After leaving Munnar we were on our way to our next hotel in Thekkady.
We stopped at a spice garden. Being so green fingered this was right up our alley. We were given brightly coloured plastic hats to shield us from the downpour and led around the gardens. We were shown all different types of spices, plants and peppers and told their healing properties and medical uses as well as what food they complimented. We got to taste peppercorns, chillies, clove and turmeric which left us all with yellow fingers,lips and teeth (like we had a 60 a day nicotine addiction.)
We arrived at the Sandra Palace Hotel in thekkady. The name is a lot grander than the hotel itself but it was basic, clean and nice. We quickly dumped our bags then it was back in the car to be taken to the Periyar national park for a boat ride and some Tiger spotting.
"Well the only tigers we spotted were made of wood!"
After paying an inflated "foreigner" entry fee we drove to a parking area and were told to walk down to the boat jetty. This kind of gave away the fact there weren't any tigers! We arrived at the jetty and were told to exchange the entry tickets for boat tickets. Steve and Mansi did this for the group and after being given the run-around from one booth to the next and back again the look on his face told us "we weren't getting on no boat"
It was just a big con and Steve voiced this opinion loudly as they just laughed at us which only added insult to injury. In the end we just had to laugh that's invisible goats and tigers we have hunted for, What next!
We walked back to the car to find a bunch of monkeys terrorising vehicles. It was hilarious watching them spy a chance of an open window, smelling food they were in and it was a race as the drivers frantically closed the cars up.
This was particularly funny when Rod shouted "Monkey" to a bus driver who had fallen asleep. The sheer panic on his face as he raced up and down the bus securing the doors and shutting the windows, you've never seen anyone move so fast, we were in stitches and there wasn't a monkey in sight!
Back in the car we headed into the jungle for some elephant trekking.
Unlike other countries elephants are respected and worshipped in India and although it is still captivity and a tourist attraction it was a great place and all the elephants were really well looked after.
Kept in their natural habitat (or as much as possible) they had proper housing and weren't chained (except the male who had way too much testosterone!).There was a big pool where they were given a bath every day and a smaller pool where they were hosed down and given a drink after every trek.
The trek itself was amazing. Our elephant was called Laxshmi, she was a big, hefty lady about 32 years old. Unlike other treks we got to sit directly on her back so she didn't have to carry the extra uncomfortable metal seats that other places use. Our weight was enough.
We could feel all her muscles expanding and contracting as she plodded slowly through the jungle terrain stopping every now and again for a photo opportunity and a bit more history.
The handler didn't use a stick to control her just voice pattern and commands, it was just the best experience!
After some more petting and photos we headed back to town for a meal and a look around.
Thekkady itself was a great little place, Lots of shops selling everything imaginable, the people were really friendly and welcoming and it was a shame we could't have a day or two longer to explore fully. In the centre of town there is a huge Catholic Church with a magnificent 30ft sculpture in white polished stone definitely worth a look.
We had a wander, grabbed some bargains and watched Steve have a cut throat shave and head massage before we retired to our hotel for a much needed early night.