A "pure for sure" time at Periyar
12.05.2007 19 °C
"Pure for sure" with a picture of the "okay" sign is seen all over India at gas stations. It's become a catch-phrase/motto for us!
A Bamboo Raft waits to take us across for a morning hike in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Today (the last day in Cochin) we slept in really late. Then we went to look around Kochi for a bit before having lunch at Kashi Art Cafe. Which was a declious meal of Bean soup, cold pasta salad and garlic toast. Wed decidad to have chocolte cake for dessert, which was very yummy. Then after a quick trip to the playground, we decided to go home to rest! So we got our math, spelling, diary done before I played the Amazing tuck tuck! [Rob's editorial note - this is what Anica means by "rest"] Then we went to Dal roti for some of the decilous chicken and nan (lick)! Also the man there drew me a picture of him! Then we went back to our hotel and cause I got water on my p.j. top I slept half barnaked! g.n.
By Ambassador cab today, we made the (as it turned out) six hour drive to Kumily, on the edge of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, where our next accomodation was arranged. The distance is less than 200 kilometres, but we averaged 30 km an hour on the twisty, poorly-paved roads that wind up the Cardamon Hills to almost 1400 metres above sea level. We stopped once because we were over-heated and once because the car was over-heated. The latter part of the drive was spectacular: one of the three greatest drives we've had so far on this trip (the other two in mind being the drive from Bangkok to Siem Reap, and our first overland trip across Rajasthan). In the final two hours, the ascent became more noticeable, and we were treated to views across great valleys. Then the hills became greener, and more distinct in their crop: tea plants quilted the hillside, replacing the rubber trees, with their plastic-bag-and-cup appartus, which dominated the earlier part of the drive.
Arriving at Chrissie's, we were thrilled with this budget-to-midrange "homestay." Our room runs us $46 a night, and it's on a quiet street, with a view of the treetops and the mountains on the horizon. The rooms are in a building set back from the street, with the lobby and restaurant (veg. only and very good) in the front building. You walk up cooblestone steps to where the rooms are. And then keep walking! We're actually on the third floor (which is the fourth floor, really, right North Americans?), and no elevator. The hallway is outside, and the trees on one side of the building practically brush against us as we open our room's door. On the other is our generous balcony, rounded for better view, with two rattan chairs and table/ottomans to match. It's a new, spotlessly clean hotel. Perhaps the only catch is that there's no heating or ac or even fan. They're relying, I suppose, on the near-perfect weather at this elevation. All year it's between 15-30 celsius in the day, and cooler at night. Our first night was fine, except for the dog who barked all night long. Sorry, I'm exaggerating: he must have dozed off between 2:30 AM and 3:00 AM.
Today we got in a very long car drive to chrissie's (the view was great). when we arived we got checked in and looked around . theres an eco tourism ofice just down a stret so we asked them a couple quistions. Then we walked down to gt some kukures and lays! Then went home rested had dinner. Good night!
Today we got up at 5:30! I said "I don't want to get up (yawn). "But you have to!" "Okay!" So we had a yummy breakfast of horliks crackers and pinaple jucie. then we walked down the stairs and went outside and found a tuktuk and said how much to Peryair? 40. Chrissie had told us that 40 was a good price so we said okay. The tuk-tuk ride to Periyar was amazing! The tuk-tuk felt really breezy to! When we arived at Periyar, me and Mommy stayed in the tuk-tuk whell Daddy got tickets (which took a bit of time). t
Then we took the tuk-tuk inside Periyar! When we got to the boat landing which we asked the tuk-tuk to go to, we got some hike tickets. Meanwhile I'm running around with my pirate scarf on like maniac! Then this guy came over and said I will take you to meet your guide. "Okay." So we walked over to meet our guide. Meanwhile Mommy was talking to this girl about traveling and Daddy the same but with a boy. then I said Mommy I have to go the washroom. "HMPH!" So I told her "there might not be one anywhere else to go. "Oh!" So we went behind a tree Then we had to put these boot things on. Then this bamboo raft came over to bring us to the forest. So we got to balance! "Yay!" Mom: "boo." Then we got to the forest and the first thing we saw was tadpoles! Then we saw some tiger paw prints. Then we saw a giant squirrel, a spider, 1 wasp nest and 11 honeycomb nests. Then we did a lot more walking before going back to the bamboo raft. Unlukly all of us had at lease two leaches in our shoes (there not big!)
So we got a tuk-tuk back, had lunch, got a tuk-tuk back to Periyar and entered. Then we got to the boat dock and got tickets on the lowwer deck. then well Daddy was getting the tickets this monkey jumped up on the women. Then we got on the boat and took off. Then well we were on the boat we saw deer, bison, and lots more! Then we got a tuk-tuk back and had dinner. Good night.
