Friday, 15 February 2013

Elephant, Market and Lots of trains

So here goes my January, 2 week holiday in as little words as I can make it because my last holiday blog was unbelievable long.

Indian House - photo taken out of a train window
Our holidays started on the 5th January with us (me, Kyekue and Katie) catching our first of many trains to Chennai, in Tamil Nadu. Changing state which is a nightmare as they no longer speak Telegu and you go back to speaking broken English and using hand signals. From Chennai we took our next train to Kannur.

Trains in India are the most stressful and confusing process known to man. Apparently their system works for them, which I suppose it does. But after being forced to top and tail a single bed smaller than the average cot, I was not to willing to look at the bright side of the Indian railway system. The problem was we booked all our tickets far too late and then was shoved onto the waiting list and RAC train, which basically meant we had to sleep where and when there was no one in the seats.
Me on Kannur beach

In Kannur we had a great time. We met up with Kirsty and Leah (Tirupati volunteers) and we went to see a Hindu ritual called Theyyam. During this ritual, which was being used to bless someone new home, a man is dressed up and then possessed by the god. He then parades around, dancing and throwing flowers, blessing the house and the people in it. It was really interesting to watch but as a Christian I was quite confused as to why someone needs to be dressed up and ‘possessed’ to bless your home.

view from the Edakal caves
We then travel onto a place called Kalpetta. Here we visited Waynard Wildlife sanctuary and went for a very early morning safari in the park. This meant getting up at 3am!! I know crazy right and this was supposed to be our break. As we were leaving the park we saw some elephants in the distance and frankly I was quite disappointed. Waynard was supposed to be the perfect place to see herds of wild elephants but we barely saw any. Our guide was really nice though and he also took us to see the Edakal Caves. They were beautiful and so was the view, if you are willing to climb the thousands of steps to get to the top. It’s easy going when it’s not the middle of the day in scorching Indian heat with a twisted swollen ankle.

Elephant hiding in Waynard
a monkey in Waynard
We then took a toy train from Coimbatore to Ooty. A slow 6000ft climb up a hill. The train was tiny and in our part of the carriage there were so many people with massive rucksacks. It was hilarious watching as we tried to shove the massive bags under seats so small they looked like they were designed for children.

the toy train
Ooty was freezing! That night I wore 2 jumpers, 2 tops, 2 trousers, 1 scarf, 1 shawl, 1 pair of walking socks and 4 blankets. It was soooooo cold. The next day we went horse riding which was funny. Me, Leah and Kirsty went while the other two girls went shopping. Kirsty’s and Leah’s horses hated each other so my rather calm horse was shoved in between them. I had a great time, though I’m not sure if the girls did as their horses were crazy.

We then took the bus journey to end all bus journeys. It was awful. Anyone who knows me well knows I get travel sick, but this coach took it to the extreme. The road was awful, bending turning and bumping all the way back down the hill. I was throwing up on multiple occasions and so was the woman just in front of me. At one point the journey was so awful that I thought the whole bus was going to throw up, including the driver who had gone just as green as the rest of us. But just then the bus journey took a turn for the better. We started to drive through a wildlife sanctuary and we were seeing loads of animals, deer, peacocks and monkeys. We had been driving for a couple of minutes then on the side of the road stood a whole herd of elephants, big ones, small ones, and babies!! I was so excited and for that minute I stopped being sick they were beautiful and so close.

Mysore market
We got to Mysore (our next stop) quite late, booked into our hotel and went to sleep, still queasy from the bus journey but so happy from seeing the elephants. The first day in Mysore was spent doing lots of shopping. It the place to buy silks, so we splashed out on some new saris . . . I brought three! Oops. The next day we took a tour. I visited an art gallery, the zoo, the palace, the temple, a church and some gardens. It was all very beautiful and was a good way to see Mysore as we would never have been able to do and see all that 1 one day alone. The next day we had a rather slow morning, and just lazed around doing a bit of shopping and packing. In the afternoon we took our train to Bangalore.

Mysore palace
the gardens in mysore
Bangalore was a major disaster. We met up with Ruby and Veebs but by now we were completely shattered from all our travelling. We just spent most of our time relaxing and doing some small shopping. In Bangalore I got my ears pierced! First time ever and I’m not sure if I’m used to then being there yet. We also went to see Life of Pi in the cinema in 3D, if you haven’t seen it, do it!! It’s amazing!!

five stuffed in an auto rickshaw
Our McDonald's in Bangalore
We arrived back at Ongole on the 17th to our gorgeous children and an amazing breakfast cooked by Sweetie.

Excited for summer holidays!! Just need to get planning now!!

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