Munnar, Kumily and Kollam
18.04.2007 - 23.04.2007 36 °C
We left the heat of Kochi for the cool of Munnar in Western Ghats, about 160km inland.
The drive in was excellent. It was the first time I'd used public buses and I decided I like it. The buses themselves have monster trucks style wheels and no windows, so the cool air filters through the smell of sweat from the seemingly endless number of people that manage to fit on.
The area surrounding Munnar is covered with tea plantations as far as you can see. Me and Paul headed up a dirty track road to Top Station and view was immense. From there you can see into the next state, Tamil Nadu and across the Western Ghats mountain range all covered with Tea trees.
Me at the top, Top Station
Temple Festival, Kumily
After catching another monster truck south to Kumily to see the famous wildlife park we randomly ran into the local temple festival. The streets were filled with decorate people, some holding pot plants on their heads, some with 3ft spikes though their cheeks while holding a large wooden pyramid above their heads. The whole festival was mad, everyone acting as if they were on LSD. I loved it, such a happy atmosphere, all the locals joining in with the songs and encouraging the tourists to get involved.
A badly shot video of the festival, Kumily
The next day we got up and headed for the wildlife park. When we got there it was busy with Indian tourists and we were told to walk 3km to the boat jetty for the safari, or at least that what we thought. It was half way down and after many cars of Indian tourists had passed shouting and cheering before we noticed why, a sign in front of us saying 'Tiger Land - No horn', we bricked it and flagged down the next car. After our near suicide we didn’t see much more than a warthog!
Kollam, on the coast 100 clicks south of Kumily is popular for its backwaters, a strange set of islands linked by natural canals. Our guide for the day was Sámi, a 27 year old part time teacher who showed us the locals way of life. The locals live much like they have for hundreds of years using every part of the natural resources to build ships, make oil from coconuts and rope from their shells.
Sami and our 'pusher', Kollam
Sámi was a bit of a legend and often burst out into random song joined by our boat driver, i say driver i mean 'pusher' like the ones you see in Venice. As myself and Paul took as many pictures as we could Sámi wrote a lesson plan under the cover of an umbrella and began to tell us a story of a battle fought between the local communist factions. During one raid the opposition had stapled a guy to a tree with an arrow and cut off his hand! It was easy to see why people fought over this land, it was something out of a story book.
Coconuts drying, Kollam
The next installment will come from Varkala were we're hoping to chill out, get involved with the beach life and get a room with a TV for the Champions League matches!