Having just endured a dial up connection for the first time in my life, I find myself reluctant to spend much time describing Kumily. This is mainly because I didn't particularly enjoy it and I love where I am now. So I will be brief on the hills and wax lyrical about Havelock (the Andaman Island we're on at the moment).
There were two really great things about Kumily, the climate and the homemade chocolate. Being up in the hills and surrounded by tea plantations it was lush and green and much cooler. We were able to do things in the middle of the day for the first time in a month. The main attraction in Kumily is the Periar Wildlife park where Elephants, Tigers, Bears, Cobras, and countless other animals live in the wild. The best way to see animals is on the boat rides in the evening and morning. But getting tickets for these boat rides is nearly impossible and you have to pay 300Rs just to get into the park to queue for the tickets (a meal generally costs us 250Rs). A monopoly is maintained by the tour companies who pay a young Indian to go to the ticket office at 3am and start queueing to buy the morning tickets. After three attempts we managed to get tickets for the evening boat ride.
It was beautiful on the lake, although we didn't see many animals. The best things were an Osprey that flew very close to the boat for a while and an otter that we were able to watch running along the bank for a long time. The loaping stride of the little dark otter was so graceful I couldn't look away. We saw Samba Deer and Bison and Buffalo. Although we didn't see any of the big animals, I loved just the though that somewhere in the huge expanse they were really living wild. However, the most entertaining thing on the boat trip was an old French man who kicked up the most almighty stink about being made to put on a life jacket. He was extremely rude to young Indian official who was trying to truss him up in the orange foam, and was firmly put in his place by a German woman sitting in front of him, "You are guest in this country. Would you behave like this at home? NO you would not. Behave appropriately and according to your age please!" It was great.
We also went on a walk through the hills where we followed the tracks of elephants and bears. We saw the mess an elephant will make of a hill if it's too steep for them to walk down, they get on their knees and slide. We saw scratch marks where a bear had dug for ants. We saw, of course, lots of elehant and bear poo.
One evening we went to see the traditional Kirali dance that is Keralas main dance and drama form. The makeup is truely impressive and we were able to see them applying the green red and white paint. It took two men to dress them up in their costumes, newspaper carefully wedged into a long piece of fabric wound round the body. I'm sorry I can't put up some photos, but if you Google it hopefully you'll get an idea of the costumes. Then there was a demonstration of how the drama is portrayed. The main technique seemed to be repetitive and excruciating facial movements combined with tiny complicated finger/hand shapes. The eye wobbling was so intense that it made my eyes hurt. Sandro couldn't stop laughing at the faces being pulled, luckily a Russian child was intently expressing her opinion to her mother during the performance so no one heard him. The actual performance was the least interesting part. This was due to three things. Firstly, it was almost completely incomprehensible. Secondly, the extremely loud cymbals and drums that were accompanying the acting. Thirdly, of the two actors on stage, only one (the one who had done the demonstration and was a boy dressed as a girl) was capable of staying in character. The other actor just kept playing with his nails and looking around when he was not dancing. Happily the perfromance was only half an hour (as opposed to the traditional four hours) and we made it through the very Indian scrum at the end to get a photo with the actors.
On our last day we got Ayerudevic massages. A lot of Indians use Ayerudevia as their medicine, there are hospitals all over the place. The massage has been exported all through the west as a beauty treatment. They were fantastic. We paid a lot for them but it was worth it. It was the full deal, naked, on a table being rubbed with oil that smelt delicious. They did our full bodies, our heads were massaged with coconut paste. Afterwards we were washed with really hot herbal tea made from over 50 different plants. The whole evening I felt fantastic and energetic. The main thing it does is improve blood flow supposedly.
I guess I enjoyed Kumily more than I thought as I've used up all my time writing about it. I have to leave because I cycled to the main bazarre and it's getting dark. I will fill in on Havelock as soon as I can.