Mettupalayam via Coimbatore
Leave at 6:45 picking up bus just down the road from Green…Inn, luckily the mgr told us where to go since if left to our own devises we probably would have gone to the bus station and the bus did not stop there at all! Here we meet a very nice couple from Denmark, Thomas & Anne, who travel in our direction - or visa versa - for next several days. We share many tales and life experiences, a very compatible and wonderful couple.
A twisty, turny, bumpy, 1 ½ lanes thru mtns – rivers, tea plantations, ‘forest’, switchback after switchback into the clouds of early morning. Really stunning! Great brisk fresh air! Some truly unbelievable slopes – 70 degree – of tea, hard to see how they pick on such steep slopes!
At the bottom of these steep drainages the runoff ‘channels’ are filled w/ the vine/plant that has the big white, fragrant, trumpet flower which opens at night (name?).
Also, along the road the 30-40’ tall orange flowering trees which I cannot identify either – beautiful – plus the blooming poinsettias all along the road at lower elevations. We see for the first time sprinkler irrigation of the tea plants, not much area in irrigation but unexpected as well.
We drove thru a fenced corridor – fence w/ barbed wire on both sides of the road – where the govt has protected a forest of sandalwood, a protected tree (this is just past Marayoor). We enter Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, the road now just a one lane paved, winding, & switch backed!
I’ve noticed in all of Kerala often there are little conservation/eco friendly homilies along the road & much less litter, more trash bins and reminders like ‘plastic bags can kill’ both in English and local script (Tamil?). Next we enter Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary – steep forested mtn sides w/ sheer rocky outcroppings, tho we are driving thru acacia covered valley w/ dense thicket of growth and a lake. Extreme luck would play a huge part in any wildlife sightings here other than monkeys or perhaps birds. We come down & out of the sanctuary into a large mango orchard and coco palm plantation followed by flat plain of agric – more coco & corn & sugar & bananas, other field crops.
We see more thatched roofs (as opposed to red tile) and woven mat sided houses (rather than stuccoed brick/cement block). The road appears to be newly resurfaced + now definitely 2 lane +. Back to seeing flat wagon bullock carts too – pulled by Brahma bulls, the ones w/ the hump.
Just out of Udumelpet we come to another expansive area w/ electric windpower generators – dozens, perhaps 100s since they are spread out over a large area as far as the eye can see. This being so flat, the wind just whips along.
We reach Coimbatore, a traffic/motorcycle congested city which to me has no redeeming qualities, but then I detest big cities, this being 1.3 million +! We arrive at 12:30 and try to make connections w/ ongoing bus, somewhat unsuccessfully, the locals not understanding our desires (English is not spoken here to any great degree)…we end up at another bus stop to get the right bus finally heading ‘out-of-town’ about 1:45. Due to urban sprawl tho it seems we are still traveling thru city traffic even an hour later.
We arrive in Mettupalayam at 3 pm, walked across the street(literally) to Nanda Lodge where both T & A and we had booked rooms earlier. For 350 r we got the biggest room we’ve had so far incl hot water! Off to the RR station, just a short walk away where we buy unreserved seats for 20 r. each to Ooty.
Couple from Denmark, Thomas & Anne, are on a 6 mo journey, he being a carpet layer and she a PT – jobs wait for them when they get back, nice country Denmark! Looking to start a family so this is like a last fling before the family ‘trip’, ha!