Wallowing in Wyanad!
Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
17Trip End Feb 16, 2012
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The journey was tiring 3.45 hour train followed by 4.5 hour car ride! Lovely drive over a mountain pass into the lovely Wyanad district of North East Kerala – it is an area of forests, miles and miles of coconut groves, hills, lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and rich in coffee, , cinnamon, cardamom and sandalwood, fruit and vegetables.
We arrive at Blooms to the sound of many birds and the stream. Nothing else. It is blissfully natural here. Our honeymoon cottage on stilts is a little disappointiing , very basic with hard beds (very common in India!) , but clean. The verandah overlooks the stream however and the bamboo and trees and for the first time since being in India we experience complete stillness and nature
Awakening at 4.30 to go to Muthtanga gate for a jeep drive around the Wyanad Wildlife Sanctuary was not easy! But we did, our host determined that we should leave by 5 to ensure we get the first jeep into the park at 7. Well, the journey was 45 minutes and then we waited, and waited – the ticket office was on Indian time , not opening at 6 as we were told but at 7! The watchman and our driver light a fire on the road side and we sit with them and watch the day break – another lovely moment in India! By the time the office opens there are many people trying to push to the front of the queue , but our driver and fire companion watchman ensure we get the first jeep in. We have been chatting to a young Czech couple who got the bus here from nearby Sultan Battery and they ask if they can share a jeep – we readily agree, and discover that she now lives and works the summers in Woolacombe and travels the rest of the year after visiting home
The Jeep driver drives far too quickly scaring any wildlife away I think! We see many small herds of spotted deer, some stags too. Two Buffalo and a peacock. The road is the worst dirt road I have ever travelled on and thats saying something after South Africa. Because the jeep is travelling too quickly its painful! The drive round the park is over in an hour and they rush the next lot in! We feel a little cheated and cheer ourselves up with talk of the fresh air the rising sun and the deer!
We drive to Sultan Battery for breakfast with our driver – we have toast and coffee , he has puris with masala and chai and we go to visit the local Jain Temple, the oldest in Kerlala , built in the 1500's and beautiful in its simplicity. A caretaker explains the fundamentals of Jainism and the building to us , its lovely to see how many young people visit these sites in India. He tells us that there is a group of Jains who do not wear any cloth or clothing at all , live completly naturally and very strict vegetarians. I wonder how they do their shopping? Or maybe they live purely off the land? What about shampoo and moisturiser? Clearly not the life for me! Returning to Blooms we have a stroll and notice some young men who have come to stay – they are chatting amongst themselves over breakfast
At 4 we are collected for an aruveydic massage. We are dropped in front of the aruyvdic medicine shop and ushered down a dusty alley to some rooms at the back , very basic with beautifully carved wooden beds – beautiful but hard on our poor naked selves! My masseuse is a lovely lady called Sabinda, she tells me with sign language to get naked and shows no shock at my one – boobedness bless her! Or even the size of the bottom she is going to have to massage! She sits me on a stool to start with and I wonder how many naked ladies have sat on it and of course whether it has ever been sanitised! She pours hot mixed oils with cinnamon and spice into her hands which are formed into a cup and offers them up for a minute before trickling the oil gently onto my hair, then massages it into my scalp with deft , firm , but not tough hands
We are driven back to our books, tea and balcony with birdsong by the aruyvedic practitioner. We collapse and read in blissful contentment before attempting an hour or two later to remove the oil from our heads! Followed by dinner , almost identical to last nights – no alcohol again chaps! The bottle of gin Arvin had purchased from the "wine shop" , a licensed but strange place our driver took us to, was down an alley up a flight of stairs, the vendor behind a cage , a queue of 30 people and the gin – well – we tried it
We go for breakfast at 8.30 to be ready to leave for Bandipur at 9.30 – the chef speeds off on the motor bike to get a pineapple to squeeze for our juice the coffee is terrible , the juice lovely , the bread for toast as in most places is sweet , more like brioche without the butter says Arv and the omelette cold, but hey this is India – he makes at least 4 trips to our table outside to bring it to us too!! Off to Bandipur we go! xx