Friday, 22 January 2010

Up to the Hills of Periyar

India; October 20th; Day 29; Periyar

After breakfast with George he gets his driver to take us to the bus stop in Kottayam in his auto-rickshaw. We ask around and hop on the Kumily bus which is to take us away from the waterways and up into the hills. It’s a bumpy 4 hour ride and the road gradually rises. In the fields that we pass we first see rubber plantations, then coffee and then tea. The bus is busy but not too bad.

On arrival we cart our gear into the Tourist Office which actually has some information. Five minutes later we are in an auto-rickshaw to the Green View Hostel. The room is fine; we have hot water and we have a terrace. It;s a bit of a pity that there is a building site next door but never mind.

We wander back into the town to search out somewhere for lunch. Nothing looks interesting or even safe so we return to Chrissie’s which is just down the road from Green View and seems to be a refuge for travellers seeking normal, e.g. non-Indian, food. We have pasta.

In the afternoon we try to find some more information about the Periyar National Park which is just out of town. We can’t even find the office never mind the information. But after a while we do finally stumble upon it. No point though as it is next to useless. so we decide to walk into the park anyway and see what we can see. It about a 3 or 4km walk in which is not too bad and the woods are quite interesting. However when we get down to the park buildings and the lake we find that really nothing is going on. A couple of weeks ago they had an accident here where a boat on the lake sank with the loss of twenty odd lives. The park was closed for a while and now it’s re-opened. Nothing is happening however. No boat trips, no hikes and certainly no three day Tiger Trek which is what we were hoping to do. It’s all a bit disappointing.

We go in the park hotel for a cup of tea and watch the monkeys clambering about the place. Surprisingly quite a few Indian tourists are about but all they seem to want to do is get off the bus, look at the view and get back on the bus. Their is nothing to do here! We take a rickshaw back to town.

In the evening we have dinner at the Green View which is a major disappointment. We sit in a windowless dingy room and have boiled rice with boiled vegetables. We are too listless to do anything in the evening except to go for a desultory walk and confirm to ourselves that not a lot can be done in this town. You can buy spices if you want. The only sign of life is the effort the spice shops make to sell you some cardamon or something.

On the terrace we drink beer and look for football on the TV.