Closing the Circle
Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
88Trip End Ongoing
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This is known as the "backwaters" whereby you hire a boat which can be anything from a canoe to a floating gin palace with servants galore and you explore a series of beautiful and tranquil canals. So Steve treated Tania to a canoe and as we floated along enjoying the twitterings of Kingfishers and the like, you could hardly believe you were in India. In case we have not mentioned this, India is immensely noisy!
Back at our crumbling, but sociable guesthouse, we met the lovely Ale and Vale from Italia and should any of you be heading to Italy seeking something new, take a look at the National Park of Ancona, it sounds fabulous!
All in all we could not have been in a more chilled out state of mind. Solar eclipse, beach days, good food, swaying palm trees, boat trips, great books and lovely company had been our diet for the past few weeks. Now we were off to Periyar to see some wildlife and stress was a distant memory.
Stress is defined in many ways and appears in a variety of guises. We shall call this version Sanjay the demented bus driver! We did a four hour countryside bus journey in three hours! It may have saved us an hour, but it has taken years off of our life expectancies. As we alighted at the end of the insane journey, we noticed a huge gash in the side of the bus, pretty sure it wasn't there when we had got on.... This is why we see so many imaginative Indian road signs and we decided to share some of these with you:
Take heed, don't speed
Better late than never
Left is right
Speed thrills, but kills
Don't be a hell mate, wear a helmet
Driving rash, causes crash
Arrive home in peace, not in pieces
Reading an interview with the boss of Volkswagon recently, he explained that they have had to redesign their car horns for the Indian market as according to their own research, Indian people use the horn on average (are you really ready for this?), nine thousand times per month!!
The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a stunning area and although we did not see a great deal, our early morning trek was extremely beautiful. Stopping for breakfast afterwards, as Tania sat down to enjoy her paratha, there was utter pandomonium as a monkey bounded across and stole it right from her hands. Anyone who thinks monkeys are cute, sadly we have had numerous bad experiences with them over many years. However, without the monkey we would not have subsequently got chatting to Airika and Gerald, a really inspiring couple from Seattle. They had quit their jobs and become wedding photographers who travel all over the USA shooting weddings and as we shared a boat trip with them, the photographs they took were simply amazing. We have since looked at their blog photos which are so impressive and we wish them all the best with their future endeavours:
One of the great joys of travelling as we are is that the food and southern India has been superb. What we miss though is actually cooking ourselves so when we heard about an affordable cooking course, we had to go. We were joined by Maryle and Marlous, two wonderful Dutch/French ladies who are great fun and have embraced life in an example we could all learn from. Much laughter and about seven courses later we were ready to sit down and enjoy our feast, fish tikka, okra massala, spiced potatoes, fish molee, parathas, poppadums and more. We have taken notes, but hopefully Marlous will have her garden cafe in South-West France open by the time we get back to Europe and we can become customers.
Of course going out to dinner every night month after month can also become quite predictable so when we get the chance to eat an alternative cuisine we are quick to take it
Distances in India can often be truly overwhelming. From Periyar, if I say to you how do you fancy five hours on the most rickety bus you have ever seen with no windows and a 50/50 chance of the bus driver thinking he is Keanu Reeves in the Speed movie, I guess you may not be too keen. Thankfully we had a rather sedate pilot and the most scenic journey you could ever wish for, it was five hours of bliss as we criss-crossed the Western Ghats that make up such a perfect view.
Arriving in Munnar, it was noticebly cooler for which we were grateful. This is hill station/tea plantation territory although trying to get a decent cup of tea proved to be impossible. But Munnar is a wonderful place for trekking and and we somehow hiked for about ten miles on day one as we sought out tea museums and sunset points.
From Munnar we took a bus to Kochi and finally closed a circle. Three months ago, we arrived in India courtesy of Kochi airport. Ninety days on and we have still only travelled around the small and narrow part of what is an enormous country. To give you some perspective and as we mentioned, distances can be overwhelming, it was now time to embark on a 28 hour train journey just to get to Hampi.