Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving on to the Tharavadu Heritage homestay

another temple
Sunset in the backwaters

G'day all and thanks to my friends who have let D know they are following the blog. Tidda.
They are now further south after the visit to the beautiful Periyar rainforest district and the wildlife reserve which they say has 78 tigers (didn't see any) 1000 elephants, bison, saw them, deer, water birds, (they had a cruise on the lake)  G and D were complaining as everyone was made to wear the very bulky safety vests and then they were jammed into small seats with three people to a bench.  Lucky their friend Joana from Portugal was the 3rd person.
Their friend Joana will leave them in Kottyam as she is attending a bio-medical and nano research conference there and will present a paper.  They all had such a laugh together they will miss her.
They stayed in a gorgeous small hotel called the Coffee Inn with marvellous sculptures all in clay, statuary of amazing animals, a wonderful courtyard backyard where they breakfasted before heading to the caost and an en route visit to the Connemara tea planation and learned the difference between camellia sinensis (chinese) and camellia assamica (indian) went tasting and through the tea factory. They are playing a lot of cards and G keeps winiing - gnashing teeth from D.
They went walking along the towpath beside the Tharavadu this morning and found a gorgeous little houseboat for 2 people called Ganga.  They decided to hire it and on Sunday will be off for four days through the backwaters and across the lake to the coast at Alleppey.  G's camera has died but the other one is fine so photographs are happening.  As soon as D can get onto her own computer she'll post some on the blog.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Munnar in the Tea Hills

MUNNAR Sept 18 – 22
WOW what a glorious place.  staying in a beautiful valley Aranyaka resort in the Tata tea plantation with an amazing Waterfall across on the other side which drops around 300-400m.  Really spectacular.  D says they  can see it across from the lovely cottage they are all sharing, and the sound of the rushing water is really lovely.  This resort is privately owned and not a multinational chain.  The owner was telling us that they grow all their own fruit and vegetables by organic principles, they have lovely gardens and have four gardeners working full time on the upkeep. The whole resort (very Small) is surrounded with tea plantations.  Yesterday the women pickers like bright flowers among the bushes, were all out in the hills and the Tata tractors are chugging around the gravel roads pulling mobile bins piled high with bags of leaf.
The black tea here is lovely, mellow and not heavy with tannins.
Joana PhD. is heading south to Kottayam for some kind of vet conference and is presenting a paper.  Unfortunately she is ill at present, probaby flu so is aching all over.  D and G are now glad they had flu shots (albeit unwilingly)before they left. G seems to be having a reaction to the shots and is possibly allergic to the town pollution, he is ill also.  It's a lay day today.
On the way to Munnar the driver recommended a stop at an elephant sanctuary on the banks of the Periyar River, (the largest in India) everyone was very excited about this, until they got there and were extremely saddened to see the large female elephant chained to a tree a few hundred metres away a large bull elephant similarly chained.  3 babies aged around 5 months each (orphans from the wild – like us) all also chained.  One baby was like Opal and very sooky when the handler was chivvying him along he got all upset and put his trunk into a knot across itself and looked all unhappy.  Just like Opal when she sucks her grooming claw.
D felt really sad and couldn't get away fast enough.
Munnar town is chaotic with auto rickshaws, taxis, cars little trucks, buses and people sharing a narrow windy main street, with potholes, mud and slush.  Shops selling handmade chocolates, D was really keen until she noticed the shop assistant using his ungloved hands to break up pieces and put them in bags.  She totally lost interest after that.
Because of the amount of water falls and rivers in these mountains there are many hydro power schemes.  5 or 6 dams, two of which were british built and curving a bit like Mundaring in WA.  Millions of Indian tourists everywhere not many internationals.  Heaps of he Indians are school kids on excursions, they kept rushing up and asking could they have their photo taken with D and G, very curious habit indeed. Pictures with 2 old gey hairs. One even called D aunty!!
Tomorrow th crew head off for Periyar-Kummily and the wild life reserve, en route to Kotayam on Thursday and the lakes and backwaters of Kerala.

