When we arrived to Ooty in the late afternoon, we noticed a considerable difference in temperature! It was much cooler, but it actually felt like a nice change from the heat.
As we hadn’t booked accommodation yet, we hoped that we could get bed in YWCA hostel, but it was full. However, it seemed there was no need to panic as we were easily checked into Sweekar. It’s a really nice place to stay – really close to the town centre and bus station, incredibly friendly staff and nice, large ensuite rooms. We were told there was a hot shower, but forgot to mention that it was only hot between 7am and 12pm… the first night, being rather cold myself, I skipped the shower.
Even though most of India that we have visited is currently in low season (April), in Ooty, possibly because of the cooler weather, it is actually high season, and we found that prices of everything were actually double. So, our accommodation was 600Rs per room per night.
On our first night, we went for a walk around the town, and were pleasantly surprised to see a dancing parade heading down the road (we were later told it was a lead up to a festival celebrated for the Hindu goddess, Mariamman) Men were jumping around with foil pom-pom trees on their shoulders, and behind them, a tractor was slowly towing a stage with a Hindu god on it. We watched as they danced all the way down the road, before heading to recommended Kebab House. Luke and Brendan decided that they wanted to share the mixed tikka kebab, which was supposed to be difficult for 4 people to eat, let alone 2, whereas me and Winnie shared one Paneer tikka kebab and fries. I have to say, the food was to die for! Cooked to perfection! Luke and Brendan took some time finishing their plates, but miraculously they succeeded. And on our way home, we all bought a few hundred grams of homemade chocolate! Naughty.
The next day we went on a full day ‘trek’ with a guide and an Italian couple. We walked up many hills, through many tea plantations and through a huge eucalyptus forest – we weren’t allowed to take photos in tea plantation area where the people were working (probably because this tea was being exported and the people being exploited). At lunch, we stopped in the village, and walked into a room full of flies. Absolutely full of them! After laying down newspaper on the tables, we were given large green sheets of paper shaped into banana leaves, and then we were given our rice, sauce, vegetables and papad. It was really nice actually. We had to eat with out hands, which was a little difficult at first, but the technique improved, and for 2 servings of food we only paid 55Rs each. After lunch, we trekked up to the peak of the nearest mountain and sat down for a while to enjoy the jaw-dropping view. When our guide was ready, we made our way back down to the village and from there we caught bus back to Ooty town.
Of course, we were all ready for a nice hot shower when we returned to our guesthouse, and were pretty upset when it was cold! When I asked the lady at the desk, she informed me that hot water only ran from 7am to 12pm (we hadn’t been told about this before). Although I contemplated a freezing shower, with cold temperatures outside and a cold bedroom, I decided against it seeing how cold Brendan was after his. Remaining smelly, I joined the troop and we walked into town looking for food and internet (of course, there was none) We ate at Patel in Charing Cross area. On the way, the streets were heaving with people, and stalls selling goods. There were wooden carts everywhere with Hindu gods on, and there was someone singing on stage. It was absolutely crazy! Of course, as I mentioned, this was in celebration of Mariamman, the Mother Goddess. On the streets, people were buying what looked like icecreams wrapped in newspaper, but at a closer glance we realised the newspaper was wrapping salt! Everyone everywhere was throwing salt at the big wooden cart, which I later found out was because they believe, that as salt dissolves, so too will their sins.
After a hectic night of pushing through the crowds, we returned home, to find hundreds of small, dead cockroaches on the floor outside our rooms. A little freaked out, we searched our rooms and (the boys) removed any intruders. The fact that there were so many, and that they were dead, was so confusing! As we watched a film on the computer, a couple of rogue ones kept flying in my face – needless to say I didn’t have a very peaceful night, especially with the loud scratching and running around I could hear in the ceiling and walls around me. The following day, Luke told me that they had cockroaches flying at them throughout the night, and found that they had actually come from underneath the mat outside of the bathroom! They must have all hatched that night, though the puzzle as to why they were all dead remains a mystery!
On the early bus to Coimbatoire, a couple of live baby cockroaches, had accompanied us on our journey – the rascals.
When we got to Coimbatoire, we were told that our 12.05 train to Alleppey was on Platform One, however we kept hearing it announced on Platform 5. we rushed to that platform, and it was so busy with people getting on that they were literally hanging off the train. Brendan and I got split up from Luke and Winnie who had our tickets and were on a separate carriage, and at 12.15, Luke rang us telling us to get off the train, “WRONG TRAIN!” we ran as fast as possible considering out luggage, the crowd and the heat, back to Platform One, to find our train happily standing there – luckily – miraculously – very, very late!! It was a very stressful situation, though we are pleased to have the full carriage to ourselves. Let’s hope this is a peaceful journey!!