|Our hotel in Kochi was opposite a school. As we ate breakfast the kids were arriving for the day. All neatly dressed in uniform with enormous rucksacks even the little ones. And we were amazed by the tuktuks Tardis like properties. We got three adults in the back. One pulled up at school and kids just kept piling out like some kind of TV comedy - in the end we think 8 in total all with backpacks!! As we left the hotel at 8am it was clearly the start of school and the gates must be locked at that point. Some latecomers turned up - running to get to the gate but then couldn't get in - hope their punishment isn't too bad!!
We had a 30min minibus trip to Ernakulum station- G and i recognised areas we had walked through as we drove past. Our train was due to leave at 930 so we were early. Apparently it is the express train but so far seems slower than a local train! Aircon coach, big comfy seats and constant stream of food to buy! The downside is the luggage all had to be lifted onto racks above the seats - still a bit of weightlifting helps the fitness regime! (ok I supervised!)
We are headed up the west coast - slightly inland. The scenary is quite lush - lots of palm trees, banana trees etc by the side of the tracks and into the villages beyond. iPod, eReader and sleep for four hours....
Our stop was the last one which meant we didn't have a mad rush to get bags down. Ravi went to find our coach so we stayed on the platform and were befriended by some local boys - naming football stars and premier league teams seemed to be the common language!
Our coach was stuck in traffic so we headed to the station carpark and piled into tuktuks - now not so Tardis like with two people, two rucksack bags, and two day sacks. Still at least we had inbuilt airbags! We'd arrived in Kozhikode which is where our trip moves away slightly from the itinerary. We went to a hotel for lunch and the room was at the back with very little natural light - and what there was was shut out by the curtains! Also the lights were off so we read the menu by torchlight! After a quick fish curry and chicken biryani we joined the coach or should I say minibus and an old one at that with natural aircon! I'm so glad we are only 10 in the group - the back two rows were filled with the luggage and the leg room was rubbish so we are spreading out as much as we can and will be rotating seats.
We had just over two hours on the bus heading out of the city and up into Kalpetta in Wayanad district which is the most scenic region of Kerala with rolling hills covered with plantations of tea, coffee, rubber and spices. As we got further into the countryside I could tell the air was getting fresher. However the roads were getting bumpier and at some points seemed as if they were dirt tracks. We travelled toward the hills and moved onto hairpin bends and really tight ones at that - but still with over and under taking - madness!! And the road was being repaired so it went down to one "lane". However one lane, hairpin bends, lorries and local buses don't mix so we had to reverse down hill a few times! And once the hairpins straigtened out we had the other road obstacle - monkeys! They just sat in the road - no fear at all - one looked like a little fat cross legged Buddha!
Just after 5.30 we arrived at our hotel in Kalpetta- a modern newly built 10 storey block which seems a bit out of place. We have a suite - dining table, sofas and TV in one bit shared with another room, but we're the only ones in - nice. However the smallest bathroom ever - practically sitting on the toilet to shower!
Off to dinner at 7 to a hotel up the road. Lovely meal and lovely location but again no liquor licence. However a waiter went down the road and bought us Kingfisher beer but we had to hide the bottles under the table! Beer ended up being two thirds of the bill!! Had a very interesting conversation with Ravi about arranged marriages and the caste system. Back to hotel at 945 and catching up on BBC Worldwide news. Leaving at 830am tomorrow for a full day out - back at 7pm!!