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I woke in the night with diarrhea, but thankfully no vomiting (I didn’t throw up the entire trip). Today was a write-off. I slept pretty much all of it, in between visits to the bathroom. Carol not only did an incredible amount of online booking and organisation for the rest of our trip, but also did some urgent work that had come up; all while out in the corridor where the wi-fi was stronger than in the room.

In the evening we both had french fries for dinner, very much hoping I’d be well enough tomorrow to go and see Golconda Fort.

24th February

After a few last visits to the bathroom this morning, I thankfully seemed to be OK, so we checked out and got a tuk-tuk to Golconda Fort in the west of the city. This is a classic Indian fort, a huge site smothering a rocky hill, started in the 11th century; actually multiple forts built in and on these natural fortifications, mammoth boulders incorporated into the walls, and dotted with a couple of small mosques and a Hindu temple. It’s all crowned with a durbar hall with an amazing view of the vast, smoggy city below. There is also an extensive area of palace ruins, featuring a tall, dark hall from which came the chittering of multitudinous bats (and the overpowering smell of their guano). As always, we had some locals asking us for selfies – in this case a man and his family, and later two young women who were studying ‘medical coding’ in Hyderabad.

Back at the hotel, we got our bags and sat in reception for a while, then with some difficulty got a car to take us to the airport. The flight to Chennai went off smoothly, though we couldn’t find anything decent to eat at the airport for some strange reason and had chips at a fast food place. But the IndiGo plane was clean, the staff efficient, and the hour-long flight easy. The only glitch was me leaving my Swiss Army knife in my carry-on bag and having to throw it away – this is the second time I’ve done this and I vowed never to carry one with me on travels ever again!

At Chennai airport we got very frustrated because the driver from the hotel who was supposed to be picking us up couldn’t find us; even though we were just outside a clearly labelled departure gate, were the only people with backpacks, and the only non-Indians in sight! I got a bit angry when he finally showed up, after Carol and he had exchanged a novel’s worth of text messages, and my patience had reached its end. I calmed down on the long drive to the hotel, but he certainly didn’t get a tip!

Thankfully, Vishnal, the guy on the desk at the Novatel about half an hour south of Chennai (we weren’t stopping there as it’s just a big uninteresting city) was smart and efficient and apologetic, and smoothed over our annoyance with various discounts. This is a pretty good hotel, though we’re only here for one quick night before we continue south into Tamil Nadu. We had room service for dinner, and I even had a beer with my vegetable biryani – though I really am getting very sick of biryani.

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