A Travellerspoint blog

Moving on to Kumily

February 21, 2016

sunny 32 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

We had bought tickets on the A/C train from Kollam to Kottayam while we were in Kochi. But on the advice of our host, Vijeesh, we decided to take the 8:00 train from Munroe Island to Kottayam instead. This would be cheap and get us to Kottayam quicker. So for 25 rupees each, we got on the train and found seats. Anja, a young German woman who had been staying at the same place, came with us. She was traveling to Munnar, so our path was the same for awhile.
At one of the next stops, a group of 2 men, 1 woman, and 1 girl got on. They were Indian college teachers going to a friend's daughter's wedding near Kottayam. The young girl, Devira, wanted to talk to Anja and us. They all spoke quite good English and we passed the time, about 2 hours, chatting with them.
Our new train friends

Our new train friends

Anja with Devira and her mom, Ishmi

Anja with Devira and her mom, Ishmi


After we arrived at Kottayam, we took a tuk tuk to the bus depot to catch a bus to Kumily. Anja came with us to get a bus to Munnar. There was a bus leaving right away so after a bathroom break - and the experience of an Indian squat toilet for old stiff knees and hips is unforgetable - we hopped on the bus for a 3 1/2 hour ride. There was a stop at one town long enough for Don to go and buy some snacks for us. I shared my seat for awhile with a couple of sisters, who were traveling with their mom and gramma to visit their aunt and cousins for the day. They were pretty shy but they talked a little bit to me.
Two sisters

Two sisters


We passed rubber plantations, coffee estates, and tea plantations. The views from the road were impressive when we could see thru the thick stands of forest. After we arrived, there was a tuk tuk driver expecting us and took us to Kerala House, our accommodation here. It is more like a hotel, with a big room with a lovely balcony looking out over the Tiger Reserve. It seems quite unlikely we will see a tiger, as there are only 35 to 40 in the whole park, which is very large.
Rubber trees

Rubber trees

View of the hazy mountains

View of the hazy mountains


He explained some of the park trip options to us and we decided to go on the bamboo rafting trip the day after tomorrow. So he took the money and went off to book a ticket for us.

After a rest and shower, we went out to find supper. We ate at Grandma's Restaurant, no grandma in attendance, but good food anyway. Then back to bed - traveling is pretty exhausting, both the trains and the bus are noisy, jolting rides.

Posted by katdill 21:14 Archived in India Comments (0)

A trip to Verkala

February 20, 2016

sunny 32 °C

After an early breakfast, we went to the train station to catch the 7:30 train, which we were told would not come until 8:00. Well, it actually didn't come until 8:45! It was a crowded train and we had to stand for awhile, then I got a seat but Don stood the whole way. He had read it should take about 1 1/4 hours to get to Verkala, but it was less than an hour. I guess the train driver was trying to make up time.
After we arrived, we walked a couple of kilometers along the road, thru town, to the beach. It is a nice looking beach with very fine sand, but there is quite a current offshore. We rented one beach chair and an umbrella for two hours. Don went in swimming a couple of times, but I was not brave enough and sat and read under the umbrella. When our two hours were up, we went up to a restaurant just off the beach and had lunch on their second floor covered balcony. What a nice view and the breeze was great.
Verkala beach

Verkala beach

Don going in

Don going in

Me in the shade

Me in the shade


Restaurant balcony

Restaurant balcony


Eventually it was time to go and we took a bus back over to the train station. There the 4:00 train was late and didn't come until 4:45. See a pattern there? We did have seats this time and it took just over an hour to get back to the Munroe Island station. This train stopped at every little station along the way.
We were walking from the train station when two young fellows pulled up on their motorcycles and offered us rides. So on we climbed and they delivered us home. Very nice of them.
While we were waiting for supper, Vijeesh came and invited us to come to the local school with him. The school was celebrating its 23rd anniversary. It was like a combination dance recital and talent contest. We stayed for a bit but left when it was time for supper. We had a nice last supper here and made plans for the morning.
School celebration

School celebration

Posted by katdill 05:38 Archived in India Comments (0)

Travel to Munroe Island

February 18, 2016

sunny 32 °C

We caught the ferry from Alleppey to Kollam. This ferry is advertised as a "tourist ferry" and consequently is much more expensive than the previous ferries we had been on. The ferry is in no better condition, but they do stop at a resort for lunch and also have a tea break midafternoon. The ferry ride is 8 hours long - you can go on the train in 2 hours, and I'm sure it costs less as well. However, you do get to cruise the canals and watch life go by at a very leisurely pace.
We saw a funeral procession, many different fishermen, a woman winnowing rice, canoes full of cement blocks, piles of sand or dirt, all kinds of things.
Our ferry

Our ferry

Funeral procession

Funeral procession

Fishing

Fishing

Poling the canoe

Poling the canoe

Boat of workers

Boat of workers

Woman winnowing rice

Woman winnowing rice

Herding ducks!

Herding ducks!

We arrived in Kollam around 6:30. Then we got a tuk tuk to take us to Munroe Island, which is 25 km away. He tried to take the regular route, but there was a huge traffic jam caused by the last day of a temple festival. Throngs of people and vehicles, all trying to make it through. So he turned around and took a longer route around that section that ended up being quicker, I think. We had to ride on a vehicle ferry to come across to the island and then he finally delivered us to our accommodation, Munroe Island Backwater Homestay. We met our host, Vijeesh, while we were waiting for the ferry. He had taken a guest into the temple festival and was just on his way home as well.

We had supper not long after we arrived and very quickly went to bed, after a long day.

