It's chilly in the mountains!

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
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Trip End Mar 28, 2006


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Flag of India  ,
Friday, March 17, 2006

After one ferry crossing, four rickshaws, two trains, two buses and a night's stay in a small town (with no internet connection) called Mettupalayam, I've finally arrived in Ooty! It actually wasn't as horrible as it sounds. Ooty is over 2000m above sea level and I am certainly feeling the change in temperature. I only arrived this morning and i have already bought some cheap shoes and a highly flammable synthetic fleece! The room in my guest house even has a blanket and an extra eiderdown and no fan.
The journey here was really enjoyable and problem free. Although leaving in the dark was abit hard. My first train was 5 hours from Ernakulam (Cochin) to Coimbatore otherwise known as 'Manchester of South India' according to the Tourist information bloke! There's a large textile industry there. As i was in one of the higher classes (i'm not sure which one as there are quite a few and i don't know the differences!) you get given a sheet, blanket and pillow and your seat is the whole bench. Tried to sleep but Indian trains are very noisy with all the various men selling things up and down the train shouting 'chai, chai', 'samosa, samosa', 'water, water'. Figured out the buses and made it to Mettupalayam by lunch. My hotel wasn't the most beautiful but i did have a great view of the mountains from my bedroom window. There was also a sunset to top things off.
Today i had to get up early again to catch the 'toy train' or the Blue Mountain Railway up to Ooty. The train is cream and blue and was opened in 1899. It is very narrow and abit rickerty but we got there. A kind couple who live in Ooty swapped seats with me so i could have a better view. And the views were spectacular and certainly worth the uncomfortable 5 hours! It goes up the mountains, through 16 tunnels where all the Indian tourists insist on screaming in for the echo, over quite a few bridges which open out onto views of the misty blue hills, through lush eucalyptus and pine forests and tea and coffee plantations.
Back in the colonial days, due to the unbearable heat, the British sent expeditions up the Ghats to find hill stations they could retreat to. They found Ooty, established it as their summer retreat and built cottages, members club, tennis courts and a lake. By the sounds of it they also had a jolly good time and billiards, apprently was founded here. The town centre isn't quite as picturesque today but i visited the Botanical Gardens which did make me feel i was back in England. Except for the hoardes of Indian school children running riot! It actually seems quite poor here. Notably more than in Kerala.
I've asked my guest house lady if she can organise a walk tomorrow. Hopefully there will be enough other people wanting to go for us to have a guide. If not there are buses up to various summits and waterfalls. Fingers crossed it won't be too misty or raining...
XXX
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