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South India Adventure :: Traveling from Alleppey to Kumily (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary)

in travel •  7 months ago

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Bus Strikes

On my 7th day in India, I travelled from Alleppey to Kumily, the town that caters to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary with bison, sambar, wild boar, langur, elephants, and tigers.

I went to sleep the night before unsure of whether or not I’d be able to make it to Kumily the next day. The petrol prices had just risen, and in response almost all rickshaw and bus drivers were on strike. No buses were running, and I met a couple at my homestay who had to take an expensive cab from Kumily to Alleppey in order to make it for their flight the next day. No one knew how long the strike would last, though most guessed that it would only go for a day. Upon waking up, I walked to the bus station to check the status of the strike. It was over and the bus drivers were all working. I went to the station master and asked what time the next bus to Kumily left, and he told me 9am. I ran back to my homestay, packed my bags, and got to the bus station at 8:45. I asked another station worker where the bus to Kumily was, and he looked at me confused and told me that the next bus wasn’t until 1pm and there was a 9am bus to Munnar but not Kumily (Munnar is about 5 hours from Kumily but equally touristic, so the first guy must have just assumed that I was asking for Munnar?).

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Alternative Route - Ferry Ride from Alleppey to Kottayam

Not wanting to wait until 1pm, I walked to the ferry station and waited for the 9:30 ferry to Kottayam (19 INR), where buses to Kumily run every 30 minutes. The ferry came, we piled on, and then they told us to get off and that the 9:30 ferry service wasn’t running. We got off and waited. I saw one of the ferries come and turn around by a man taking a long bamboo stick that touched the bottom of the canal, and using that bamboo stick to push the ferry to face the other side (photo below). It reminded me of the cable car turn around in San Francisco. Anyways, after waiting for an hour, the same ferry that originally told us to get off shouted “Kottayam” and people rushed on. We embarked for a 2 hour journey through the backwaters.

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Upon arriving in Kottayam, I split a taxi with a German couple to the bus station (120 INR total, 40 INR/person). Our taxi driver recommended an incredible restaurant, which I forgot to write down the name of, but it was the best meal I’ve had in India so far. It’s called “hotel” something or another, is air-conditioned (this is rare), and is right across the street from the bus station. I got their lunch time thali, which is a pre-set menu of rice, papadams, and whatever chutneys and veggie dishes they have premade (110 INR). In the other thalis that I’ve had, there are usually around 4-5 side dishes to accompany the rice. In this thali, there were 11, and they were all delicious.

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Bus from Kottayam to Kumily & Personal Space

After lunch, we crossed the street to the bus station and hopped on the next bus to Kumily (74 INR). The bus ride was 4 hours long, full of stops, windy roads, steep mountain passes, and lots of hectic mountain towns. We were heading up the Western Ghats! The bus was pretty packed, as people hopped on every 10 or so minutes. It was three people per seat-bench, and the seat material was very slippery. Every time the bus made a sharp turn (which was very frequently), everyone would play “jello” and slide into each other’s laps. It was pretty entertaining as well as nauseating. At one point a woman sat next to me and put her baby in my lap while she was getting situated. Another time, a woman sat down and put her bag in my lap for a while. I saw multiple school girls hop on and give their bags to people sitting down in order to allow more people to get on the bus. Personal space in India is so different from personal space in the West. However, this was not new to me since I’ve spent so much time in China.

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Serendipity

The bus ride offered some beautiful views of the mountains and, closer to Kumily, of tea plantations. After arriving in Kumily, I hopped off the bus without a place to go, planning to find a homestay by walking around. I originally really wanted to stay at Green View Homestay, as recommended in Lonely Planet, but they were all booked up online. Within two minutes a man approached me asking if I needed a homestay and said that he had a nice room at Green View. It was too perfect. Ramesh led me to Green View, got me situated, and then took me to the Ecotourism Center where you can book any of the activities in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. I booked the bamboo rafting and hiking. They didn’t have another opening for three days, so travelers beware, do not expect to be able to book for the next day during high season. He also got me situated with a full day tour and a cooking class (more on that tomorrow).

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Lessons learned for this day

  • Traveling in India always takes much longer than expected
  • Sometimes the longer and slower route is the more educational route
  • In a country where population density is the highest in the world, people learn how to live in close quarters with each other and the need for personal space is not as prevalent
  • Not having a plan was the best plan that I could make

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So nice to keep up with your travels, another great post! Glad to hear the bus strike turned out ok for you, sounds like a close call!

Nice country
Beautiful baby @anwenbaumeister

I am from Bihar (India) and your lesson is 100% fit for India

Sorry to say that in india u should aware of sexual assault . u didnt mention that whom u were enjoying the journey so i recommend u to have some man with u.May god bless u and keep u save from any kind of difficulties> sorry to say

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@mr4 sexual assault happens in every part of the world in different ways. Travelling in India does not mean you need a bodyguard. It is very safe and we do take care of the tourist in our country.

traveling a fun friend, I enjoy the scenery you share and it is very beautiful

Being the 2nd most populous nation in the world I must say, India is quite a handle of amazing places though I love my space however its not bad being too close to people

&#128294 exceptional & encouraging!

Hello @anwenbuameister, I am very happy on your journey to Kerala our wonderful and very beautiful place in India. This state knew as Garden of spices of India ( Cloves, Cardamom, Pepper, and Tea, Rupper, Coconut, Banana etc). There is a lot of natural scenes for your eyes sight but You have given here least photos only. Your opinion about India is correct.
Anyway, I am thank you for visiting India. ( I am not in living Kerala but am from Tamil Nadu (the neighbor State of Kerala.) I am following and upvoted you ( You are our guest). 'Welcome again' If you got any inconvenience, please ignore them. I am sorry.

'Munnar' also a wonderful tourist spot cum shooting area, I have visited there two or three times.

Nice n beatifull pic....
I like thiss...

Upvote @sherlie

A very nice trip and the beauty that exists is so beautiful I like the talk there is about the trip

It feels so cool the way you live the journey. Unpretentiously ... that's how I like to travel too!

hello @anwenbaumeister ..
five days you have not turned up I was worried about something bad going on in your visit to India.

But I like you reappearing with the writing about your journey.

I am waiting for the writing and photo photo about the wildlife park you are visiting.

I hope your trip is smooth and you can enjoy it.

Trust you enjoyed your journey to the fullest and India could give you a warm welcome @anwenbaumeister. Kerala is a very beautiful place also known as God's own country.
Yes travelling in India is at times adventurous in many ways but at the same time its fun and it brings forth many facets of life in front of you.

Sounds like a really nice journey. I have heard only good things about India. I have a friend who teaches yoga and she goes for a few months every year. I found you because of your vote on my post about style being important in art. Followed you, & thank you very much :)

It's so funny to see pancakes even in India! Are these pancakes made of rice? In Russia, where I live now is a holiday Carnival and we eat pancakes every day during the week. You have a great trip, wonderful photos. It's like I was there with you. Beautiful views of local life. And of course, as always, you look very nice and sincere. Thank you for the walk and interesting story.

Was one of my most enjoyable trips.. Cool country..

sunnguh, an amazing trip to india. There we can travel culture, culinary. I really want to go there. so far can only watch on television.

@anwenbaumeister also very similar artist india.hehe

I want to see India from close range through your post. therefore I am always happy to read the post @anwenbaumeister

Nice spirit :)

Wow it's was a nice story u wrote. Actually I have friend who want to visit India badly. So myb this post can help my friend next time when she visit india