22.12.2016 - 01.01.2017 30 °C
India has not disappointed us this Christmas and New Year. We've taken an 8 hour government ferry ride from Kollam to Alleppey, peacfully gliding at 2 miles an hour through Kerala's backwaters and spying on its neighbours bathing, boating and fishing in its waters (including the local Communist party waving their flags). On route we met Quyen and Theo from Austria, who became our trusty travel comrades on our quest to conquer Indian cuisine.
Since, we've taken a 7am bus ride into the whispering valleys of Munnar, where we teamed up with our Austrian amigos and Shoshuna and Thomas on their honeymoon hike on Christmas Day. We walked 15k, scoffed our faces on fruits and spices, and had a great nap together on a warm rock in the middle of a lofty tea plantation.
Our adventure continued, on two overnight buses to Wyanad (which kindly offered cockroaches a free ride too). Theo and Quyen stalked us all the way but we finally lost them (haha) after another sweaty bus ride to the city of Mysore where we sit now in this delightful internet cafe.
Christmas hike and dosa delights in Munnar
Munnar town is nestled in the Western Ghats mountains, 1,700m above sea level. The town has a huge personality and is spilling at the seams. Crammed with cars, trucks, buses and racing tuk tuks we inhaled a fair amount of fumes, but the locals were friendly and the food was plentiful and scrumptious! We shared a massive Masala Dosa and sampled all the local street food - here's a picture of the locals making fresh parotha bread.
We spent Christmas and Boxing Day in a cottage in the hills to escape the noise and fumes. On Christmas Day evening the local kiddies dressed up as Santa and paraded the hills banging drums and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. On Boxing Day the village had a Hindu festival and everyone was out to see the parading elephant, drummers and dancers as they marched their way singing to temple. There, Camille and Clemonte (wonderful folk from France) joined our journey to Kelpetta in the Wyanad region.
We all spent a few days feasting, hiking Chembra Peak, swimming in waterfalls and going on a jeep safari in the Wyanad Reserve. We saw a wild bull elephant extremely close to our jeep which was quite terrifying and lots of monkeys. Food highlights have to be the Chilli Chicken dish with lime, paneer masala and more parotha bread (so many calories but so good!).
Glitz and glamour in Mysore
We are now travelling alone again after saying farewell to our travel buddies. Last night we celebrated New Years Eve in Mysore, a smallish city (in Indian terms) in the southwestern state of Karnataka. The city is LOUD, quirky, full of markets and people selling and buying everything from flowers and veg to incense sticks and body paint. We started the evening having all you can eat buffet at the Green Hotel (a palace originally built for Mysore's princess) followed by surprise fireworks and a smuggled bottle of red wine at the illuminated Palace (which we also visited in the day time with THOUSANDS of other very hyperactive Indian tourists).
Food highlights in Mysore have to be the South Indian vegetarian thali (Ron you would have loved it!), mushroom biryani and also bright green spinach balls!
I'm pleased to say that despite eating everything and anything in site (including all kinds of weird and wonderful fruits) we have not had any 'serious' diarrhea. I had not been to the toilet for 5 days but I'm pleased to say that today on the 1st January I have had a revelation! We've tried out the 'but wash' hose - it's very refreshing but we need more practice as it's easy to squirt it in the wrong place!
Right I need to escape this internet hovel. Much love and happy new year!
Kerri and Lewy xxx