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Chapter thirty five - Dalhousie

overcast 25 °C

Day 133: Dalhousie, Sri Lanka 10/02/2012

Up and out (I break the shower head at our overrated guesthouse) and have a good breakfast down the road. We get to the bus station to catch the bus to Dalhousie and Adam's Peak. The journey is painless and easy. Arrive in Dalhousie where there are a number of very strange market stalls selling some serious tat. Get a spare room in someone's house, as the guesthouses next door are far too expensive. Have a cold dinner and an early night to prepare for tomorrow. All of it.

Posted by tevs 05:23 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged hills sri_lanka dalhousie adams_peak Comments (0)

Chapter thirty four - Kandy

sunny 28 °C

Day 131: Kandy, Sri Lanka 08/02/2012

Get up and go early doors. Being sat idle this close to the beach is killing us as we wait for our skin to recover fully. Pick up some breakfast from the bakers and catch the bus back to Colombo. This is quite busy and despite a minor (major) panic when our bags 'disappear' (the conductor has put them in the boot) and our shoulders are squashed together by other passengers, we have a fairly easy journey back to the capital. We are then straight onto another uncomfortable vehicle for the journey to Kandy (4 hours) and arrive more than ready to stretch our legs.

Tuk-tuk from the bus station to one of the cheaper hotels in the Rough Guide. More expensive than anticipated for a pretty basic room so we hunt about. It seems the prices have all gone up since the book was printed. Eventually go back to the first room.

We go for a walk and have a quality evening. We find the Kandy Garden Club as described in the book and have a quality tea of devilled chicken and prawn and fried rice and noodles, which comes to about 4 quid with drinks. We then head next door into their bar area, which is basically a working men's club thrown back to the 1960's (I would imagine). We have good cheap beer (rum for Gemma) and a game of snooker in their billiards room, where the return of Tommy O'Sullivan occurs and a high quality tactical battle occurs. Of who can go the longest without potting a ball.

We take the wrong turning on the way home and are chased by some dogs before finding our way back and being welcomed by a giant cockroach in the bathroom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R28-wB9RINg).

Day 132: Kandy, Sri Lanka 09/02/2012

Well, a great day had in the sweetest city I can name...

Woke up, had a rip off breakfast of banana pancakes and briefly go online to see the clown Capello has walked. We head out and walk towards the city centre, taking the route around the lake, where we see some big fish, a snake and some water monitor lizards, big, scary, prehistoric looking smelly reptiles. Creepy.

We set our sights on walking up to the huge Buddha statue that sits at the top of a big hill here in Kandy and first have a walk through the city centre. There is a fun second hand market and some clothes stalls (I buy a fake Reebok skin to surf in - turns out to be about twenty sizes too small for me). We make our way up the steep hill to see the Buddha statue (turns out to be a temple) in the midday sun, the hill being at about a 45 degree angle, making for a hot, tiring journey. It is definitely worth it, with some outstanding views of the city below us.

A tout joins us for our walk home, getting mad when we decline his kind offers ('why you waste my time?'). Another trip to the Kandy Garden Club tonight, but the Crucible impressions are not repeated.

Posted by tevs 05:10 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples hills buddha sri_lanka kandy Comments (0)

Chapter twenty six - Coonoor

Day 106: Coonoor, Tamil Nadu 13/01/12

Well, Friday the 13th saw us really struggle. Was horrible to realise this morning that we would be leaving our brief lap of luxury and return to normality. After a breakfast of pancakes and a lie in the huge, comfortable bed, with the log fire roaring (learnt that throwing awful Indian hot chocolate powder on the fire produces Potteresque green flames) and the light, airy room teasing us, we checked out and caught a tuk-tuk to the station. After agreeing a fare of 80 rupees, the driver announces he has now change for my 100 rupee note. As Gemma goes to get some change, small talk with me bores the driver into miraculously producing the required change…

The train to Coonoor is a steam train and the one hour journey costs us 3 rupees each. The carriage is full of people that seem to think that shouting and screaming every time we pass through a tunnel is amusing. It is not. It is annoying.

