Eating at roadside stalls is like playing Russian roulette with your bowels. Say hello to diarrhea.
1. Everyone needs to apply for visa.
2. Strangely, Tiger Airlines didn’t give us immigration card and customs card. You have to walk to the immigration office (to the left of immigration counters), take the card, fill it in, and then clear the immigration. After clearing immigration, you have to walk to the customs (just before exiting), take the customs card, fill it in, and then clear customs. I guess the government needs to create jobs.
3. There is no prepaid SIM card plan in Chennai.
4. You need an Indian mobile line because you need it to book taxis through Olacabs app. (You need an Indian mobile number for confirmation.) But you can’t get an Indian mobile number because only Indian residents can get it. Ask around to see if you’ve any Indian friend to help you.
Back to Olacabs. Olacabs are really an inexpensive and comfortable way to travel. Only 100 rupees (S$2) for first 5km. The app calculates the cost so the drivers won’t cheat you, which brings me to my next point. (In any case, Ola seems to have a strict criteria for their drivers, which makes the company and its drivers trustworthy.)
5. Most people I met were very friendly. They came up to chat, and were honest. Chennai, I feel, is quite safe, safer than Bangkok and everyone here speaks English. (Thank you, British colonialism!) But Huccalyly’s father got 2 fake Indian notes for change. Like in all countries, while people are generally honest, it is best to be careful.
6. The traffic here is alike Jakarta, Bangkok, and other developing countries–no rules. If you need to cross a busy street, just walk at a normal pace; don’t run suddenly.
7. Indian restaurants are so hipster, so environmentally friendly that they have no cutlery. Make sure you cut your nails, wash your hands, and bring hand sanitizer.
8. In big departmental stores, you pay first, bring your receipt to another counter to collect your clothes, and then go to a 3rd counter if you need free tailoring of your purchased clothes. Talk about job creation!
9. This is still a patriarchal society, which is really quite sad for the women. A man shouldn’t offer to shake a woman’s hand; an Indian lady will ignore your hand. But the rule doesn’t apply to a lady tourist. If you’re a lady tourist, you can offer to shake an Indian’s hand.
10. When you are leaving Chennai, remember to take a luggage tag from your airline ticketing counter for every cabin luggage you have. The authorities will stamp on the tags each time you pass a security check. Your tags will have many stamps. It’s not inefficiency; it’s job creation.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.