Friday, 12 November 2010

Ooty redeemed

Today was warm and sunny with blue sky and fluffy clouds, not the rain-filled gloom of yesterday, and the spirits have lifted.

Ooty in the rain is no fun, but in the sunshine is much better.

We hired a driver for the day and visited the lake - first engineered and laid 1860s (I think, it is very large and lined with mature trees. There are various boating opportunities, we saw a family inc. a lady in full veil taking a pedal boat out, also shops, horse rides, popcorn and some fair rides. It was quite busy, lots of school groups, in fact school groups wherever we've been today.

After this we went to the Thread Garden.

The signs outside the Thread Garden really talk it up as an 8th wonder of the world, the guide book down-plays it considerably, but as a spectacle of patience and slight weirdness it more than fulfills the brief. It's basically flowers made from canvas pieces tightly wound with fine thread. From a distance the effect is not bad, almost realistic, and it is hard to see how it is done.

During our visit there was an almighty shouting match, a girl was led away weeping, very much in the style of "leave it 'Shel, he ain't worth it", followed by a long phone call with much wiping of tears and sniffs. Fights are the same the world over...

Our driver then took us up to Dodabetta Peak, the highest point in S. India. The views are absolutely spectacular, stepped tea plantations, little villages, brightly coloured rooftops, mountains in the distance. It's a very beautiful place and it did go a very long way to soothing the way I feel about Ooty.

I think my expectations were for something that ceased decades ago, and that's not Ooty's fault, it's mine.

On the way back from the peak the stalls were being set up, including many selling orange or red snacks, on closer inspection these turned out to be bags of small carrots or radishes. Not the average food you'd expect at a major attraction.

On the road down we stopped at a tea factory and museum which was fascinating, the process is part mechanised - cutting, drying in huge tunnels, sorting into leaf or dust - but not the high shine of modern industry, just conveyor belts, warm air and steel cutters. The smell of leaf tea hangs in the air, the free sample is sweet and hot and the prices are ridiculously cheap by any standard - 100rs or £1.40 ish for half a kilo.

Next stop on this tour was the station to get tickets for the Nilgiri mountain Railway - the toy train that in 2005 was given UNESCO world heritage status. Our driver told us that today's train had been cancelled because of a landslide. We filled in the chitty and queued for tickets. Tomorrow's train is full, so we're going to have to stay our third night anyway and leave on Sunday. In a way I feel I owe it to Ooty and my heart doesn't sink, which it would have done yesterday.

However our planned route to Cochin has changed as the train is fully booked in 1st and 2nd and I am not ready for 3rd class yet - not for a 5 hour journey anyway. We will probably take a car.

Last stop of the day was the botanical gardens which are lovely. We were mobbed by a group of lads who wanted to be photographed with us. This has happened a few times and is most odd - I haven't been photographed so much since my wedding day!

Back at the hotel we have booked dinner and whatever is cooking smells delicious.

Ooty has redeemed herself - I don't love her as others have done but it's ok and I think we have reached an understanding.

1 comment:

  1. Glad things are looking up. I hope when you're back (and presumably have better internet access) you will post lots of pictures.