Thursday, January 11, 2007

All words for today!

Hi everyone. It's a photo-less blog for today as we're sans USB access to upload our photos. But we just wanted to drop in with a bit of an update.

We were mobile once again yesterday as the bandh was lifted locally and travel was possible. Little did we know we'd be travelling on the worst roads we've ever been on. The road from Munnar to Thekkady is about 80km (yes, we're getting used to the metric system, sort of; it's about 45-50 miles). But about 35km of that is composed of large rocks, foot-deep potholes, and sharp curves. That 35km takes about two hours to cover!

We finally made it to Thekkady thanks to our relentless driver Kabil, who, despite his preference for a sub-zero car interior and refusal to heed our semi-informed directions on occasion, is pretty much a saint. He brought us to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary / Tiger Reserve, where unfortunately, a tiger sighting is pretty rare. We did, however, spot a bunch of elephants, lots of monkeys, some wild boar and deer (yes, we know, you practically can't turn on your car in WNY without running over a deer -- not that exciting) and cormorants and herons. It was a nice trip and a pleasant boat ride through the lake, obnoxious teens blasting Hindi hits on their cellphone speakers notwithstanding. We also managed to pick up some locally-grown spices (a big part of Kerala's success).

Today we bid adieu to Club Mahindra and Munnar, goofy and fun as it was. Our route to Madurai included a truly awe-inspiring trip through the Western Ghats out of Kerala and into Tamil Nadu. It reminds of the American Southwest a bit, where there's just flat land for miles and then some truly majestic mountains right smack in front. The experience was not hurt one bit by the fact that the roads were actually manageable for more than 20 feet at a time. More monkeys were seen, including some really tiny ones holding tight to their mothers, and we had to halt a few times for some herds of goats.

Madurai on first impression is a bustling city, yet it feels far less overwhelming than Chennai -- certainly more breathable and finer-smelling. It's known for its temples, which we're going to check out in the next few days, and is close to tomorrow's day-trip in Rameshwaram, 20 miles away from Sri Lanka.

We also swapped hotels after about an hour and 200 rupees ($4-5). The Hotel Supreme ain't as Supreme as the otherwise super-reliable and informative Rough Guide to South India proclaims. We were so looking forward to its space-age night club, a pleasure we may yet indulge. The place we've moved to is new and clean and smells of fresh paint, which we can deal with, and it costs the same (roughly $30 a night).

Look for another entry with photos before we cast our fates to British Airways yet again. Until then, best to all of you and Happy Birthday to Matt! J&J.

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