Posted by katdill 05:24 Archived in India Comments (0)

Canoeing the Canals

February 18, 2016

sunny 32 °C

We got up early (again!) to go on a 6:00 am canoe trip. Vimalan, Vijeesh's father, took us and a couple of young women out in his wooden canoe. We were out on the water before the sun was up.
Sunrise

Sunrise


He poled us thru the canals in the island, showing us different trees and birds along the way. We stopped at one house, where a woman demonstrated spinning coir (coconut fibre) and made a small rope. She also made us fried bananas and chai for a small price. We had to duck very low to go under some of the bridges - we called it bridge yoga - as we navigated through the channels. We occasionally met other boats and had to squeeze past. At one point there was a cow in the canal and it just moved over to the side as we went past.
Coir spinning

Coir spinning

Low bridge

Low bridge

Passing the cow

Passing the cow


We did pass a boat being built. It takes 1 month to build one of these big wooden canoes, approximately 20 or 24 feet long.
Meeting another boat

Meeting another boat

In our boat

In our boat

Boat building

Boat building

Don helping paddle against the wind

Don helping paddle against the wind


When we got back we had breakfast on the deck outside our cabin, sweet coconut filled pancakes. Then Don and I went for a walk around the island to find the train station and get info about our next journey. We went down the wrong road for the station, but saw a couple of new birds. We had to climb up over the tracks and walk along them a little way to get to the station. After we found out what we wanted to know, with help from a young man who spoke good English, we walked back.
Our little cabin

Our little cabin

The patio

The patio


We had a banana leaf lunch. The people here have been very good about my diet and have made special curry for me, that won't make my arthritis worse. We ate with our hands, we can have a spoon if we want, but it's kind of fun to try and do it their way.
Banana leaf lunch

Banana leaf lunch


Then it was just time to rest in the heat of the day. Don went for a little walk later in the afternoon, but I was pooped.

Posted by katdill 17:30 Archived in India Comments (0)

Visit the Beach and a Massage

February 17, 2016

sunny 34 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

We were awoken at 5:00 am by the temple festival next door. They played a "Morning Call" song, followed by other recorded music. Apparently, for the three days of the festival, there is loud music from 5 to 9 am and from 5 to 9 pm. We didn't jump out of bed, but it's hard to do anything more than doze with such loud music playing.
We decided to visit Marari Beach instead of going to Alleppey Beach. Alleppey is said to be pretty rough and wild, dangerous for swimming. So we took a bus about 15 km north of the city to Marari Beach. The bus dropped us off along the main road and we walked down a side road to a lovely beach. Lots of sand and gentle waves. I even went in swimming, which shows how none threatening it was, or how hot I was? We rented the use of a couple of chairs for 2 hours so we could sit in comfort in the shade of the palms.
Marari Beach with Don talking to the women who watched our belongings when we went in the water

Marari Beach with Don talking to the women who watched our belongings when we went in the water

The fishing boats waiting on the beach

The fishing boats waiting on the beach


While we were at the beach, we discovered another new way of fishing. There were these funny looking paddle boards on the beach. Don was told they are full of air. We saw the fisherman out in the water paddling them around. And then we got a chance to see them load up their nets on them and set off from the beach. Giant air mattress as fishing boat, standing up on one bringing in the net must be a real balancing act.
Setting off

Setting off

Paddling off to fish

Paddling off to fish


We went to a nearby restaurant for lunch, Joys Hotel and Restaurant. I don't think there is any "hotel", it seems to be what they call a restaurant. This was a tiny place with 4 tables. We had to wait for someone to finish so we could eat. and there were people waiting for us to finish. Good food, though!
Joys Restaurant

Joys Restaurant


On the local bus there are three men working, the driver, the conductor who collects fares, and the door man who opens the door for those getting on and off and rings a bell to tell the driver it's safe to go. It's an important job - the bus driver can pay more attention to traffic and not about the bus riders. Every bus seems to have a different kind of bell.
Door man on bus

Door man on bus

His bell

His bell


We caught the bus back to town and did some more exploring of shops, This meant visiting a supermarket - a grocery store just like home, except for the different vegies for sale. Also, we visited a fabric store that we assumed was having a sale because it was so crowded with women. But no, when we talked to the saleman he said it is like this every day!
Normal day at the fabric store

Normal day at the fabric store


We went back to the umbrella store and bought an umbrella hat. I don't know how much it will be used, but they are great! The salesman had a great time showing us all the different kinds of umbrellas we could buy. Fancy umbrellas for temple ceremonies, ones with a fan to help keep you cool, a square one, a heart-shaped one, one with a music player in the handle so you could load your memory card and play your music! Fascinating!
Umbrella with fan in the top

Umbrella with fan in the top

Square umbrella - even the handle is square!

Square umbrella - even the handle is square!


After we returned home and showered, we were picked up by a tuk tuk and taken to Visrutha Ayurvedic clinic for massages. We selected this clinic based on advice from Thomas, our host. I had 2 hours of massage and Don only had one hour. We both had the general relaxation massage and I added a "bundle massage" which is a cloth pad of herbs dipped in very hot oil and pounced all over my body. It was great and after having a day of very sore joints from the curry, just what I needed.
We went straight to supper after the massage and when we returned home, we found the temple festival in full bloom. Lots of lights, oil lamps, flowers, offerings, etc. We had seen the huge cauldrons they were cooking with when we left in the morning. Not a huge number of people, apparently this temple is owned by a couple of local families and is a neighbourhood temple. And the music shut off at 9:00 just as promised.
Cauldron in the morning

Cauldron in the morning

Temple entrance at night

Temple entrance at night

Devotees and offerings

Devotees and offerings

Posted by katdill 17:23 Archived in India Comments (0)

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