The Sea View is OK but it would be nicer to be on the beach – this hotel isn’t and, despite the name, does not have a sea view. We decided to stay at least one more night, and use the day to reccy alternatives. The light of day revealed just how much of Patnem is still being built. Concrete or any parmanent buildings are banned from the beach area, so the cafes and hut camps are rebuilt each season from timber, thatch, tarpaulins and wicker panels. And even though it’s not anywhere like peak season, the prices are steep – anything up to Rs3000 per night for ones right on the front. They do have private bathrooms but even so compare badly with the Rs900 we are paying at the Sea View. The sand premium is evidently pretty high, and we’re not convinced we want to pay it. Although a few places are technically within budget, we could do with underspending for a while to make up for Mumbai and get a bit in hand for Hong Kong. Mickey’s was the only reasonably priced place at Rs1000, but we couldn’t look at a hut as they are all occupied until tomorrow.
We ended up walking all the way to Palolem, having got chatting to an Irish guy who mentioned some cottages for rent in Colomb, but we couldn’t find them. Palolem doesn’t look too bad at this time of year, but its more crowded than Patnem and much, much larger. It’s OK to visit for a change, but we’ll stay in Patnem. There’s a place on the beach road, not on the beach but nearer than the Sea View, which has spacious, high-ceilinged rooms with shady verandahs set around a garden. At Rs700 a night and not up 2 flights of stairs they are a definite improvement, so we’ll move there tomorrow. I suspect that we were shown the least desirable standard room at the Sea View in an attempt to sell us a more expensive A/C room – it’s on the top floor and catches the sun, so it gets hot (thicker curtains would help). If that was their ruse, it’s backfired on them.
Tuesday 12th November 2013
We dumped our bags in our new room and went to the beach for scrambled eggs and brown toast. This brown bread business is a new development, but it appears to miss the point – I’m sure it’s just white bread with colouring. Still, bread has improved considerably since our first visit to India 20 odd years ago – it’s lost the odd sweetness that it used to have. There seem to be few enough people here to mean that there shouldn’t be a race to get beach towels on loungers at the crack of dawn – Papaya’s, where we had breakfast, has a comfortable lounging area at the front, and at this point in the season a drink every hour or two should be enough to secure a spot for the day.
But first, back to the Om Saisamarth to settle in and catch up on chores – laundry (hurrah, hot water) and internetting. Now we’re here, the room’s limitations have become clear. There’s no wardrobe or hanging space, even though there’s plenty of space for it, which would be good for somewhere that we plan to stay a couple of weeks. A top sheet has been provided now to replace the quilt that would suffocate us, but a requested waste bin has not yet appeared. We also have to provide our own toilet paper – at Rs50 a roll it’s expensive by Indian standards and it’s not usual for cheaper hotels to supply it. But these are minor gripes – it’s sufficiently comfortable to make us feel that the first really relaxing phase of this trip has begun. There may be nothing to report for the next couple of weeks, since we plan on doing very little indeed!