Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Into Tamil Nadu

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India; October 24th; Day 33; Mettupalayam

Yesterday we had managed to figure out how to get to the Nilgiri Mountain Railway which runs from Mettupalayam to Ooty. We were aiming for Coonoor which is the stop before Ooty. It would take us two days.

We learnt that a bus left for Coimbatore at 6.30am from the end of street so we got up early and waited. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to figure out where a bus is going. The front sign is normally in Hindi or Malayam (around here) and the English is invariably on the side of the bus only. We waved down a couple of buses first and then waited some more. The locals who were opening up their stalls assured us we were in the right place. Our bus did arrive and we were treated to a five minute ride into the new ton where it stopped and waited for half an hour! Time enough to get a cup of tea.

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The six hour ride passed by quite quickly helped by intermittent dozing. The first four hours or so was quite picturesque as we again passed through tea country. More Poinsettias and flowering red   Tulip Trees. The last two hours were spent driving along a main highway along a dry dusty valley with cactus and strange trees.

At Coimbatore we had to find another bus to Mettupalayam. This took some effort to figure but eventually we were assured that if we jumped on this local cross-town bus it would take us to the correct bus station. It did. We had a short cramped and dizzy run through the towm. at the other end we locate the bus we need and an hour later we arrive in Mettupalayam. Outside the bus station we stagger across the street and find a place to stay. It’s a bit decrepit but the rooms are large and we have a TV. I’m convinced that we can watch Man Urd against Liverpool tonight but it turns out that that is tomorrow. We watch Spurs instead.

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For lunch we find ourselves a place to eat which looks very much like a fast food place. Amazingly many of the dishes are served on a banana leaf and eaten with the fingers. We get something else and eat with a knife and fork. It’s not bad.

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We do get ourselves outside and walk down to the Railway Station. This is a terminus for the mainline but also the starting point for the mountain railway. We manage to buy Reserve Tickets for 240 rupees for the two of us. The train leaves at 7.30 but we are advised to be there at 6. Its a bit confusing as I think these tickets merely allow us to queue up for the real tickets.

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In the evening we wander around a bit. We are not so hungry so when we find that the local grocery store makes and sells pizzas we decide to sit down and stay. The pizza is about as big as a tea saucer. the fresh fruit drinks are good though.  The local wine shop (which is what the off-license is called even though they don’t sell wine) is just around the corner from the hotel. We get some beers and watch TV.