In the Misty Mountains

We had a bit of a weird time in Tamil Nadu. It was cold. Really cold. South India shouldn’t be cold should it? Anyhoo, we started our day by crossing the state borders and driving from Bandipur to Ooty (still not used to hopping in a car instead of queueing for agrees for train tickets). Ooty is a hill station that the British set up while here to get away from the stifling heat. We reckon it had to be set up by the Scottish as the climate goes a little beyond just your standard English kind of miserable.  It’s a tiny place with not a lot to do here –  there are a few view points, which are of course spectacularly unviewy in the thick midst – and there’s a botanical garden which we think may have been set up to show Indians the kind of things that we grow in an English country garden. It’s entirely fill of exotic things like geraniums and daisies and…um…cabbages. Yes. Really.

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And a map of India! We are here! Ish. Pointing at the wrong state though. We didn’t reach Kerala for another two days.

We also went to the Thread Garden, a room displaying an indoor garden of hand made plants made of wound embroidery thread which describes itself as a miracle of handicraft. Lonely Planet describes this a ‘just slight hyperbole’, but it was still pretty impressive, especially for my textile artist mother, who may have been a tiny bit excited when I … sort of stole a leaf for her (in my defence it was already broken off a plant and just lying on the floor)

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In the meantime the mist had turned to rain and the rain had turned to a deluge and the deluge had turned to walking through a swimming pool so I was getting somewhat shivery in my soaked jacket and we headed back to our hotel.  Fortunately for the night in Ooty we happened to be staying in an old stately home complete with log fire to dry our clothes. Unfortunately Indians have no idea how to light fires so it only lasted about 10 minutes. Fortunately again my parents are not backpackers so we managed to dry most of our clothes and warm ourselves up with Mum’s hair dryer. Thank God for almost limitless baggage space.

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The next morning we got the ‘toy train’ through the hills to Coonoor so my dad could live out his closet trainspotter tendencies. This is largely a tourist service, so much nicer than the rest of the trains I had been taking! Nice big windows to see the views, a whole carriage to ourselves and even a free newspaper. Very civilised.

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Coonoor has another botanical garden. This one has boats! Woo!

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Mum and dad were also lamenting that they had been a little cotton wooled while in north India so we stole away from our driver so I could introduce them to the wonders of the thali. Lives were changed that day. (Prem’s realised that we don’t always need to play it safe in hotel restaurants and he’s taken us to some great lunch places on the road since)

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And then the next day. Ah the next day. Kerala means land of coconuts and incredibly, the swathes of coconut trees pop up the instant you cross the border. It was quite a long drive day today so the hotel was just a stop until tomorrow, but it just happened to be a 5 star stop. I could so get used to travel like this. Seriously considering cutting my trip short and spending all my budget in one month instead.

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