Fort Cochi

After 4 delightful days in Georgetown, Penang, Air Asia called and they answerd the call.  On Saturday the 11th D and G headed off to Fort Cochi in Kerala, India.  It was a real surprise when they walked out of the Cochin airport and D got her first sight of men walking around, standing, chatting etc AND THEY WERE WEARING NAPPIES!!!!  G had to tell her to stop sniggering and even staring.  Mind you Indians don't mind having a good old stare and even a comment.
A fellow passenger on the flight mentioned that in Kerala there are no Indians – only chiefs! The flight was late leeaving by one hour, but the plane wasn't full and was almost new, lovely leather seats and very comfy. 2.5 hours time difference from KL and 4 hours flying time.  The airport is 35km from town so a taxi was taken over the most chaotic roads, travelling no faster than 50 – 60 km per hour.  Crazy stuff.  the homestay is charming and clean and great value for $30 per night, large roomy and a nice big bathroom.  Situated in a lovely quiet leafy road, on the northern side of the town and opposite the Naval museum  The house is overhung by enormous rain trees with huge branches supporting coloniess of orchids, ferns and mosses.  Cheeky little squirrels bounding around in the branches (perhaps introduced english squirrels), grey headed ravens, presently nest building. Soaring on the updrafts above all this are regularly seen two species of raptor.  One is the white headed sea eagle which has passed by on a couple of occasions with an eel dangling from its beak. Also a black kite like raptor.
The food here is many and varied with great flavours.  Kerala red rice is a fat white creamy grain with a red stripe through it. Also seen is a long grain white which is much longer than anything in Oz about 15mm G asserts.  Haven't had any tum problems so far.  The weather is hot and steamy and rains heaps – BUT it is green and lush.  Heaps of waterways, all very polluted unfortunately, also lots of water hyacinth drifting out to sea. The mighty plastic bag is everywhere, sadly, and the locals don't mind dumping their rubbish wherever they feel like.
This last few days has been one of exploration, catching ferries across to the citty 2 rupees for a 20 min trip.  40 rupes to the $$.  Visits to Mattancherry (old Jew Town), peering in at the very old Dutch cemetery, Mattancherry Palace museum and portraits of the old Indian royals.  D discovered that on the day she was born the Indian parliament passed legislation named Quit India to go for removal of the british and other foreign powers and go for independence. Quite an auspicious day all round!!
The Keralans are sure overdone with religion.  Mainly RC with many churches, basillica, etc, to say nothing of mosques, temples, religious schools and mother theresa statues encased in glass with the woman herself in full cement drag and looking pinker and plumper than she ever did in real life.
We the Joeys hear that the days in Fort Cochi are coming to an end and d and G are heading off with a woman vet from Portugal named Joana, to the old british hill station town of Munnar about 60 kms and 5 hours away.  The weather is cool and clear there and the area is famous for its tea plantations.  Great photography area.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tidda here reporting in - We the poor little neglected juveniles have discovered that our main carers have nicked off. Thien and Jenny have been valiantly trying to care for us, but we are spooky and hop away a lot of the time.
We hear they've gone to India – of all the cheek!
They went last week flew out of Coolangatta to Malaysia and had four days in Penang in Georgetown, a reminiscence for G and a new experience for D.  Gorgetown was a delight and the accommodation recommended by Madelaine at Hutton Lodge was really excellent. A lovely old house built in the late 1890's and within the old city, which is now UNESCO heritage listed. Such a delight to be in a hasslefree city, very cruisy and a good intro back into Asia.
Whilst there, visits to the glorious butterfly farm, at Batu Ferringhi butterflys of every hue fluttering around and the gorgeous big fat multi-coloured caterpillars, and a cruise through G's old stamping grounds from his hippy days in the mid 70's.  Some of which is now a National Park.  Travelling along the road from Penang was often reminiscent of the coast road from Cairns to Port Douglas. Ocean views and waterfalls with lush greenery and unfortunately the evergrowing presence of Resorts and high rise.
Another day there was a visit out to the Penang Botanical Gardens an arduous trip which took forever, BUT we saw the G hotel!!!  Then discovered by taking a taxi back that the trip was in fact only about 20 minutes. Unfortunately for D as soon as they arrived she was confronted by groups of rhesus monkeys which are fed by the visitors, STUPID IDEA.  She didn't notice a big male near a tree and nearly stomped on him, until he leapt out snarling.  Wow did she squeal and bolt.  She likes to keep monkeys at a long distance and preferably not at all.
Because it was still Ramadan, buying lunch was a bit tricky.  Another discovery was a beautiful newly renovated hotel which had been a rich folks residence now called Yengken.  It'sworth a look at its website  Anyone feeling flush with $$$$$'s would do well to book in there.  G had an ecstatic tile moment and rushed about taking pictures of the tiles.
Penang has a free CAT bus so that was well used.  Mainly, shanks ponies were the mode of transport.
D's usb portable modem worked well in Malaysia, and Hutton Lodge, had free wifi which also worked.
Had some lovely meals in the evenings.  Visited a stunning art gallery that was a converted Chinese Clan house, very atmospheric with beautiful woodwork dark and atmospheric with a sliding opening roof.  In some ways reminiscent of the beautiful old houses in the walled cities of Morocco. The contemporary art on display was pretty good too.
Spent a frustrating hour trying to post an art magazine home.  Snail mail has sure changed.
Saturday 11th.  We hear they have gone to Cochin, Kerala in India. We'll keep you informed of what they are up to.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Family history

We are a small mob of eastern grey kangaroo orphans from the Macleay Valley.  Our mob boss is Tidda, which means sister in the local koori language. I came from Hat Head, a surfer chick?? We used to be the Famous Five but our big brother Clyde (from Clybucca) who is now about 20 kg so therefore he is now a kanga teenager, left and joined the local big mob nearby.  He hangs out with the otger teenage boys and practises kicking and pushing etc.  This is good practice for when they are big roos. 
Others in the mob are Tamba a female she is named for the Tamban forest at our backdoor.  Her mum was killed on Ridge road and a kind local rescued her when she weighed 3kg. 
Opal, is a little backward as she had a bad start, broken bone in foot, (which a kind RSPCA vet repaired) she is fine now but she seems to be a bit of a rubt.  We still love her even if she is sooky. 
The only male juvenile is Klim, we're not sure where his mum came to grief, but he's a very friendly chap and a great lookout kanga.