Our "day in the park" today, which Anica covered well in her diary! Although we didn't see any of the "big game," on our morning hike (7-10), we saw the evidence: the tracks and the poo-poo (that's the scientific term for what's commonly called scatology). The smaller animal I found most fascinating was a frog that looked like it was wearing a leaf on its back as a stylish cape. But it wasn't a leaf; it was its camoflauge. We also saw huge termite mounds with tunnels carved into by monitor lizards, honeycombs high in bare treetops and honeycombs fallen and draped over bushes like discarded towels, and some really huge spiders. "Is it poisonous," I asked our guide of one spider. "Probably," he said with practiced indifference. I took that as a yes.
Today we got up and had a yummy breakfast of chocolate crepe with hot chocolate for me, toast with butter and jam for Mommy, and toast with butter and honey for Daddy. Then we went downstairs and asked Chrissie and Adel "How can we get to the spice plantaion?" "By jeep, tuk-tuk or van." "Okay, can you arrange a Jeep to come and get us?" "Yes." "Thank you." "Your welcome" "When will it be here?" "In ten minutes." "Okay." Then we walked upstairs, got ready, went to the washroom, and walked downstairs to the reciption desk and said is it here? No. So we waited for them to come. When they arivved we got in and went to the spice plantian! When we arived we met the tour guide and our group. the names were Anica, Rob, and Jenn (ha ha). We tasted and smelled every different spice you could think of! Then he took us to the viewpoint and saw really far away! Then we drove home, rested, had dinner. Good night!
Effortlessly, Chrissie (as in Chrissie's Homestay) arranged a Jeep and driver to take us to a spice farm this morning. The drive was about 20 minutes more of going even higher in elevation than we were already at. We were the only ones there (and it was a beautiful day, too!) and the owner of the farm took us around the field. Every step seemingly brought us to another plant. He would pluck its leaf, flower or fruit, explain what it was and then brusquely, but gently, command us to eat it or smell it or rub it on ourselves. And we went along with all of it, even Anica! It was great: Anica did her nails by rubbing tumeric, we ate mint leaf, cinnamon bark, allspice, pepper. There was aloe vera, lemongrass, and dozens more. A couple helped with asthma, but I was doing fine today. Another they used to make "hair oil," which is pronounced "heroin" by this farmer. That made Jenn and I exchange glances of "did you hear that too?" We knew it was illegal to cut down sandalwood in Kerala, but perhaps heroin was okay.
Then I had a cup of their coffee (meaning from their own coffee plants) and our driver walked us up the road to the promised "view point." This was such a beautiful vista, and again we were the only ones there. The whole town isn't even on the one road map of India we do have.
The view looked out over the state of Tamil Nadu from the border with Kerala. There is a vast valley, a mile below us, almost like a plain, except that there's another mountain range visible on the other side. In fact, the valley is nestled in a horseshoe of mountains and at the closed end is a waterfall that falls most of that height in a thin stream. It seems to take several seconds for the water to reach the bottom. Beautiful!
What a view, high over Tamil Nadu!
Jenn's nursing a cold, so she had a quiet morning while Anica and I went on safari! Well, not safari, but we did ride an elephant through the jungle, heavily guided. I was pleased to see Anica not the least bit afraid of climbing on the elephant. She's been on an elephant before, and a camel, and her confidence has grown. We rode together on one elephant, saddle-style, not chairs, and the handlers were on the ground, not on the elephant with us. So it was different from Thailand. We also got to feed and pet the baby elephant, Carmen. During the ride, the handler took pictures with Anica's camera, so eventually we'll have those to post and share.
We've had every meal at Chrissie's, mostly because there's few desirable options. Also because the food is good. That's means vegetarian, no alcohol, and (oddly enough) mainly Italian food for five days. Sometimes we bring our novels, diaries and Anica's schoolbooks and stay at the table for two or three hours. The owners, Adel and Chrissie, are genuinely welcoming, and really seem to enjoy just chatting with their guests. Arranging the little outings we've done has been absurdly easy. And we've enjoyed our balcony view!
Latest reminder we're in India: live amplified temple music performed until one in the morning last night that echoed across the whole valley.
Today we got up and had brekfast. Then me and Daddy got in a tuk-tuk to the elaphant juction. When we got there and feed the baby elaphant named Carmen. (We feed him with palm leaves). Then we took a movie of me feeding Carmen. Then we took pictures of his mother and father and me sitting on this giant bamboo bench. Then we walked over to the ride place and bought tickets for this half-hour ride on an elephant, when our elaphant came we got in it and asked for its name and age. "Maria," that is her name...."Age?" "25." And that's her age . After our ride we took a little walk back to say goodbye to Carmen and went home, rested, had dinner, good night. (we also met this really nice family from Israel and had dinner with them and ran around outside. They had two girls, Lea (same age almost) and Ona, younger