Birthday in Periyar
Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
18Trip End Mar 28, 2006
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My birthday weekend started on saturday with a 7.30 am departure to Periyar via Madurai to visit the temple there. It is famous because it is the only temple in India that has 2 temple elephants. It took 3 and a half hours to get there and we literally had a guided tour, lunch and then left to continue our journey up to Periyar. Madurai is quite a big town and it is the first place since arriving in India, i have noticed a few more western faces. Another 3 and half hours later we arrive at Periyar. The second half of the journey was very scenic, and as we climbed up to reach Kumily (the town near Periyar where the hotel was) it got quite nerve wracking with steep drops and huge trucks and buses coming from the other direction
Sunday was another early start. This time to go on a boat trip on the lake in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Supposedly, most of the tigers, elephants and the like come down to the water's edge at 6 in the morning and so it is the best time to spot them. However, soon after arriving, it soon became apparent that everyone else had been told the same thing and as a result there was all and sundry queuing for the boat trip! It wasn't a quiet affair either. I imagine all the noise from us tourists probably scared off any animals we could have possibly seen which resulted in 3 wild boar sightings and 2 water bison! It was also, you'll all be pleased to hear, damp, misty and freezing! I wore my thick fleece, shoes and socks all day. I think the weather reminded us of home and we all started craving non-spicy food. So we managed to find the indian equivalent of cheese sandwich and tomato soup!
The day improved though with a guided tour around a spice plantation. Kerala is known as the garden of India and seeing how peppercorns, cardamon, vanilla, clove, papaya and coffee beans grow was fascinating.
The day improved once again. This time the hotel had organised for us to have an ayurvedic massage if we wanted. 50 minutes for around 6 pounds. This is very cheap for those who don't know. It was very relaxing if abit greasy as they give you a head massage and put oil in your hair.
Kumily had lots of spice, jewellery, pashmina and other textile shops, so we all bought a few things
My birthday started off very well with a decent breakfast at a posh hotel we mangaged to find the night before called the Cardamon. Everyone had made an effort with a card and the 3 girls i share a room with had bought me necklace with a pendent. From 11 am until 6.30pm we were on the bus travelling back to SCAD. Not the greatest way to spend your birthday but the drive back was quite exciting if a bit hair-raising! Firstly, the Indian way to drive is go as fast as you can and if anything smaller than you get's in the way, you sound the horn and they have to move. It was particularly busy with cattle, goats, pilgrims, dogs, motocyclists.... The overtaking is quite something too but i don't want to worry you too much!
We've got a talk on the Tsunami Relief Work in a minute so i'd better be off. Going to the beach at the weekend in Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India which i'm looking forward to. Hopefully get to use my 'discreet' swimsuit... Love to everyone