings that made up the structure:

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…and we ran into our first random cow at the temple, just hanging out.

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Small temple in a moat next to the main temple:

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Our Uber was still waiting for us, and we set off next for Kapaleeswarar Temple.¬†Kapaleeswarar is a temple to the Hindu god Shiva, and was built in the seventh century, although the current buildings are thought to date to the 1600s or so. According to Wikipedia “The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal being the most prominent…The temple’s name is derived from the words kapalam (head) and eeshwarar an alias of Shiva. According to the Puranas, during the meeting of Brahma and Shiva at top of Mount Kailash Brahma failed to show the due respect to Shiva. Due to this, Shiva plucked of one of Brahma’s heads (kapalams). In an act of penance, Brahma came down to the site of Mylapore and installed a Lingam to please Shiva.”

The 120 foot gopuram (entrance gate) was built around 1906, so many parts of the structure are actually quite a bit newer:

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Near the temple were all kinds of shops selling fruits, silver, gold, and trinkets:

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…as well as another small temple in a moat

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We wandered the streets near the temples a bit longer, before we couldn’t take the 105F heat any longer and headed back to the hotel. Some other random sites from the two weeks. Random reminder in a restroom:

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…I couldn’t tell if a “red dot sale” was a clever play on words, or…

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Who doesn’t want to shop at Jesus Fine Arts?

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…or for that matter, perhaps you’re Hindu and prefer Ganesh Electronics?

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…the mix of old and new, ancient and modern, is one of the things that makes India so fascinating, combined with the chaotic pace of things.

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…when you only have one helmet…and forget about seatbelts…

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get all that many pictures. It was pretty much nonstop work, and when it wasn’t work it was preparing from work, being exhausted from work, or being exhausted from being only four weeks post-rotator cuff surgery. All things considered, the trip went quite well, and had it been my first trip to India I might have made more of an effort to get out and explore a bit more, but it was my seventh trip and second to Chennai, so being injured the motivation was a bit less.

Next up, and finally, the flight back to DC on Lufthansa.

Oct 212011
 

So, rushed back to the airport and check-in was absolutely empty. We had on boarding pass, and just wanted to get them printed by United since they had been printed by Continental before that. Got the pass, through fast-track first class security, and soon we were chilling in the ANA lounge. A bit of sake, some sushi, catching up on e-mail, and soon it was time to board.

United 837, Tokyo Narita to Bangkok
Depart 18:35, Arrive 23:05, Flight Time 6:30
Boeing 747-400, Registration N117UA, Manufactured 1999
Seats 1A, 1K

Flight was pretty quick – made easier by the fact that I think we both slept the majority of it. Meal was just enough to fill things up for a good doze (plus the wine didn’t help) and soon we were arriving into Bangkok. Honestly, lately, a first class flight on United that doesn’t register is par for the course. Some are really really disappointing, some are memorably good, but the majority are just plain unmemorable…and that’s what this one was.

We grabbed a meter taxi to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, and were soon checking in. It was pouring rain in Bangkok (a prelude to the major floods late) and the Sheraton once again didn’t disappoint. Upgrade to a suite, free massive buffet breakfast, free happy hour with snacks in the hotel bar…all in all, Bangkok (and especially this hotel) remains one of the best travel bargains in the world.

Next morning we were up a bit early, but honestly quite lazy. This was our 7th or 8th trip to Bangkok, and having seen most of the major sites we really just wanted to relax in the middle of the trip. We did a bit of online research after breakfast, and stumbled upon Wat Arun in the Thonburi district which we’d never been too. We’d also never taken a water taxi up the river, so it was a perfect chance to try some new things!

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