21 – 22 June
After a pretty quiet time in Mysore, we decided to make tracks for the hills…Ooty. Ooty is a hill station 2,200m above sea level in Southern India (Tamil Nadu state), we’d been recommended this place by Nihar so thought it was worth a go – Nihar seems to know what he’s talking about!! We got aboard a minivan in Mysore, threw our bags on the roof and we were off with a dozen other Indian people to Ooty. The drive took 4 hours and passed through a national park that houses tigers and elephants (although we didn’t see any tigers…we did see elephants and monkeys). The driver did have an annoying tendency to pick up stragglers on the way – clearly trying to make himself a few extra bucks but squashing us in at the same time. It wasn’t until one of the passengers, that we’d been talking to, told the driver to quit stopping that a good argument broke out…without coming to blows (although close), we made it through to Ooty with no additional passengers added!
On arrival the first thing we did was put on jerseys!Ooty, being so high up gets bloody cold and we’d stepped out into 12 degrees in t-shirts and shorts – not our smartest work! Ooty is surrounded by hills, kind of like a valley – the hills are green and many have on them plantations from tea to herbs; with the greenery and the chilly temperature, Ooty had a great alpine/almost NZ feel to it. It’s a small town that receives a lot of tourists (both Indian and foreign) wanting to trek in the hills. Unfortunately we weren’t equipped for trekking nor did we have much time so settled for exploring the town and eating our way around the place!
We decided to check out of our first nights accommodation, due to the beds being pretty damp (cold conditions) – not ideal getting healthy conditions. So we heaved our packs onto our backs and started a walk through the back of town to find some new accommodation. We found some modern apartment style accommodation, which had TV’s with Soccer World Cup in the room (a pre-requisite) and checked in there. We were right in town so headed out to grab some breakfast/lunch, we hit up a restaurant called Kabab Corner, not actually a kebab shop, but they served some awesome curry – I opted for the Hyderabadi Mutton curry with Naan and Kulcha breads, amazing stuff! Luckily for us Ooty is loaded with bakeries pumping out fresh biscuits, home-made chocolates and funnily enough, lamingtons. So suffice to say we couldn’t help ourselves, we went to town on a lamnington and some home made chocolate – bloody tasty and obviously cheap as chips!
In fact, now I look back, we pretty much just at and drank in Ooty! We found a cafe that served up Lavazza espresso so visited that spot a few times to get out caffiene hit – certainly no Peoples flat white from Moore Wilson’s, but not a bad attempt by the lads at Barista! Our evening meal was down in the heart of Ooty at Charing Cross (very Indian name!!), we were the only white guys in the restaurant (like most places) but the hosts were very inviting and told us that we can go up the front and watch the boys prepare and cook the Naan – quite a cool experience and they tasted awesome!
We left Ooty the next morningpretty early on a minivan, arriving in Mysore around midday and then by chance we managed to transfer from the minivan to the bus station via rickshaw, ask someone where a bus to Bangalore left from – get on a nice bus and we were moving again in 5 minutes to Bangalore. Wilson and I were quite happy with ourselves pretending like we knew what we were doing timing it so well; but clearly we’d just struck it lucky.
We were looking forward to getting back to Bangalore as Rosemary and Chris, Nihar’s parents, had invited us to stay with them the night in their upstairs apartment! Ooty had been a great spot to relax, enjoy a cooler climate and generally eat far too much. It was nice to almost get a feeling of NZ before we started our movement north!