April 27, 1978, We: Got up at 06:30, discarded one old shirt and hiked with Cleetus through a teak and bamboo forest along the mountain road from Kumuli [photos on this link taken by Piet and Marian De Vaan, 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands: bedankt!] (a.k.a. Kumily, the one street spice village with emphasis on pepper and cardamom) to Thekkady till we got picked up by a car. At 07:00 we arrived at the lake and had an argument with the forest officer at the small boat landing who said that their two boats had left already so we would have to wait till 08:00; there was no one in the tourist information office nor in the expensive hotel. Later we saw the French couple watching a monkey from the steep stairway. We drank some coffee and managed to secure a boat for a two hour ride at the rate of R 45.
This was a wonderful experience, gliding over the waters of this man-made reservoir of the 1890's - with trees still sticking out above the water to accommodate some small cormorants (Aninghas or snakebirds?) - named "Lake Periyar." This Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary, together with the Periyar Tiger Reserve, constitutes one of the largest Indian Forest Reserves. We saw many birds, turtles, wild boars, and also a beautiful palace on an island (formerly owned by the Maharaja of Travancore, now converted to the Lake Palace Hotel. I took some photos of nearby elephants -which live snf cavort here by the hundreds, while missing out on tigers limited to several dozen. Our boatman and Cleetus discussed the mating habits of elephants. I had read once that they first dig a pit, but had been astonished a few years ago seeing two elephants in a Dutch Zoo actually mating on-the-run by 08:00 a.m., to the embarrassment of my wife...



We returned at 10:30 and saw the German tourist blonde in the act of putting on her shorts to the dismay of Wildlife Preservation Officer Mr. Abraham Vargis. We then took a 4 km hike through the teak forest (Tectona grandis) characterized by 25 cm large simple leaves We passed along attractive bamboo houses or huts and talked with some of the attractive original native "Mannans". Upon our return to the hotel, there was no ice, but we were served coffee, omelettes and chapati, a type of coconut-meal pancake..
I took one shower before we took a short walk through the village with numerous small shops and visited a shy Tamil girl who poured us beer, and another after that, around 14:30 when I also settled the account: R 31. We met a Frenchman and his two girlfriends who had been "on the road" several months but still complained about the heat - strange, because while he did, it was lovely cool after a short rain fall.. No one appeared to know about the schedule of the bus to Quillon, so we took "potluck" and went to the bus station where we only waited a short while to get two places in the back of the bus (close to the proverbial woman vomiting bench).
This bus made death defying but memorable haste down the mountain tea plantations crisscrossed by footpaths patterned not unlike the head of a negro girl. We saw rubber trees growing on slopes that appeard as steep as 60 degrees with diagonal cuts ending at small cocos "cups" - although some plastic was visible covering the lower parts of the drip channel. We heard cicadas and crows, passed quarries, temples and churches and even a Catholic-Syrian Bank! Our fellow passengers were busy talking the tight-sounding Malayalam language and appeared very congenial, except for the poor car-sick female souls near the back.People ate and slept and kept putting rainshield up and down with every downpouring. At a stop, Cleetus bought us some nuts, mandarins (R1 each) and some ginger candy. I tried but gave up smoking a pipe. Fast impressions of rivers with boulders and women wearing and/or washing colorful saries or bathing, bullocks, cows grazing on what looked like roof below in the valley, ripped off pieces of clouds floating past, and then a short stop at the Kolayalam Terminal around 19:30 for a toddy and some fried fish, before pushing on through the dark and crowded roads and villages to the final destination: Quillon, at 23:00 where we put up in the top conference room of some President hotel (?) ,

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