Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Munar and Periyar

Still no pics. Sorry.We continued our stay in Munnar enjoying the excellent hospitality at Johns Guest House and took the promised trip out to Chinnar. Still in quest of elusive Elephants we drove through the magnificence of the Tea Plantations, direction Tamil Nadu. We passed through Chinnar intending to stop on the return leg. In Tamil Nadu we were promised the "2nd largest crocodile Sanctuary in Asia". Well if that is the 2nd I don't want to see the 3rd. Entry was 50 rias, that's half a rupee each, plus 25 rupees for a camera. We owned up to 1 camera and I kept mine in my pocket. The 2nd largest crocodile sanctuary in Asia consists of not quite a dozen concrete pens with up to a few sleeping reptiles in each. The spectacle is unedifying in the extreme. Apparently they only move when being fed and the rest of the time they are as immobile as the future handbags they represent. Back towards Chinnar and a quick Thali on a banana leaf in a truck stop. Good food, still no after effects. At the first ranger station in Chinnar we are told that there are no elephant about. At the second a similar story, but we decide to hire a guide for 2 hours and go for a walk in the jungle. He was a pleasant young man and full of jungle lore so we learnt quite a lot. We visited some ancient rock paintings and stood on a high rocky outcrop to survey the vast jungle. Still no elephant though. On the road back to Munnar, Hussain spotted a Nilgiri Martin crossing the road which was quite a sight. Then he spotted a troop of black faced monkeys feeding in the trees. I got out to photograph them but they soon crashed off through the branches. After our last night in Munnar we head for Periyar Wildelife Sanctuary. Once again Hussain is as good a tracker as he is driver and we see a Lynx cross the road and a 2 meter Rat Snake climbing the banking. The afternoon will be the highlight of our trip. After a considerable haggle, Angie organizes an elephant trek for us. Well actually it is for her and the kids, I watch and take pictures. I also benefit from a logging display paid for by a group of Germans. Then we get to wash the elephant. This is a very wet making affair and ends in the elephant shower which we naively imagine is us giving her, she is a 26 year old Keralan Elephant, a quick rinse with a hose pipe. Oh no. A volunteer is needed and Leonie is sent first. She climbs onto the kneeling elephants back who then sucks up about 30 litres of water and sprays it over her back and the unsuspecting Leonie. After 4 goes L has had enough and we then got the same treatment. This whole thing is quite contrived, but well worth it and we have whale (an elephant) of a time.
Reply to Hev. Q. Why Aardvark and Aubergine? A. My brother Simon always says when asked the question "what’s for tea Dad? Either Rat and Raspberry or Aardvark and Aubergine and they seem to make a good pair. That’s why I called the story at the start of the blog Aardvark and Aubergine go to India.

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