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Published: March 13th 2018
Day 13-15 – Hello Hill stations – Spices
Babu had yet another man waiting for us 1st
thing (7:30am) in one of his (Babu’s) own cars. The car was all decked out with beach towels which we’d find out later why. Sad to say bye to Babu, the boy even hugged him & Babu had a hard day ahead of him as his deceased employee’s parents were coming (we chipped into a fund for them as am guessing no workers insurance for seasonal staff).
This was our longest road trip 177km (6000rps) and it was very winding road up the mountains. Both kids puked, although we caught boys in time but the girl was first and got some of the inside of the car – hence the beach towels, d’oh. Think she had 2 goes. After that we travelled with disposable bags to hand. Luckily we could change her clothes and the driver just chucked the towel. He was a man of steel and we didn’t really have any stops (bar puking ones). We got to Kumily in a region called Thekaddy by lunch time to a lovely eco resort called Greenwoods. Then he turned tail and drove another 5 hours back!
The journey up was very scenic and we passed a Hindu festival where all the men were topless and covered in lurid colour paint dancing through the streets. Kerala is a communist state (so good for women) and has loads of interesting political posters and communist bunting. The further up we went the more beautiful nature was with amazing flowers along the road. Then we saw the sign for Connemara tea (so Lord Connemara got all over the empire not just to our Connaught) and saw the beautiful neat tea hedges, such a pleasing sight, like maze hedges but in uniform rows. Also we saw cows sitting in the middle of a town, naturally.
So Greenwoods welcomed us with sandalwood paste and drinks and necklaces made of cashew nuts. Again no family rooms but the rooms were massive – surely they could’ve put 2 fold ups in there? Another failing of booking.com. We did have a nice buffet lunch there and the pukers had chips.
One of the main reasons to go there is to go to Periyar Tiger reserve – they were nearly extinct and now that are back up to 24. But it turns out only a cruise is suitable for kids (treks would be too hard) and it all had to booked on the government website in advance with your passport number (to stop hawkers). Guess what? The government website can’t or won’t take foreign credit cards!!! So one of the staff at the hotel had to use his and I paid him cash (2000rps). Anyway good we sorted it.
The grounds of the place covered in all sorts of trees yielding interesting fruit. There was also tiny farm on site with special small Vechur cows whose milk is good for Ayurveda products, from a village called Vechur hence the name. They had a fairly advanced ecological water purifying/reusing system going on too. Swimming pool was nice but not heated (only one we encountered so was a bit of a shock to the system). The air was back down to early 20 degree temps, but once you got in it was grand! I played water soccer with the kids as there were 2 goals set up. At night there was cooking demo, a documentary on the Periyar tiger reserve and a traditional dance performed by an amazing 12 year old in a fantastic costume. My girl loved it. Dinner was back to wall to wall buffet but this one was only 700rps ($14) per adult & kids free (I think).
So next day (after buffet breakfast, natch) we got a tuk-tuk to the bus that goes to the port for the Periyar cruise (bus depo was close enough to walk so we walked back later and had a look at the town of Kumily & even took out cash from an ATM). The part of the reserve where you get the boat is crawling with some very cheeky monkeys, who I think were having a good laugh at the tourists. The ferries are a bit like steamers although for the first time this trip we had life jackets – the kids were playing sumo wrestlers in them. We saw loads of wildlife: elephants, bison, boars etc. and many birds. Alas no tigers but we knew that was very unlikely at 11am. Didn’t stop the girl having a sulk! A big sulk that other people noticed!!
Ended up having all western style lunch (hubby not best pleased with me for sullying his palate!) but the veg burger was made to look a big happy frogs head!
Anyway that afternoon we did an elephant ride at Elephant Junction – which I’m still not sure was the humane thing to do but they seemed to be treated ok. And we had a tour of a spice plantation where 1st
we were the main attraction (while they rang for a guide to come) and are in 100 peoples selfies! It was all a bit overwhelming actually. The tuk-tuk who brought us to Elephant Junction abandoned us (which was a bit unusual) so we walked from Elephant Junction to The Spice Farm which was actually good wandering around country roads for a bit.
The Spice Farm was fascinating. It’s amazing that what look like ordinary plants and flowers to us have all sorts of Ayurvedic medicinal powers, everything from black pepper plants (digestion) to hibiscus (blood pressure) to drumstick flowers (natural Viagra). There were also ornamental flowers such as the beautiful lady shoe that looks like you guessed it, a ladies shoe. The 5yo was grilling our guide on what plants did what. Afterwards I got some oil for aching joints. They asked the hubby did he want weight loss stuff, ha ha (only chubby part of him is his gut). Then they took loads of selfies with us!
Back at the hotel we hit the cool treehouse café for authentic afternoon goodness (coconut based snacks) followed by onsite playground and that evening the princess and I went to another dance performance, the boys declined to join us, this time we saw a lovely 17 year old dancer. We called it girls night! We met the boys later for more buffet dinner madness.
Our last morning was spent at the farm, patting the Vechur cows and looking at chucks and playing in the playground. This place had everything.
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