17th October 2009:
Next stop, Periyar in the hills of Kerala. A rather death defying and treacherous drive up into the hills, along narrow, not very good roads, with oncoming traffic going far to fast! It wasnt the easiest or most comfortable ride, even in the van! But the views along the road are very beautiful and very different from the rest of India. Very lush, and green, and palm trees everywhere.
Our Hotel was stunning, as we drove into lodges along both side, covered by trees. Very rustic and simple, but very beautiful too. After a quick freshen up, we headed the 0.5miles down the road in our Comfort Tour A/C van, non the less to the Spice Plantation! (we could of walked, but hey its a Luxury Tour, we dont strain ourselves!).
The Plantation is a chance to see what grows in this region. We were introduced to pepper, black, green and white, Curry leaf, turmeric, coffee beans, and of course, every girls best friend, Cocoa! A few nibbles on leaves and other foul tasting spices, we headed back the 0.5 miles in our A/C van.
The Tour Group all met for Dinner at the local Hotel next door, where Dally G was horrified to see that Roasted Rabbit was on the menu! Not sure why that was such a shock, as i would have liked abit of stewed rabbit! hehehehe!
Oh and Happy Diwali, Sal Mubarek!
18th October 2009:
Oh a very very early start, up at 6am and out of the hotel at 7am, as we were going to Periyar Tiger Reserve to see Tigers, and Elephants, and Buffalo, and other big big animals!
But first we had to put on the most attractive and fashionable piece of clothing! No not a hat, or the latest pair of Jimmy Choos! No we had our own pair of Leech socks! Yes you heard me, Leech socks. What could they be for i hear to you ask??? Well the name may give it away! Donning the latest craze against Leeches, we were pulled across a not so safe or sturdy bamboo raft, that leaked water everywhere. For fee of drowing we stayed very still, so that our guided could pull us across the other sided of the lake. Once there, we headed off into the Reserve ready to meet the Tigers and other BIG animals!
After walking for what felt like hours, our guide pointing out interesting titbits about spiders, and beetles, ants, birds (we couldnt see, but could hear in the trees), we headed into the woods! It was getting exciting as soon we would be face to face with the ellusive Tigers of India! Trekking in, the calls of Langur Monkeys echoed through the trees, we spotted a few, jumping along the branches. Even saw a Giant Squirrel, My god it was exciting, never thought Squirrels could get sooo big! But they can in hot countries, big as cars some say.
Also came across the remains of an elephant that had died after a fight with another elephant, fascinating seeing the size of the bones, and the nail! But onwards we trekked, deep into the woods. Deeper and deeper, getting darker and darker, monkeys howling around us until..........we came out near the other side back to the raft!
Alas, we didnt get to see the Tiger, or the Elephants, or anything bigger than a giant Squirrel! Slightly disappointing as this is what we had all expected, being a Tiger Reserve and all! The only consolation was that we did get a few Leeches in our socks.
As it was still early, we had breakfast and bought ourselves some spices, vanilla pods and the local chocolate (not worth its, tastes like bad cheesy leech socks!). I (Trushanti) had opted to go on an Elephant ride, so went back to the Spice Plantation. Had a 30min ride around on a bit Elly called Lucky. Myself and Fellow Tour mate, Pam enjoyed the ride around the Spice plantation, clicking away on our cameras from every angle possible. We then got to wash the Elephants with a hose and scrub its back. Oh that very cheeky Elephant thought it would be very funny to blow some water from its trunk right into my face! Ill get you back if its the last thing i do!!!
The Evening's attraction was a group Tour to get an Ayurvedic massage. Now, when it says Full body massage, youd think that you atleast get to keep some of your clothes on right? Ohh no, this was being as bare as the day you were born, with a little strip of cloth tied around your privates to hide your modesty.
But the Massage it self was very good. These women must have muscles, as the amount of pressure and pummelling they do to your back, etc is not easy. I felt a bit bruised afterwards. But that wasnt the highlight, the state of the art Steam closet was the best. You sit in it with your head poking out, whilst the masseuse stokes up the boiler and watches you sweat for 15mins! You then get a rub down like your a kid and youve just got out the bath! But your skin feels silky soft. That is until you head outside in the 37 degree heat and start sweating like your going through the early menopause! Nice.