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Best of Southern India – Part 1

Well firstly let me start off by apologising…its been a while since my last blog….I have been tearing around Kerala and Karnataka and not had wifi in most places! Since I last blogged quite a lot has happened, I will try to do it justice with a few words and pics!

Thursday 6th

Up early again and off to Delhi Airport for 6am flight to Kochi. Flight was uneventful, which is always a good thing! Jumped in a taxi and drove to my hotel for a few rest days prior to the start of the 2 week tour in South India. Spent the rest of the day chilling and watching old films.
Friday 7th & Saturday 8th
Total relaxation days, involving sleeping, reading, watching films and eating curry!

Sunday 9th
Checked out of hotel and headed over to the Fort Area of Kochi to join the Gadventures group tour. Checked into the hotel and decided to treat myself to a massage!! A lovely lady came and collected me and took me to the massage parlour. Decided to indulge in a 40 minute relaxation massage and a 30 minute Nasyam treatment which is for clearing sinuses and colds. Now, it all sounds lovely but let me just say this…..I happen to have had a traditional ayervedic massage in India before which sounded amazing but in real life involved me sitting on a chair whilst an old and somewhat grumpy indian lady poured oil on my head and then proceeded to slap me around! Not relaxing in the slightest!

So this relaxation massage went along the same lines….I was so covered in oil and being pummelled with such gusto that I felt like a steak being tenderised!! What made it funnier was the masseuse constantly asking if I was relaxed!

The sinus treatment was a totally different barrel of laughs! I basically had oil dropped into my sinuses and then my face avidly massaged! Sounds ok I know, t wait…the oil was a special one containing pepper and chilli! After about a minute the oil was making its presence known at the back of my throat! At this point I had the 2 therapists asking if I could now breathe better, I would have liked to have been able to but speaking whilst coughing and dealing with streaming eyes is not easy!
I then was briefly massaged again before being told to hack up all the phlegm in my chest and spit it out in a plastic box! I was to keep doing this for 10 minutes! After which I was free to go supposedly more relaxed and with cleaner sinuses!!

Later that evening the group met up for the first time, we are 9. There is a couple from Canada called Bonny & Ted, Robin and american lady who lives in Tel Aviv, Shiv a guy from New Zealand, 2 college friends from Canada called Indira and Bronty, Pam an american lady and Zoe a girl from Devon. We went for an orientation walk around Fort Cochin and then had a meal followed by some drinks in a bar!

Monday 10th

We were up and out by 9am, walked around Fort Cochin visiting Vasco De Gama square, St Francis Church. We then got tuktuks over to the Matancharry area of Kochi and visited the Dutch Palace and Jewish Synagogue before having a lovely drink in a cafe on the waterfront.

We then split up and did our own thing in the afternoon, so Robin and I jumped in a tuktuk and went to a famous restaurant called Dal Roti for some lunch. We had a paneer kati roll and a coke. I then returned to the hotel and had a nap for a few hours before meeting up with the group again to go to a Kathakali show (yes another one!) it was about as bizarre as before! After that we all went out for an evening meal and a few of us went to a bar for some drinks.

Tuesday 11th
Up early Tuesday as we had a train from Kochi to Calcut at 9.10am. The train journey was rather uneventful in comparison to my previous one. We had seats in an air-conditioned carriage so I spent the time writing my blog and listening to music. 4 hours later we pulled into Calicut and met a minibus. We then drove to our homestay in Wayanad. We arrived early evening, so freshened up and had something to eat at the homestay. Sathish the guide, myself and a few others sat around playing UNO followed by various different card games until 3am.

Wednesday 12th
Up early and took a quick drive through beautiful countryside to the Edakkal Caves, we had to walk up a steep mountain and then climb hundreds of steps to get there! That part wasnt fun, but the views and the caves were spectacular. We then drove to a beautiful village to see the construction of a sustainable community before witnessing a new-born calf tottering around.

We then went to a sustainable plantation and tribal village. We trekked through a forest full of banana trees, pepper vines and spices before having a walk through a rice paddy. Easier than it sounds…..our guide had literally just said be careful all the ditches are full of water so walk on the narrow walkway, when I placed my foot on what I thought was solid ground but was actually a really muddy, smelly and wet ditch! Hilarity ensued as I had a sopping wet and squelchy trainer…what made it better was that Santhish the guide did the same thing 30 seconds later.
So me and my squelchy trainer walked the rest of the way to the tribal village and met with Ramen an 87-year-old tribal elder who then demonstrated his hunting technique.
After that we returned to the homestay to change and went out for a meal in the village before staying up til 1.30am playing cards again!

Thursday 13th
We left Wayanad and headed to the Mudamalai National Reserve, on route we stopped off at a peaceful and beautiful tea plantation. We arrived at our resort after lunch, we checked in and then sat in the restaurant playing cards until 4pm when we went on our jeep safari. Ted, Bonny, Pam, Robin and I jumped in our rickety old jeep and headed off into the park. We spent hours spotting spotted deer, samba deer, peacocks, warthogs, buffalo and elephants. once dark we headed off in search of elephants and big cats. The drivers were tearing around in pitch black with no headlights on giving each other tips as to what has been seen and where! We found a herd of elephants, so the drivers were manoeuvring round to shine headlights on them. All of a sudden an angry elephant came charging out of the bushes and chased us down the road! Bonny and Robin were screaming, the driver just sat there not moving and being at the back of the jeep meant I was watching the whites of the elephants eyes getting nearer!
In the end we left the elephants in peace and found a leopard. Again the driver manoeuvred the jeep so we could shine the headlights on the leopard. This was all very well but meant we reversed into a bush and I had to watch the back of the jeep incase an elephant, tiger or leopard stalked us from behind!
We returned to the resort unscathed and had dinner before disco-ing the night away. Once most of the group had gone to bed myself, Sathish, Zoe and Shiv all sat round a bonfire until 2am. At which point a dog started barking next door (which means there is a wild animal outside) and there was a rustle in the bushes, so Santhish went to investigate but found only a domestic cat! Lucky! Last month an elephant broke in and broke the pool!

Friday 14th
We left the resort and drove through the Mudamalai park to Mysore. We arrived in Mysore at lunchtime, had a quick freshen up and then went out to see the Mysore Palace, it is a beautiful place unfortunately I cannot show any photos of the inside as no photos allowed but got a few from outside. We then went to a temple dedicated to Durga before climbing up to see one of the largest bull statues in the world.
In the evening it was the standard affair of dinner and then cards in Sathish’s room with obviously Sathish, Zoe, Robin, Shiv and myself.

Saturday 15th
We popped for a quick walk around the largest market in asia which sells flowers, fruits and vegetables (oh and also powder paint for Holi). Then we had some free time before having to catch train to Chennai. Sathish and I went for brunch and then a walk round the shops with Shiv whilst he bought loads of pashminas, scarves and saris for his family.   At 1.30pm we jumped in tuktuks and whizzed down to the station for the 2.16pm train to Chennai. 7 hours!!! Yawn!
Got good seats in an air-conditioned carriage with a table so most of us proceeded to play UNO followed by cards and then ‘who am I?’ The indians on the carriage were highly entertained by our antics and a few joined in with the cards.  Had plenty of food and drink provided on the train by ‘meals on wheels’, no relation to ours.  We arrived at Chennai train station at 9.30pm and then had a 90 min journey to the hotel.

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