Monday, January 19, 2009

Emerald hills...Kerala

Just arrived in Kumili from Munnar. We (Bigs, Aggy and I) did a 2 day tour from Cochi to Munnar that took us by car to an elephant sanctuary (really sad :( ), then up through the rolling jungle hills to Munnar which is a gorgeous valley full of tea plantations. We met a lovely English couple (Lee and Mike) that were on the tour with us and they kept us thoroughly entertained their travel stories, of which they had many!! The guest house we stayed in was on a side of a mountain overlooking a massive valley. It was absolutely breathtaking and we felt very fortunate to have been able to be there. After tucking into a delicious Keralan thali (this food here is the BEST!!) we went up to the town which was this electric hub of activity. Kerala has a very interesting history...aside from it being a Catholic state it was also communist and has a 99% literacy rate. The area is quite rich and we have seen almost no poverty, as compared to everywhere else. When we arrived in Munnar, there was a Communist rally happening next to the massive church. Everyone was getting very excited and wound up! We went up to the KDHC tea plantation to see how tea is made and cultivated. very interesting and we had a lovely cuppa afterwards. Yummm. I'm getting quite addicted to the chai here..more so now than ever before! After the museum we spent some time wandering in Munnar and I went to a Hindu temple overlooking the town to pay my respects. I'm feeling a temple hungry as I haven't actually seen too many here (loads and loads of massive churches) so whenever I see one I tend to visit asap. Caught a really remarkable sunset coming down from Munnar (the roads here are FREAKY!! Twisty turny single lane roads that a bus, car, and tuktuk all take at once. We actually saw a car that went off the road onto the edge of a they were saying their Hail Mary's as fast as they could...they were super lucky to get out alive!) and went back home to another gorgeous meal. Stayed up talking for quite a while with Lee and Mike, and Lee came to my rescue when I discovered a very UNWELCOME guest in my treehouse...the biggest spider I have ever seen. Lee bravely took the spider outside and set it free (after I trapped it under a bucket...and screamed while soing so as I could feel it scuttling around the inside...eeeewww).
I had a fairly rough sleep though as the dogs in the hills were howling all night, and then at 4:30am the mosque at the bottom of the valley started the call to prayer followed by a Hindu temple chanting for ages. But when I finally did get out of bed, I had a HOT WATER SHOWER (fisrt one since I left home!) which was blissful. I felt totally human and pranced into the dining room for breakfast! After breakfast we went up to see a waterfall and then to a dam where we all dove onto homemade chocolates and marshmallows. Our driver then took us to this beautiful lake (reminded me so much of home) where an Indian family took pics of me (??!) with thier kids. I've been having my picture taken quite a bit here, I guess I'm as much as a novelty to the peole here as they are to me. It's funny though as I'll get in with whole families! We then went up to this incredible viewpoint where we could see into the next next state - Tamil Nadu. It was breath taking, and I am so glad that I took this tour as I would have missed out on some of the best scenery I have ever laid my eyes upon. After having yet again another gorgeous thali, Aggy, Sarah, and I headed off in a taxi to Kumili where we will stay for 2 nights before I split up with them and head to Neyyar Dam for the Sivanada Yoga Ashram. The trip here was really lovely along very windy, and we almost got annilated a few times by buses whipping around th ecorner. The driver thought it was quite funny when we all squealed and gripped each other...but I didn't think it was that funny! We landed at a gorgeous guesthouse where we watched a massive colony of fruit bats (HUGE animals..big as birds!!) leave the Periyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and head for the farms to start their evening meal. It was a really cool sigh to behold.
We're off to see elephants and stuff tomorrow at the Sanctuary...and may engage in a Keralan cooking class tomorrow night. Getting quite sad to leave Biggie on Wednesday- we've had so much fun travelling together! But she's on another mission to Varkala with Aggy so that will be relaxing for her before she heads into the jungles of Borneo to work with the oranguatans. Gonna go grab some food no wthat the power is back on (the state turns power off for 1/2 hr every night to conserve electricty!) Miss you at home....pls send me updates! xoxox


robert said...

ashley, these entries are like prescription medicine for a cold, damp soul. it's so generous of you to share this way. you're really opening my eyes to a place i haven't been before. i feel like i'm traveling along with you, especially with all the great photos. this journey stands to open you significantly...your intrepid nature assures this. carry on, robert

john antony said...

Hi Ashely my name is john, i am from kerala. I read ur blog about kerala , its nice. If u want to know more about Kerala , pls check the wikipedia (about kerala).U may be thinking as keralite why i can't write it. Its because it takes lot to write. May be i can tell u one thing.UNICEF and World Health Organisation designated Kerala as the WORLD's FIRST baby friendly state. See u may be thinking i am boasting , but its true. I also want to say one more thing , kerala has another face, it has most un employed people in INDIA , any way u will find full details in WIKIPEDIA(kerala). any i hope u have found ur shanti. Please mail me after reading WIKIPEDIA about kerala to my mail