Ooty – day 102

Woke up to the sun shining through our threadbare curtains and the birds singing – it was actually one of the nicest ways to have woken up! Slowly extracted ourselves from the cocoon of blankets, duvets and sheets that we had used during the night to shield us from the cold. Had a delightfully hot shower – you know it’s cold outside when there is steam coming off your limbs the minute you turn off the shower!! Got dressed and opened up our door to the balcony to let the sun into our room, where we met a French lady who was looking for some walking buddies for the day. She showed us the map of the route she wanted to take. In desperate need of breakfast and coffee before any big decisions were to be made, we headed down to the dining room of the guest house. A cheese omelette, toast and 2 coffees later, we were both feeling more human and decided to throw out our original days plans of relaxing and go hiking with Eve. Grabbed our stuff, including some left overs from our picnic last night, and headed out to the bus station to catch the local bus to the starting point. Having always shared the task of finding out what bus we needed to get, it was quite refreshing letting Eve ask the bus conductors although I did feel slightly guilty letting her do it in her second language. As we got on the right bus, the driver decided to ‘entertain’ us with the loudest Hindi music ever – so much for chatting! Got off the bus after about 10 minutes of meandering through the narrow lanes of the mountain at high speeds and were immediately rewarded with a stunning view of the valley below. IMG_4130
IMG_4129Whilst Jayne and Eve took photos of the temple, I tried (unsuccessfully) to make friends with the shabbiest, shaggy sheep I’d ever seen. We started walking down the road, stopping for more photos and chatting about ourselves. Saw the toy train come along the track, which looked even more precarious than it felt yesterday! IMG_4150Took the route we thought it should be and walked through a beautiful forest of silver oak trees, stumbling upon a little village that appeared to have a bomb shelter at the end of it (currently being used to store wood!). Got to a section of the trail which had no apparent way to go, so Eve went asking for direction and we got sent down a section between two houses. Ended up walking for a bit through the village and local tea plantations, saying hi to the villagers and wishing them ‘Happy Pongal’.IMG_4162Managed to the find the road we should have been on and continued our hike. Described as a culture hike by the tourist office, it was 12km of walking through different villages and through the agricultural fields. We saw kids playing cricket, which Jayne was asked to join but she turned them down since they were basically playing in a scrapyard. We also saw a man splitting tea trees in half by using an axe and Eve took photos of the locals in exchange for ‘tips’. Stopped outside a beautiful temple for a snack when we got told off by a passing priest for having our shoes on inside the complex – on the grass… The final section of the hike was a little bit tough, with basically a vertical uphill climb to the bus stop. Only stopped once en route for a quick water drink and to catch our breath. IMG_4252Didn’t have to wait long for a bus back to Ooty, although it was ridiculously full – so much so that Jayne and I were wedged together between two seats as the conductor frantically tried to find space for the ‘fat’ tourists. Arrived back in town and, after having to use our elbows to get off the bus through the mass of people trying to get on the bus, we went back to the guest house. Spent some time sitting on the terrace, enjoying the last of the sun, sorting through the photos and chatting to Eve’s travel companion, Camille. We all went out for dinner together, to a nearby hotel that seemed more interested in clearing up our plates and getting rid of us than letting us enjoy our food. Didn’t really matter as we were all tired and I had gotten disgustingly sun burnt on my neck so we went back to the guest house and nestled straight back into our bedding cocoons.
IMG_4194Sunday 17th January 2016