This is just a quick summary of our most recent goings on as this internet cubicle only seems to have an air supply of around 8 mins.
After having undeserved luck on our first train trip, we should’ve expected some approaching inconveniences. The 1 hour train delay might’ve indicated a large number of people entering and exiting carriages. The fact that trains were fully booked until the 25th might have alluded to the fact that things might be cramped. The occurence of Indian holidays might have pointed to difficulties in upgrading…but we were determined to get into Kerala at (almost) all costs. And we paid our dues…
The train was completely full. Think sardines sleeping in three-tier sleepers. Think smelly feet and closed windows. Think 35 degree heat and high humidity…luckily, we didn’t have to deal with that. The absence of sleepers meant that Storm and I created a bivouac in the corrider near the exits downwind of the toilets. The fresh air was invigorating, the metal ribbings of the floor left lasting impressions and,when the train stopped, the smell of latrines was potent to say the least. This is not to complain, however, as we slept a few hours of intermittent sleep, absorbing sideways glances from fellow commuters before four Coffee sellers converged on us at 5am. If you’ve been on an indian train, you know what I mean.
Indians being Indians, however, we were offered beds by some lovely cohabitants and fell into a comparatively rich slumber (until the heat was no longer bearable). A few hours later and we arrived in Kochi – a total of 1096 kilometres, at a price of $4.50 each. Not bad in my books.
After 2 days in blatant heat and humidity, and a minor run-in with bed bugs, Storm and I have arrived in Munnar. The bus trip up the mountains was worthy of mention of its own accord and will be presented in a lyrically-charged later post. The surrounds are gorgeous: tea plantations, beautiful valleys, eucalypt forests and green – everywhere green. The patterns of the tea plantations kept us amused for hours as we bumped along for a 64 km rickshaw roundtrip to see various sights and sites. (The least convincing of which was Echo point – a place on the edge of a lake where one could yell and hear an echo – something that might be achieved with similar success in a bathtub, or underwater.)
Our guide, Bala, was uber-lovely and went out of his way in kindness. His offers to take us an additional 120km by rickshaw tomorrow were politely refused, however, as we have been bumping, swaying and vibrating on various forms of transport for the last week. Time to read and drink some ever abundant tea.
So we’ll leave you in good health and in fresh air. We hope you are well and will speak to you soon. Btw…I saw an elephant…
Next Periyar and Trivandrum before Mumbai and home…
James and Storm