Saturday, 18 December 2010

Monday 13th December - Bhubaneswar/Puri

After an early breakfast we were collected by our guide and taken to a temple en –route to Puri which was high up a hill and gave us a spectacular view of the city.  We drove for a while watching the changing scenery and went to the Sun Temple in Konark, built in the 13th Century with some colossal carvings of life sized elephants, horses and some very fine carvings.

We were allowed to get out of the car for the ubiquitous artisan’s village, this one being appliqué or gaudy tat as were saw it.  We went to a sweetie stall and bought some zingy zangy sweets.  We have no idea what flavour they were, I would say it was beuuuwwwk, sweetish, spicy and very strange especially when you are expecting something citrus.

Eventually arrived at the hotel.  We couldn’t understand if the guide was offering to come back tomorrow and take us to yet another temple but we politely declined and said we would see him in a few days when he came to collect us to go back to Bhubaneswar.

Hotel Toshali Sands is on a road with a couple of shops opposite and a Coffee shop a short walk away, apart from that nothing else for miles.  The reception area was pleasant, check in was painless.  The bellboy took us to our room which was more like a suite with a dining table, chairs and balcony.  It was a little scruffy looking but clean.  The bathroom was adequate except for the bath that had a hole that had been patched and was cracked.  I was sure that one of us would break it completely with our weight.

We unpacked and called housekeeping to request extra pillows and some towels.  No sooner had Will put down the phone when there was a ring at the door with a chap bearing our requests.  Next the woman from reception arrived and stood just inside the door watching us which was a bit spooky.  Thankfully when the housekeeping chap left she did too . . . .  reluctantly.

We settled down for a nap and were disturbed by the phone.  I said hello, a woman at the other end said hello.  It went quiet.  She said hello, I said hello.  It went quiet.  She said Good afternoon, I said hello.  She said Good afternoon (insistently this time) so I said good afternoon.  I was getting bored when she started rattling on about something that I couldn’t understand.  I asked her to speak slowly, then repeat, repeat again.  I had to say I can’t understand.  She didn’t give up, she just kept talking.

I called Will to the phone there followed the good afternoon ritual and Will asking her to repeat herself.  Finally he caught one word. . .. . .   “Massage”.  He said no thanks but she still burbled on and on.  I think when we eventually hung up the conversation had lasted about 10 mins.

I was just getting comfy on the bed and settling down for a nap when the phone rang again.  This time it was the Travel and Tours desk, I said we would see him tomorrow.  I think we managed about 30 mins sleep before the next call, Laundry I think this one was.

We gave up, got showered and dressed and out for a walk.  The shops opposite the hotel may have been pretty sparse but they had everything we required; water, mango juice, biscuits and crisps.  We took a stroll round the grounds of the hotel which is set in a protected area of forest and discovered the pool.  We sat by the pool for a while and were offered massage, foot massage, sauna etc.  Next the entertainments manager advised us that at 7pm there was a demonstration of traditional local dance.  We went back to the room and had a cup of tea in the hopes of getting some peace.

It worked we sat about relaxing and drinking tea till about ten to seven.  We were just on our way out the door when the Entertainments Manager phoned to ask if we were coming.  9/10 for enthusiasm here!

The dancing was to take place in the games room, chairs were set out and people were sitting waiting.  We were given a leaflet explaining that the dance was about poses and was performed by young boys, dressed as young girls.  Hmmmmm!

We got chatting to a chap from the US who told us that 68 of them originally from Gujerat checked in today and another 70 were arriving tomorrow.  We didn’t think the hotel was that big but there were lots of little bungalows dotted around the compound that we had not seen.

Anyway, the dance started and it was quite strange.  Two of the boys looked like boys but there were a couple that were just too good at it and were very pretty too.  The dance was interesting but the poses were more akin to a circus balancing act and most impressive.  

After the dancing we went to the restaurant for dinner, buffet.  It was great, plenty of choice and great flavours.  They had cheesecake and ice cream for pudding which pleased me.

After dinner we retired to our room and played a few hands of cards before bedtime.

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