A Travellerspoint blog

Walking the Neighbourhood

February 27, 2016

semi-overcast 30 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

Don gets up every morning and takes more sunrise photos, we have such a beautiful view he just can't resist.
Sunrise from our patio

Sunrise from our patio

View of our homestay from the back

View of our homestay from the back


We decided to do a walk that our host had suggested - approximately 8 kilometres. We found one road he told us to take was blocked off, so we tried another one. This was a little road that passed along the river bank and by people's homes. Nice and shady and lots of birds to watch. We eventually came out on a bigger road and had to follow it awhile to do a big loop. We ended back at the homestay about 3 hours later, hot and tired and ready for a rest. Some of the sights on this walk, were women carrying home cow feed on their heads and power line workers working without a safety net!!
Yikes - scary to watch.
Carrying the feed home

Carrying the feed home

I am a lineman for the county...

I am a lineman for the county...


Later in the afternoon, we tried it again and found the blocked road was passable for walkers, just not for vehicles, so we went down to the river and crossed the bridge. There is a resort over there with a small tea planting around it. Very picturesque. We walked along the river for awhile and then followed the road back towards the loop we had walked in the morning. I got tired of the up and down of the road and said it's tuk tuk time. So we flagged one down and went home for supper that way. Thank heavens for tuk tuks, they are almost everywhere and are so handy and cheap!The river

The river

Bamboo raft for crossing the river

Bamboo raft for crossing the river

Strange sights seen on the walk

Strange sights seen on the walk

Lion carved in cavern under the building above

Lion carved in cavern under the building above

Posted by katdill 02:49 Archived in India Comments (0)

Touring Munnar

February 26, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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We arranged to share a car and driver with Maarten and Lena, a young couple staying at The Shade. They have the room right next to us on the lower level of the house. We have a breakfast patio with a gorgeous view out over the valley and the mountains.
Our driver picked us up at 9:00 am and away we went. First up to Top Station, which is a viewpoint on top of a mountain. We were attempting to get there before the clouds rolled in, but we were too late. Maarten suggested we have a cup of chai from one of the many vendors at the top, and while we were waiting for the tea, the clouds started to lift. So we paid the extra little fee to go down some steep steps to the viewpoints. There are two viewpoints and the second one is down at least twice as many steps as the first one. So I elected to stop at the first one, where the view was just fine. The other three went on down to the second viewpoint. While I was waiting for them, lots of Indian tourists were coming by. They started taking pictures of me(?) and then sitting beside me on the bench for a photo, when I indicated it was OK. What a celebrity I became! I had families gathered around and once I started putting my arms around them, they loved it even more. The first group moved off down to the second viewpoint and then got their pictures taken with Don and the others down there.
So I thought I had a reprieve, but a group of teachers and their families were on tour and they started the whole process over again. After I told them I was from Canada, and showed I was willing to ham it up with them, they started singing and clapping. When I asked what the song meant, they said it was a happy song. Here's a little video of it, taken by Maarten. They came back up to the first viewpoint in time to catch some of the action.

On top of the mountain

On top of the mountain


After we rejoined our driver, we drove down the mountain and stopped at places we had passed by in our rush to the top. We visited Echo Point, which is a dirty beach where you pay admission to stand on the shore and shout at the opposite side. Not really worth doing at all, in our opinion, but there were scads of Indian tourists there. We stopped at restaurant for lunch and bought some tea and chocolate at a shop there. We also saw a very graphic sign in the toilet, depicting how to use the toilet correctly and showing a broken toilet and the bloody backside of someone who had broken the toilet! Unbelievable stuff, I know, but true.
The four of us at a tea plantation

The four of us at a tea plantation


We visited the Elephant Walk, where you can pay and get to ride on an elephant. Lena had thought she might like to do this, but when she saw the elephants she said, "How sad they look" and couldn't bear to participate. I agree with her completely. It seems a sad thing for such intelligent animals to walk in circles for our entertainment.
Elephant Walk

Elephant Walk


Other places we have seen this sign showing that there are still free elephants which cross the roads.
Elephant Crossing

Elephant Crossing


This is called a "Honey Tree", the big lumps on it are wild beehives

This is called a "Honey Tree", the big lumps on it are wild beehives


We also visited a Flower Garden, which was like a garden centre or nursery back home. Our guide took us to the market in town so we could visit an ayurvedic pharmacy. I had told Lena and Maarten about my success with my throat cure and they wanted to try some things. While we were there I picked up some oil for arthritis - hope it works as well!
We discovered a new fruit on the way home. A fellow was selling Palmyra nuts, the fruit of a Palmyra tree. He cut them open for you and inside there are three juicy bits of coconut flesh, which I guess turn into the seed if it's allowed to ripen.
Palmyra seller and driver

Palmyra seller and driver


We had bought some beer and got it cooled for supper. We had quite a nice little party at supper, with all three couple there sharing their experiences.

