Net access has been a bit difficult lately so here is an update since we left Mysore.
20th, 21st and 22nd of February, 2012
We left Mysore by bus and made the 5 hour trip up to Ooty (full name Udhagamandalam).
The bus takes you through a National Park where we saw some deer and elephants. There were various signs displayed about Tigers and the like but I suspect the best way to see one would be to stake yourself to the ground and have someone cover you in honey.
As we climbed higher into the hills the bus trip became more interesting but in a different way - the driver seemed to be new to the job and we came to a sudden halt a couple of times as we met oncoming traffic on some of the 36 hairpin bends. Not as bad as some trips we have had but the prospect of shooting over a cliff always keeps you on your toes. In the end, of course, we made it.
Ooty is quite a pretty place, sitting at 2,240 metres up in the Nilgiri Hills. The night time temperature got down to around 8 degrees and the days were very pleasant with clear blue skies.
On the bus we had met a very nice Canadian couple, Ian & Carol, and we ended up staying at the same hotel as well as spending the next couple of days looking at the local sights in Ooty with them.
Ultimately we caught the same trains down from the hills on our way to Cochin, courtesy of Ian who did the majority of the standing in line and negotiation at Ooty railway station, buying the tickets.
22nd & 23rd February, 2012.
A busy day where we caught a train from Ooty station at about 2.15pm. This was a diesel train running on a one metre gauge and pulling four or five carriages. After about one hour of travel we stopped at Coonoor where the diesel was swapped for a steam train. From this point on there are three rail tracks, the centre one being used by the steam engine to enable it to traverse the steep grade via a 'hook & ladder' system - a very rare type of train nowadays.
Of special interest on this leg was an unscheduled stop to allow a family of three elephants to casually clear the tracks.
The balance of the trip on this train took us to Mettupalayam where we had a 2 hour wait for our next train to Coimbatore. There we had a 5 hour wait to catch the 1.00am sleeper train to Ernakalam station in Cochin, arriving there at 6.15am. Happily, Ian and I shared a common interest in music so we had plenty to talk about and keep us occupied during the long wait.
We also stayed at the same Hotel in Fort Cochin, this being a very large private home owned by a gentleman who, I think, is a Lawyer of some sort. After a bit of a rest we hit the streets for a spot of site-seeing and visited the Mattancherry Palace - a gift to the Raja of Kochi by the Portuguese in 1555.
We also visited the 400 year old plus Pardesi Synagogue in Jew Town as well as numerous other sites such as the famous Chinese fishing nets.
Later on in the evening we went to a Kathakali performance nearby which was both fascinating and (literally), fantastic - so glad we saw this. You should look this up on the Net if you don't know what it is.
24th February, 2012.
Another day of sight-seeing and general wandering around Fort Cochin - this is a pretty laid back area spoilt (a bit) by over-active auto rickshaw drivers. They are only trying to make a living so I shouldn't complain. We did find a place selling beer so dropped in there and had a couple of Kingfishers. Des & I also organised our train tickets for the next leg of our trip to Trivandrum.