Published: July 12th 2008July 6th 2008
After an extra night at Munnar, we have headed 130km South to Kumily, where the Peiryar Wildlife Sanctuary is found.
Kumily has an aromatic charm - with spice shops and auryveric medicines/massages being every second shop. The town is kept noticeably clean with the town folk ready to help out even with a glance in their direction. We even got to meet Ivan, the jungle man who gave both of us friendship bonding flowers. Arriving at Green View Homestay, friends from JJ’s cottage that we had stayed at the previous night, they arranged activities for our 2 days. On Tuesday evening we first went to Kalari Kelara Martial Arts performance which is highly recommended. It was the origin of kung fu, dating back over 3,000 years - sparks, fire poi and acrobatics were impressive. The second show is not recommended - two guys half dressed playing a drum & symbols and another 2 dressed up - one with green face and the other with orange face which did hand and eye movements and a little bit of dancing. Can’t remember what the name of this show is - but all through Kerala they sell these two shows together.
Wed 2nd July, we do the Periyar Wildlife lake boat in the morning for 2 hours. I’m not sure if it was the time of year or what, but all we got to see is a few shag’s and some bison backsides - not impressed! After French toast and omelet at the French Café we walked back to the wildlife park for some 3 hours trekking. We saw more on the walk than we did on the boat ride.
The Nature Walk with a local guide took us on a wild elephant chase, spotting frogs, monkeys and wild boar along the way…and the tiger paw print. We tracked an elephant for an hour until we heard a trumpet only 20meters away…Torin was going to see his first wild elephant! But unfortunately, no elephant sighting because of the thick bush. However, on the return journey Torin encountered the dancing leeches, which was the only jungle inhabitant that didn’t run away when we came close.
Kumily is one of those quant towns we’d love to come back to.
While at the park we learnt of another strike - this time affecting all of Kerala state. To escape being stuck in another
mountain town doing nothing, we hired a get away driver to get to Alleppey for our houseboat cruise the next day. He was doing 100+km around the back roads, passing communist protesters (photo), cattle trucks and buses on blind corners - but somehow we both felt safe-ish and Andrea still managed a nap.
Another sunny day in monsoon, we are woken up at 5am by another loud mosque prayer - resulting in a grumpy Andrea. Her mood soon changed when we were sailing away on the houseboat complete with mushrooms in the shower - ha ha. Food was amazing! Local produce including fresh fish, prawns as big as Torin’s foot and a colourful orgy of vegetables and fruit. Andrea got tummy-ache from eating too much!
The backwaters were formed by the great flood in the 14th Century which brought fresh water from the mountains to form India’s largest lake. This shallow lake now has partitions of rock walls creating cannels and farmable area - fishing, coconut, bananas and rice. Locals say its gods gift to the Kerala people.
In the afternoon after watching coconut trees slowly pass by, Torin takes control of the boat…we have a problem…the
In the wildlife park, Kumily
wind grabs us and we crash into a coconut tree. Everythings okay though, but the captain thinks its best now we find our way towards the toddy. Anchoring the house for the night, we are warmly met by a family with three children who live on a 3meters wide x 2km long stretch of land. We assist them in catching dinner for the 4 Brit’s on the other house boat - 2 turtles and some cat-fish.
The Captain leaves for 2 hours while we eat dinner - comes back wasted on toddy - a fermented coconut drink. He offers us 1 litre of this foul tasting ‘tonic’ which we couldn’t even finish one glass of, and had little effect on us. Stick to a cold local beer we say!!
Back on land we take a 4 hour autorickshaw ride north to Kochi on the back roads of the backwaters. We passed the locals catching fish with Chinese fishing nets, women making rope from coconut fibers plus white sandy beaches - Andrea’s first time seeing the ocean for 3 months. Fort Kochi is similar to Mt. Maunganui, NZ.
Only 50meters from our hotel room, we meet the possibly the
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
only other NZer in South India - Ed from Auckland who is also an AIESECer doing an internship in Bangalore. Boy, was he happy to see us, and joined us for divine fish curry’s and local beer overlooking the harbour - lovely.
We went to the Indo-Portuguese Museum which explained the history of Fort Kochi in the 15th Century when the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Jews and Islam missionaries arrived to try and convert the local Hindu people. The locals openly took on the other religions, but instead of converting them, they amalgamated traditions and some now worship all religions equally.
One week in Kerala is not even close to enough time. There’s so much to see and do that a month could very easily be filled. Definitely a place to return to!
Next stop for us is Delhi / Golden Triangle.
There are more photos below