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Archive for May, 2010

Two things made me not want to go to this theme park just outside Bangalore.  The first was – why didn’t the just add the two letters and make la into land.  The other was a thing on the internet that said ‘this theme park has the lowest rate of mortality of any theme park in India’.

Oh well.  We set of anyway and after a mission involving 2 buses and a rickshaw we got there paid our money and went in.  The place was spotless clean, staff welcoming. Wasn’t going to bad so far.  But we forgot one important factor – people in India don’t know how to queue.  So after beating our way to a position in the queue where nobody could push in front of us we waited, and waited.  The ride had stopped.  No reason why just break time I think.  Eventually we got on the log flume we were waiting on, went to the top and came back down again, and that was it.

We tried a rollercoaster ride which was rubbish, then tried to go on the dodgems, but women and men aren’t allowed to mix on it.  Finally we tried one more ride only to be waiting in the queue when it broke down full with people.

So we decided to give up on the rides and go to the water park area.  Surely this couldn’t be bad.  First of all we went to the rain disco which was cool for about five minutes, then the wave pool which was like swimming in soup.

Next the waterslides – one of my favourite things in the world, simple, easy to run, surely this would be OK.  Not to be though, I should have known.  In fact we probably shouldn’t have bothered at all.  We queued and queued but it was so slow.  Few people had ever seen a waterslide before so were having to get instructions on how to go down.  All the women had full saris or salwaars on so had to have a foam thing tied round them.  It was ridiculous.  We didn’t get on one slide.  We went to a water park and didn’t get on one slide.  I still can’t get my head round it.

Moral of this story: when in India, stick to the temples.

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The Holy Cows of Mysore

You get used to seeing cows everywhere in India – temples, city centres, bus and railway stations, in the middle of busy roads.  And I have to say I find them quite fascinating.  The just hang out, look a bit melancholy and pretty much ignore what’s going on around them.

I’m sure everybody looks at these cows and thinks it must be terrible for them, having to eat all this rubbish when they could be in a nice green field munching on grass.  But eating grass uses a lot of energy – and a lot of stomachs and there’s very little nutritional value.  How much easier it is to digest the fruit and veg that we don’t want.

In Mysore the cows have got it really sorted, just hang about the Devaraja market and eat all the stuff that isn’t good enough for sale.  And I’m not talking about rotten fruit.  The average market throws away tons of perfectly good food every day, just because it doesn’t look quite right.  If it doesn’t people won’t buy it.

But it doesn’t stop there, the cows beg.  They stand in front of a vendor till he gives in and hands over some food.  Or sometimes even a restaurant or shop.  You see this elsewhere but the Mysore cows seem to have the edge over the others.

The people provide for the cows because they see the cows as representing Nandi the bull, Shiva’s vehicle.  Cows get food, people get good karma.  Everybody’s happy.

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Mmmmmmmm!

Fried mutton blood and chilli- A speciality of Mysore

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I was really looking forward to visiting Ooty – A few cool and peaceful days in the mountains after the hot plains of Tamil Nadu. In reality we got a dirty overcrowded smelly shithole, with a large open sewer running through the middle.  Straight away I’m thinking how am I going to stay here longer than a night.

But we did stay longer than a night and we kind of managed to get used to the smell and pollution.  And I wouldn’t say it was all bad, we managed a couple of things to fill up the days – and ate a couple of nice meals.

The first full day of our visit trip was day 9 of the Of the Ooty horse races.  I expected it to be a little busier being the high season for Indian tourists, but we had the place to ourselves and a few gamblers hanging round the turf accountants desks. Right in the middle is a great big piece of grass to sit on and cheer on the horses.  A few of the locals took us under their wings and advised us which horses were going to win, none of which came in.  In fact we had better luck just guessing or picking a name that sounded good.

The weird thing was the bookies would stop taking bets on a horse in each race just after betting began and 8 times out of 9 this horse won.  We have favourites in the UK and if the betting gets too high sometimes the might stop taking bets but this just seemed like blatant race fixing.  No wonder there is such a big issue about this happening in the IPL.

Next was a trek into the surrounding hills, where finally we managed to get away from the piles of rat infested rubbish – seriously if anybody ever tells me London is dirty again…..  Anyway the hills were beautiful and green and very similar to the hills where I’m from in Scotland.  They just keep rolling off into the distance to the borders of Kerala and Karnataka.  We visited a Toda home where they showed us their wedding album and made us some buffalo milk coffee.  They told us that in their culture they don’t get married until the first baby arrives.  I’m not sure who this benefits, I doubt the men want to marry if there is a miscarriage or maybe even if it’s a girl, but who am I to judge their culture.

We finished up the walk visiting some waterfalls and a dam, where we had a great thali for lunch with unlimited chapattis and a fiery hot fried cabbage dish.  Then we took the bus back down to Ooty for some well earned rest.

On our last day we took a trip down to Coonoor on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.  Just as we get onto the platform Andrea realises she’s lost the ticket and has to run back to the hotel too look for it, but its not there.  The conductor doesn’t seem to care though and after checking our names against his sheet sends us to our seats.  The journey itself isn’t that spectacular, I’m sure going down past Coonoor it’s more dramatic, and it’s ruined by a load of English kids singing songs about Jesus.

Coonoor isn’t much better than Ooty, another manky town full of rubbish and a dirty market.  We do an Auto tour to see a tea plantation and a nice view point out over the plains.  But it’s all a bit underwhelming and really I’m glad to get back on the train.

And speaking of underwhelming, we visit possible the worst attempt at a theme park in all of world – Jollyland!  Nothing jolly about this place, in fact nothing even to write about.  My only consolation is it cost Rp5, exactly what it was worth.

It was hard trying to find things to like about Ooty.  Sure the scenery and the climate are nice, but I found Munnar and Kumily much more pleasant places to visit and you can do everything there you can in Ooty with the exception of Railway and Races. It wasn’t so bad but after looking forward to it so much I feel a bit let down.  Still you can’t like everything.

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