Saturday, January 8, 2011

Periyar / Kumily Jan 7

A friendly policeman helps to carry Wendy 

Ready to leave Kodai
When we arrived at the house where we were staying, the road was blocked - actually, it's not a road, it was a narrow track and easily blocked! - by a police car.  He moved but I still had to get from the bike to the house and he rushed forward to help - he and Richard made a chair for me and got me all the way up the steps to our little place.

After five nights, we decided to go down the mountain to the Periyar Game Reserve which was next on our list.  Richard packed everything up and loaded our bags on the bike - while yours truly sat and watched.

Down the Ghats from Kodai

Big family of monkeys on the road

Coffee (& bum!) break
I found the ride up the ghats to Kodai very unnerving in places where the road was very rough and the traffic heavy since it was the holiday time but going down there was much less traffic and it was quite spectacular and went fine.
Kumily / Periyar luxury at $13/night

We stopped along with many others to have a coffee at the waterfall.  The rest of the way to the plain was uneventful but the last part of the trip to Periyar took us up a steep, narrow winding road that easily competed with the Kodai climb.  We got behind a truck and didn't want to pass since there were so many curves but cars and bikes came up behind us and passed anyway.  And, for some reason we couldn't understand at first, nothing seemed to be coming the other way and the road ahead was in fact clear.  Then we found out why.
We suddenly turned a corner and saw a long line up of cars and trucks as far ahead as we could see.  Since nothing was coming down, the right side of the road, narrow though it was, had a passage wide enough for bikes, so we carried on up on the 'wrong side' till we encountered the reason for the hold-up.  A bus had hit a truck and its windscreen was shattered.  Richard pulled over further to the side and tried to park the bike but there was such a  slope at the edge on the downside that the bike began to lurch over.  I screamed of course and that drew a flock of men to our aid.  They righted the bike without any difficulty, lifted me off and then basically carried me to the wall opposite and sat me there for the duration while we waited for the bus to get out of the way and the road open.  Policemen were there to help organize and they controlled some of the movement and it wasn't long before we were on our way again.  The line-up on the other side went for miles it seemed and there was a stream of vehicles most of the way down this narrow hairpin curved road.
We were very glad to find a delightful place to stay with a  comfortable bed, great shower, and very helpful owners.  It was newly built and spotlessly clean.  The young man there rushed out to help as soon as we showed up - put out a piece of wood to balance the bike and helped me get off.

The first evening, we went to two cultural events at a small hall in town.  The first was martial arts along with an athletic display of armed combat using swords, shields, poles, and sticks.
Indian Kalari (Martial Arts)

Kathakali theatre

The second was both informative and fascinating.  We had thought the Kathakali song and dance might be hard to watch for long but the program began with a clear demonstration and explanation of the facial and hand movements that would be used to tell the story and then we saw the performance by two people whose control of their facial muscles and eyes was quite astonishing.  A third person did the singing and since we had been told the story and were more or less able to read the gestures, we enjoyed it thoroughly.  Have to admit, however, that when we were told that the whole narrative would take four hours, we doubted we'd manage that.  An hour was great.
Early morning boat ride in the Periyar Tiger Park

No game, but we did see these birds nesting

We got up a little before six and rode out to the entrance to the game park to take one of the  game-watching safari boats along with a few hundred others.  It was very pleasant to be out on the water at that time of day - quiet - the boats all separated and we were happily adrift, all eyes peeled and staring, some with binoculars, hoping to glimpse an elephant or wild boar or herd of deer or a monkey or two..but the shore and hills surrounding the lake are tree-covered, quite densely, and the only fauna we saw were the brown shapes of some deer behind some trees, and the only birds were these nesting cormorants ... or their Indian counterparts.

This monkey in the entrance area was working the water fountain - he was busy pressing the handle and drinking his fill. 

Recent photo

My foot is proving very slow to improve - despite the daily iodine and other potions applied dutifully but without much enthusiasm! 

By the way, if anyone needs a nurse, Richard is a natural!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Wendy and Richard. Oh, the days are so long when we do not have an RSS from you two! The adventures keep happening, don't they? I can imagine you screaming, Wendy, and the hurry/scurry of the helpful folk to save you from tumbling over the slope - yikes! Here in the southern portion of Vancouver's Island we live in a town, in a built-up area strung along a coastal plain of some 70 miles. Mountains there are to the west of us and, across a large body of water, there are more mountains on what they call the mainland. Travel here is fast and efficient as long as we do not get too much rain, which comes often from the N.E. pacific ocean. There is a rail line close by and we have two trains per day, a passenger train taking fifty passengers and a freight train with no more than six cars upon it. Shopping for food is quite simple: there are stores nearby owned by magnates living in Halifax some 4,000 miles away. They serve us well. Wildlife abounds even in town: we regularly see glaucous winged gulls, racoons, feral cats, almost feral dogs, woodland deer and crows. These days we are travelling by motor car, but not too far at a time as petrol is dear. Our one weekly extravagant travel is to a mountain some two hours away here we ski in over 500 cms. of snow, the most, they say, of any ski hill in the world, at this time. Tonight we will attend the annual ball of our local chapter of the world-wide Scottish Country Dancing Society. We will dress as Scots. Perhaps you know this tradition and you may find it upheld somewhere in that vast, previously-colonial sub-continent of yours. If you both wore kilts, or variations thereof, you would be assured air conditioning for all your bike travels. Tongue in cheek aside, we very much appreciate your travel stories and descriptions. Much love, K & E