After a breakfast completely different to what we ordered (which is getting more and more common) we caught richshaw with Maayen to a secret beach four miles north of Alleppey. It was completely stunning! Miles of unpolluted white golden sand. Both slightly burnt (slightly being the understatement of the century) after hours of swimming, frisby & sand castle construction! Spontaneous decision to visit Periyar tomorrow.
Early morning start (5AM) followed by a five hour rickety bus to a village to Kumily which is tucked away in the Western Ghatts. Tiger country. Refeshment bought en route were terrible. For future reference; Indians make a mean curry but have no idea about sweets. Rapidly sorted a nice cheap place to stay and planned a guide jungle trek. Our guide Balloo was excellent. Had lived in the jungle is entire life; he was 37 and looked like he should be doing his GCSEs (by the way, Indians don't age). We started off with Balloo battering his younger brother with a stick, who he was supposedly teaching jungle craft. Trekked for about 3 hours and saw giant squirrels, deer, a pair of mongoose, an array of birds and some huge 'prehistoric looking' hornbills. The trek included Balloo stripping off and climbing into a tiny little cave im search of porkypines, bears and God knows what. Saw a funeral procession from our balcony which included lots of drums, colour and dancing. Not a bad send off for a 98 year old villager. A good innings. In the evening headed to a keralian martial arts show. Very impressive - lots of sword fighting and fire. Had fantastic tandoori BBQ kebabs after deep fried chillies, all topped off by home made chocolate. Feast.
Early morning entry to Periyar wildlife reserve. Took a ferry ride across the man made lake in the reserve which had an endless amount of inlets. Absolutely breathtaking scenery with a total abundance of wildlife. Kingfishers. Ospreys. Snakebirds. An Otter. Turtles. A wild boar. And to top it off; two wild elephants. Once im a life time experience for £1.50. Headed back to Alleppey on the bus.
Stressful morning sorting out a house boat with the sisters from Anjuna. Finally got on board just before mid-day and were blown away by yhe luxury yacht we had just managed to get hold of - an absolute palace. £18 a head. Crusied around the backwaters, which are a beautiful amalgam of rivers and canals, all day and night. At ome point we all decided to go for a swim, afterwards being told that the water in full of crocodiles, sea-snakes and jellyfish. Nice one. Fresh tiger prawns and crab for dinner all dome by our on board chef. Enquired how much it is to have one of these houseboats built - £2500. Pondered the thought of buying one over a few bottles of kingfisher. 27/01 Returned to Alleppey in the morning. Said our goodbyes to Rhea and Meg. Paid 300 rupees for the slow ferry from Alleppey to Kolam. What a mistake. Roasted to death on a ferry full of screaming kids and awful fumes for eight hours. Met a nice kiwi girl; Rebecca, who chipped in with us to get a rickshaw to Varkarla. Scariest 24km of our lives. Tom was dizzy and seeing double by the evening. Maybe from swimming in the backwaters or carbon monoxide poisoning from the ferry. Suprisingly no sick or Dehli belly so far.
Spent the day im Varkarla - mostly just on the beach and in restaurants along the cliffs. Very strong currents here and really hot sun. Finally bought a ball and frisby, something we have been meaning to do since we arrived.
American breakfast. Lots of fried chicken basically. Jumped on the 10:30 train to Trivandrum and arrived within the hour. Spent the day at the Zoo, from where the author of the life of Pi took inspiration, and a very bad natural history museum. Left Trivandrum heading for Madras.Our first experience of AC 3 tier Impressed - street food was good too.