Dear blogreaders, we are back!
Since we last wrote we have been to the very appealing town of Coimbatore (only joking) as a stopover before heading to Ooty in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. The bus ride was suprisingly pleasant as you get to see so much more than if you were on a train or a plane. One very ineresting sight was that of a snake climbing up a telephone pole surrounded (at a distance) by lots of people looking quite frightened and chattering loudly into mobile phones & radios. We also saw a festival which (from what we could make out anyway) involved people being drenched in water carrying pots of flowers on their heads and a man with a huge headress with wires hooked into his skin (well thats what it looked like anyway). No time for sleeping as its just all too exciting.
Ooty (formerly nicknamed Snooty Ooty) was a British hill station and is surrounded by tea plantations and lots of Eucalyptus trees, so much so that they bottle Eucalyptus oil there! However it is now a very busy, dirty and noisy town, full of domestic tourists from the really hot parts of India dressed in balaclavas and very thick jumpers and gloves, I suppose 20 degrees C could be seen as cold if you have come from somewhere that is 45 degrees, but it does make us smile. We missed the Ooty Gold Cup horse race by about 2 hours so instead we went to the world famous (its almost a 'wonder of the world') thread garden of Ooty. Now if by some small chance you have never heard of it, well..... it is a small garden made from thread or to be more precise thread wrapped around little pieces of canvas to make petals of flowers or blades of grass. The whole experience is fascinating as it is such intricate work that you need to get quite close to see the details, a fact which isn't helped by the 4 ft gap between the fence and the actual garden. I think I have spent more time writing about it than actually being there. Pictures will be loaded sometime in the future.
So after 2 uninteresting days in Ooty (oh - Paul went on the go-karts at the fun fair!) we headed off to Jungle Retreat which is about one and a half hours down the hillside into Madumulai national park. And what a wonderful place, we stayed in a bamboo hut with an outside bathroom looking out across the Nilgiri hills in the middle of nature. Not that we were roughing it or anything, there is also a spectacular pool here as well (btw if any words have 't' missing its because his bloody keyboard has a stuck t). The first day we relaxed and walked around the 35 acre property & saw deer, mongoose, hare and a few people. Yesterday we went for a 3 hour flat trek (started at 5.30am!) across the grass & woodland, saw w*** all but it was some exercise so I guess it wasn't all bad. In the afternoon we went on a jeep safari to Bandipur National Park and we saw bison, sambar deer, spotted deer, wild elephant, wild boar, slightly annoyed monkeys and really quite peeved peacocks. We were out for about 5 hours so we got some qualiy spotting time in but alas no tiger or leopard, which is odd because 2 days before they saw tiger right by the road, and there were 2 leopards sleeping just over there, yeah yeah yeah :-) The food was excellent and the staff were all very friendly and we were quite sad to leave. The staff took us to the busstop this morning and after about 5 hours we arrived in Calicut. We are heading to Cochin tomorrow morning and trying very hard to get there before the monsoon does (its due in about a week!).
And tonight (about an hour ago) we ate a specacular Keralan meal and we are both quite stuffed, Paul had crab in a curry sauce and I had the Keralan version of KFC (which was delicious). If you ever find yourselves in Calicut go to the Paragon restaurant - marvellous!
Well thats our story for the past few days, keep reading and come back in a couple of days for an update. Until then ........
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