Saturday, 28 February 2015

The sweetness of Southern India circuit (Day 4 morning cont.) - On the way to Madurai - The 14th of February 2015


We stopped  by the road one more time before reaching Madurai, so as to watch three ladies making ropes out of coconut fibre in what I personally found to be a rather interesting traditional way of rolling the fibre along as if it were wool or any other material. Just before crossing the road to watch them I photographed a small Hindu temple, without doubt a rather small version of the ones we would be expected to visit in the Tamil Nadu area.

Upon reaching the outskirts of the town the air conditioning system on the bus failed (I thanked whoever I felt I had to thank for the temporary system failure once I had realised it was what had clearly  been aggravating my sore throat and responsible for my on-going cough).

Not long after the bus got a flat tyre, as we were entering the city and whilst Sagar was trying to have us board tuk-tuks in groups of three so as to get us to the hotel a city bus came by and offered us a ride. The bus looked filthy on the inside and wasn't comfortable at all (not visible in the pictures I took of the "adventurous ride") but what was worth remarking were the looks of the JC Residency hotel porters as the bus made its way onto its parking area to drop us off.

Before having headed to the hotel restaurant, close to the swimming-pool area we had time to quickly go up onto our rooms, which I found not only to be very comfortable but particularly well decorated. There was a rather unique painting close to my bedside table and I later realised there were quite a few interesting paintings spread around the corridors and halls in what was an inclusion of modernity onto a rather traditional architecture.



The sweetness of Southern India circuit (Day 4 morning) - Elephant ride at the National park of Periyar; on the way to Madurai - The 14th of February 2015

As I looked out of my hotel window in the morning I felt like walking down to the small church I could see from it and pray as a thanking gesture once I felt much better, despite still having a sore throat and bouts of coughing.

An elephant ride, which had been programmed for the previous day was carried out soon after breakfast and before we set off to Madurai. Although I had already been on an elephant ride during the Rajasthan circuit two years before I quite enjoyed this half an hour ride, namely because we (Christianne , Serge and myself) were sitting on the elephant's back and not on small side basket seats.

It was definitely more physically demanding as we had to open our legs widely and hold onto a  tiny handle firmly. The elephant's walking pace was naturally slow, which allowed us to admire the surrounding scenery, with quite  few men collecting elephants' poop to later dry and use as house construction material and domestic cooks' combustion (quite a sight I must confess as there seemed to be more kilos of poop than leaves on the trees of the forested area).
At the end of the ride the elephant's guide decided to treat us with an elephant trunk's "head massage" which was somehow similar to a vacuum-like ticking sort of sensation I had (obviously) never felt before. I couldn't help photographing Serge and Jackie's expressions as they had their own "massages".

The long 140 kilometre drive to Madurai forced us to stop several times on the way across both rural and non-rural areas, the first of which was close to a river bed surrounded by an incredible amount of filth, like I had only seen in the Northern part of India and where ironically people were washing their clothes and even their cars.

Green seemed to be the main colour that accompanied us as we drove along palm trees plantations and pasture and rice cultivated lands. From time to time a few white tombs and their crosses could be seen emerging from the grass along the road but green was still the imposing colour.

Somewhere prior to having a "technical stop" (as guides politely refer to those stops required for toilet use) we got off the bus and walked on a small bridge overlooking some small waterfalls where we could once more see people washing their clothes and (also) themselves. It is a sight I have been accustomed to in Africa but I still marvel at the way they beat the clothes onto the rocks. 

As we stopped at a road cafĂ© to have something to drink I opted to stay outside and look at the traffic, which was no longer a shock for me. An old man filled some plastic containers that he adapted to his bike and off he went riding along - what an easier way then the "on the head" system of water carrying so commonly used in Africa.

(To be continued)