Find a cold, depressing hotel room back within the budget and have soup in the restaurant downstairs. Mine is so spicy it makes my lips quiver involuntarily. We trundle round the cold, scruffy town and settle down in the sleeping bags for room service dinner.

Posted by tevs 03:23 Archived in India Tagged hills india tamil_nadu coonoor Comments (0)

Chapter twenty five - Ooty

sunny 6 °C

Day 104: Ooty, Tamil Nadu 11/01/12

Up and out from the room where the bed has three legs and a plastic beer crate holding it up. Bit of a wild goose chase to try to find how we get to Ooty, sent from one bus station to another, before trying the train station and being told to catch the bus! A tuk-tuk to the rescue, which takes us to the right bus stand, which is a fair distance from the other bus stations. Similar bus ride to the others, busy, hair raising and beautiful scenery in the Nilgiri mountains.

Off the bus and grab a very average lunch in Ooty, before a tuk-tuk to the hotel, with me a bit apprehensive at Gemma’s birthday surprise…Apprehension dissipates as soon as we pull in to the hotel, a grand old colonial house, with lovely grounds, geese and real grass. Bedroom is magnificent with a huge bed (with a proper mattress – luxury), huge bay window with table and chairs and the log fire is a very welcome warmer in the cold evening.

I head out to grab some great presents for the birthday girl.

Easily the nicest place we have stayed in yet but tea is a slight disappointment, but the comfort of the room and the bed makes for a rather pleasant evening.

Day 105: Ooty, Tamil Nadu 12/01/12

Happy birthday Gemma! We wake up early on this most special of days. When I ask Gemma the time she tells me it is quarter to eight. Turns out it is quarter to seven…

Cards and some presents for a very excited birthday girl in the enormous bed and a reasonable breakfast arrives as well. We arrange to go horse riding – three trekking ponies turn up and away we go. Agree to two hours and with this being my first time on a horse I am a little unsure. Gemma is a pro in comparison, looking a natural and perfectly in proportion with the pony. I seem a little too big for the pony and look a bit like I am riding a Shetland…

We ride in the local mountains, meet a local village tribe and see the incredible traditional buildings. A great day in the fresh air involves some lunch, a mooch around town and some very steep hills. Tea is tandoori chicken and is a bit spicier than anticipated. Laid here writing this with a very sore bum.

Posted by tevs 03:22 Archived in India Tagged hills horses india cold ooty tamil_nadu Comments (0)

Chapter twenty two - Kodaikanal

sunny 10 °C

Day 100: Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu 07/01/12

Wake up and Gemma has already gone out. I leave a note on the door saying ‘@ breakfast, love you.’ This is taken off the door by Prakash, my hotel friend, who thinks I am confessing my undying love for him. Turns out Gemma is at breakfast anyway.

We check our emails quickly before I am stuck in a lift on my own in a powercut, which is actually quite scary. Head to Kodaikanal on the bus, where we are accompanied on the back seat by bags, tyres, old men and their market stalls. Another beautiful drive but a semi-responsible driver makes the experience slightly less nerve wracking. The mountains are again beautiful and each area seems slightly different to the last.

Off the bus and stupidly follow a tout to see a ‘500 rupee lake view cottage’. Needless to say it is a shithole. Find a place that is much better and I am even able to negotiate a deal with the owner. Have a great dinner that makes Gemma very happy and both of us very full. Tibetan food is delicious so must remember to try and find a Tibetan restaurant at home. It is absolutely freezing here.

Day 101: Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu 08/01/12

After a cold night we wake up and I climb into my sleeping bag for the first time on the trip to warm up a bit. After a hot(ish) shower we head out. After arriving at the hotel yesterday, which was on a quiet, deserted road, we find a huge market literally on our doorstep today. Donning fleeces we go to see what is on offer in the town and head back to the Tibetan restaurant for a warming soup.

Found our way back to the lake, where Gemma and ‘Somash’ (from the ‘EK’) hire a pedalo for three quarters of an hour, with Gemma doing most of the pedalling. We then plod round the market, me with some ‘marshmallows’ (lumpy, rubbery sugar balls) and have a great tea of lasagne and pizza.

Posted by tevs 03:17 Archived in India Tagged hills lake tamil_nadu koadaikanal Comments (0)

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