I like travelling around the country and have organised many a journey with my friends. When planning a journey of more than two or three hours, there is one golden rule I think should always be followed: leave the city early.
This is something that I learned first from my grandfather's travel arrangements, he would have departed a long time before we woke up and we would wonder where he went in the middle of the night. When we were older and were taken on trips the time of departure was usually about 4.30am or 5am. As children waking up early added an extra element of excitement and mystery to the trip.
As I grew older and started travelling with friends it seemed only natural that the same rule was followed. When driving one realises the benefits of an early departure: avoiding the traffic and the heat of the day. It is good to get a good part of the journey done by about 8am in the morning, before the tropical sun makes the journey uncomfortable.
In the days before air conditioned cars this was very important and now, even with the benefit of air conditioning, extended travel in the afternoon heat can be very tiring.
All my friends thought on the same lines and I assumed that this was the way in which everyone travelled. Friends from abroad however are quite aghast at the thought of leaving this early in the morning. For them, 6am is early and 5am, a very reasonable start by our standards quite alarming.
There is something very pleasant about an early morning drive; the cool morning air, the deserted streets. Watching the soft light of dawn brighten the rural countryside, breakfast by some wayside tea shop, these are all the delights of an early morning start. We would stop for breakfast somewhere between 7.30am and 8.30am, depending on the length of the journey and the availability of some desirable breakfast spot. Post breakfast, we would be driving in normal daytime traffic but by that time we would be well into the rural areas where traffic is light and the driving more sane so there is no strain on the car or the nerves of the driver.
There is another option that is sometimes used: night travel, where the journey starts some time in the evening and one drives into the night. I have tried this once or twice but never liked it. Although it is still cool enough it is not as cool as the early morning. There is a lot more traffic and as most of the roads are either unlit or not properly lit, its a lot more of a strain to drive and more dangerous. There is also the added danger of falling asleep at the wheel which can happen on a long drive.
Does everybody like the early morning start or am I a minority here ?