Posted by katdill 01:33 Archived in India Comments (0)

On to Munnar

February 25, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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We went to the bus station and got on the bus to Munnar. We made sure to go early so we would get a seat. It left at 9:50 and arrived in Munnar around 2:30 with a 1/2 hour break at one stop along the way. What a road! It is paved all the way, but parts of it are so narrow, it is like a single lane road, although it's two lane. We would meet other buses, big trucks, etc. and the drivers would manage to find an angle or slightly wider spot to get past. There were so many hairpin turns, the driver would honk his horn before each one, so anyone coming the opposite way would know and they would beep if they were there. What an early warning system - it worked very well. We made it with no incidents.
Very narrow road

Very narrow road

Amazing gold earrings on the bus

Amazing gold earrings on the bus


We passed many fields of cardamon, as well as tea plantations. The cardamon grows much bigger than we expected, it is 5 to 6 feet high. There is lovely forest up here in the mountains. We climbed quite a bit higher as we traveled, although the place we are staying, The Shade, is apparently at the same altitude as Kumily. But the mountains are all around us. It's cooler here and not as humid as the coast. At night it cools off quite a bit, which is a good thing, as the days can still be just as hot.
Tea plantation

Tea plantation

Temple along the road

Temple along the road


Once we arrived in Munnar, we got a tuk tuk to take us to our accommodation. It is quite a long way out of town, about 15 km, over a rough road that is under construction for part of it. When we arrived and got settled in, our host, Santhosh, took us and the other 4 people staying here on a little tour of his property. He has 2 1/2 acres of pretty steep hillside, which is planted with banana trees, cardamon, elephant foot yam, cacao, nutmeg, pepper, etc. It was quite a treat to see all these up close and find out about how they grow.
Nutmeg tree

Nutmeg tree

Cardamon plant

Cardamon plant


After climbing back up the hill, I was ready for a shower, but Don went off with a French couple for a further walk along the road. There is also a young couple from the Netherlands/Germany, who are in India for a friend's wedding. It sounds like it will be a very exciting event for them. A traditional Hindi wedding - they even have to wear traditional clothing!
At supper, we arranged to go on a tour with a car and driver with them tomorrow. It is more affordable if you can share the price with four people.

Posted by katdill 01:19 Archived in India Comments (0)

Another Slow Day in Kumily

February 24, 2016

sunny 32 °C
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After all the exertion of yesterday, we were pretty laid back today. We did walk downtown and do some shopping. We are leaving tomorrow and so picked up a few things. We went to a pharmacy, which turned out just sold Ayuvedic medicine. I explained I wanted something for my sore throat. So I bought a jar of some plant (don't know what) that is made up kind of like fudge, but not sweet. I just suck on a piece whenever my throat starts to hurt. I can tell it started working right away and my throat feels a lot better now. This cost all of 55 rupees or about $1.
Here are some of the sights we see as we walk around town.
The lock on our hotel room door

The lock on our hotel room door

A hay truck

A hay truck

A student union protest

A student union protest

The fruit store with so many different kinds of bananas

The fruit store with so many different kinds of bananas

The milkman making a delivery

The milkman making a delivery

Everyone carries large bundles on their heads, often with no hands!

Everyone carries large bundles on their heads, often with no hands!


Don tried to go for a hike in the hills in the late afternoon, but he didn't have a very good description of where to go and so, after riding a bus out to the next town and wandering around, he caught the bus back again. We went out for supper and so to bed.

Posted by katdill 08:43 Archived in India Comments (0)

Cooling It and Heating It Up

February 22 and 23, 2016

sunny 32 °C
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I declared Monday a rest and relaxation day. I needed some down time to recover from all the travel. So we just went on a little walk in the morning, while it was cool. (and it stays cooler, longer up here in the hills) We saw monkeys along the wall that marks the edge of the park. We bought some fruit and came back and apart from going out for lunch, did nothing much.
Monekys

Monekys

Huge bamboo

Huge bamboo

Ironing stand, he has an iron that opens and he puts charcoal in it

Ironing stand, he has an iron that opens and he puts charcoal in it

Sign in toilet demonstrating proper use

Sign in toilet demonstrating proper use


We arranged to go to a traditional tribal martial arts performance in the evening, so after supper we went to watch. It was good, but after a few demonstrations of one man with a knife and one man with a piece of cloth fighting, or similar demos, it turned into more of a gymnastic demonstration. There is no doubt these men were in great shape. They jumped thru hoops of fire, etc.
Jumping thru the hoop

Jumping thru the hoop

Twirling the fire

Twirling the fire


We had bought tickets for the bamboo rafting in the park and although I have a very sore throat (is it strep?) I used drugs to get me thru the day. We took a tuk tuk to the park at 7:30 and walked down to the boat jetty. After registering, etc. we rode standing up on a bamboo raft across the river to the other side. Then we walked the trails with our guides. There were 9 tourists and 4 guides with us. We stopped for a breakfast break around 10:00 (they had supplied us with backpacks with breakfast, lunch and water) and then continued on. We saw an elephant standing in a bush eating and they pointed out interesting plants and birds. At 11:00 we reached the bamboo rafts and another guide joined us.
Bamboo raft

Bamboo raft

Tribal native on raft

Tribal native on raft

Tiger pug mark

Tiger pug mark

Elephant family

Elephant family

Our guides

Our guides

They paddled us across part of the lake, where we landed. It was so hot on the lake under the noon day sun! That took about an hour. Then we walked some more looking for a tiger, but had no luck. So back to the landing area for lunch and an hour's rest in the shade. We saw some water buffalo and wild boar at a distance. Then we retraced our steps home. Although on the way back it was a more direct route and we saw a mother elephant with her 3 week old baby and an older youngster. We got a very good look at them and had to take evasive maneuvers to prevent scaring them away. Once we got back we had the tuk tuk driver take us to buy cold beer to take to our room. Then it was collapse for the night. They say it's about a 10 km walk, but it seems much farther in the sun and heat. We used every patch of shade we could for protection.

Posted by katdill 17:49 Archived in India Comments (0)

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