Despite having a fairly respectable amount of kilometres to cover today, it was taken at a relaxed pace. Maybe some of the teams have learnt from their burst of enthusiasm yesterday! There was no official flag-off time, and no rigid agenda along the way – just the beauty of the countryside rolling past and whatever adventures the day brings our way. Tomorrow the Malabar Rampage Challenges will start in earnest, so it’s a good idea for everyone to enjoy this last day of pure cruising.
Yesterday we arrived into the Uday Samudra Hotel, and as advertised the location is an absolute palace. The pools, the views, the architecture are all just fantastic from the moment you walk in to the lobby. The teams could hardly believe their luck when they rolled into the parking lot, plastered with the dust and sweat of the day. Everything was truly excellent until our parched participants ordered themselves something to drink and eat in the hotel’s restaurant. Orders for drinks placed at 10.15pm still had only partially materialised by 10.50, and when questions were raised at 11pm our road heroes were greeted with only dumbfounded puzzlement that we had ever ordered at all. Looking around, it seemed everyone else in the bar and restaurant was having a similar experience, and any of the teams that had actually managed to get some service were just horrified by what was passed off as food – the burger was apparently especially unidentifiable! After some huffing and puffing we eventually got the attention of the Duty Manager, but apparently the process for actually complaining was completely alien to them. Insult was finally added to injury when the particularly reluctant waiter who epically failed to serve us called us all liars to the Duty Manager! He knew of no food order! Who are these strange tuk –tuk driving people?! Whoever they are I’m sure they ordered no food, and if they did, they must surely have ordered it late when the kitchen was closed! And so on.
Our advice as the Malabar Rampagers to you the reading world: The Uday Samudra Hotel – beautiful facilities, nice pool, but if you’re planning to stay, bring canned food.
But don’t get the idea that the service along the way has been anything less than great for us with only a couple of rare exceptions. The locals simply haven’t been able to do enough for us every step of the way. For the future runs Aravind has already scouted out the stunning Estuary Bay Hotel. Even getting there requires a ferry boat through spectacular ecosystems of bird life over sparkling clear bay water. Its location is truly-mind blowing, on the southern tip of the continent where a clear lake flows into the sea. The service was friendly, the food delicious, and it’s a pretty good bet that all subsequent Rampages will be staying here instead!
In the afternoon the rally passed over into Tamilnadu, and it was a long easy cruise frequently punctuated by breathtaking scenery and very welcome stops for chai and coconut water. We took a detour to check out the Padmanabhapuram Palace, an amazing ancient granite fortress over four kilometres long, considered to be the hallmark of classic Kerala style building art. It was magnificent to look at, but on the other hand closed for reasons that were obscure. Such are the fortunes of being on an adventure, so we all hit the road again.
It’s a happy birthday to Ed of the Rickshaw Wallas from all of us on the Malabar Rampage and from all the folks at CEMS too. Other good news is that we have both Brett and Sarah back with us full time after a day or two of taking it easy, both back on their feet and determined to be unstoppable! They’ll need their wits about them as we’re getting into Tamil Nadu proper, which means all new levels of heat and potholes. Tomorrow, the official challenges start – and a entirely new dimension of the Malabar Rampage is about to come into play.