We arrived early to the bus company’s designated pick up spot, and as a result had to endure an hour or so of pretty intense begging. It began with a few young women and their children which was fine. We gave them some small money and shared our fruit with them. After about 20 minutes they were joined by, and promptly scared away by, around a dozen gassed high young boys. One of them had a missing leg, another was swinging what looked like a ‘Jaipur foot’ round his head like some sort of menacing weapon. They were increasingly harassing the crowd, grabbing people and swiping cigarettes from mouths. After about 10 minutes people were getting increasingly pissed off and there were glimpses of patience being shot to pieces. This made me laugh and in turn, saved my own temper from erupting.
I was feeling a bit dubious with regards to the state of the bus but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Our top berth was a fairly spacious, clean double with windows that opened fully (thus facilitating numerous ways to ease the journey!). At about 11pm the bus stopped to break the journey at a grotty roadside café. I’d been in there with Lyns on our last trip and was, again, forced into using the male toilets. Again, they didn’t provide a pleasant toilet experience.
Arriving into Chaudi a record breaking three hours early we luckily caught a rickshaw to take us to Patnem. But arriving there at 3.30am the week before the elections, we obviously found everything to be closed. So we camped down on Patnem beach and slept like babies until around 8am! Quite possible the best sleep I’ve had since arriving in India. It’s another thing ticket off my wish list too. Last time I was in India I had tried, unsuccessfully, to convince someone to camp on the beach with me. I loved it underneath the stars with the sound of waves as background noise. On wakening we found a German shepherd sitting proudly at our feet. One of the men from a beach shack later told me it had been circling us all night and had fought off other dogs that had tried to approach us. It had claimed us and looked after us. I fed it well as a thank you.