Our plan for a jungle hike didn't work out as well as I hoped. We caught a bus from Kozhikode to Kalpetta, which is one of the jumping off points for Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. While on the bus, a man sitting near us helped us to find the correct stop and then tried to tell us that we needed to get on another bus to get to Wayanad. I didn't believe him, and told him we were going to grab some breakfast in Kalpetta before continuing on. He was happy to point us to a restaurant and join us for some food. He didn't really talk much, and seemed reluctant to sit at the table with us. We've found this almost everywhere we do. For some reason, our presence in restaurants is quite entertaining to most of the other diners. When we sit down to eat, all the nearby tables turn to stare at us, and some of them even start laughing hysterically. I used to think it was because we were bad at eating with our hands, but in Kalpetta, people turned completely around in their chairs to stare at us even before our food arrived. Also, whenever we are eating with someone who we met on a bus or something, they all seem somewhat embarrassed to be sitting with us. In Varkala, our guides kept closing the doors to our booth, this guy in Kalpetta wouldn't sit down at the table until the food came, and almost everywhere else we go, people would rather stand and wait for another table to open up than sit at an adjacent table to us. They're happy to stare from a short distance, but embarrassed to sit too close. When we find someone who we feel comfortable asking, we are planning on trying to figure out what is so interesting about us. In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to deal with the stares and giggles.
Anyway, we ate our food, and as soon as the bill came, our friend from the bus disappeared. We were planning on buying his meal anyway, but he could have at least stuck around instead of running outside to wait for us. Enough complaining. Instead of taking his advice and getting on another bus, we went to the district tourism office and waited for it to open. We soon got impatient and started asking around at hotels for a decent place to hike and explore the park. No one seemed to know anything, so we just turned on a random side street and began walking. There was a little structure on top of a huge rock face, and we knew there had to be a trail up to it. We found it soon enough, and after about 45 minutes of crossing slippery rock faces in the rain, we made it to the top. The view was nice, and it felt good to do a little walking after spending so much of our time in India on buses and trains.
After relaxing at the top of the hill, we continued on through the jungle until some encounters with leeches and exceptionally large bugs forced us to turn around. I got my first leech, which wasn't as exciting as you'd think. I took it off before it got into me too bad, but it was enough to turn us back toward the town. On the way down, John started walking back towards the trail, but I was able to convince him that hiking down a stream was a better idea. I figure I've got about another week before John stops listening to my ideas about hiking down streams and through jungles, but until then, I'm going to try and get as much bushwhacking in as I can. We made it down with no major injuries, but did get caught in a sudden downpour.
All in all, it was not a bad day, but the town of Kalpetta definitely didn't go over well with us. We head to the Kodagu region next, where I'm sure I can get John to follow me somewhere terrible. I'll let you know.