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Warm enough

15 January 2008 4 comments

India, Day 37 – Thiruvanathapuram

After a brief session on the internet this morning – curtailed by needing the toilet – I set off walking along Trivandrum’s Mahatma Gandhi Road (everywhere seems to have one – much like every British town has a Victoria Road, and/or Square, and/or Park) looking partly for a coffee shop, partly for anything interesting. I didn’t find any nice, air conditioned, Western-style restaurants of any kind, but did pass various smart old-ish buildings.

Mosque and Cathedral

At the northern end of the city centre is a large park containing the zoo, a couple of museums, a gallery. After stopping in a restaurant for orange juice, tea and parotta (naan, essentially) I decided to head into the zoo, although I was hot and tired and disappointed that I hadn’t found a CafĂ© Coffee Day or something similar.

Spectacled Cayman

I bought a camera ticket for 25 rupees, and when I went round to the entrance was asked for my ticket. Not my camera ticket, my person ticket, which, obviously, I didn’t have. So I went back to the ticket office and bought one for 10 rs.

Hippopotamus

The zoo was OK. Apparently it’s pretty decent by Indian standards, but I haven’t been to zoos much anywhere. Typically, some enclosures were empty and a bit run-down. The large birds – herons, pelicans, vultures, hawks – looked miserable in their cages. The monkeys, African plains animals had a fair amount of space with grass and trees to give the illusion of a natural environment. The most impressive animals were the big cats – jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers (they smell very doggy, too). One tiger was in a cage and had a pool about five feet across and 18 inches deep. As I got there it climbed in for a cooling bath. Shortly afterwards it got out to eat and kept slipping on the concrete floor.

Tiger Bath

The zoo paths were shaded by trees, but back in the park the heat was getting on for the temperature known as oppressive. Almost not wanting to, I went into the Napier Museum (5 rs). It had a nice collection of Hindu, Buddhist and a few Christian artefacts. More importantly it was cool.

Napier Museum

After that I was fed up with exploring, so I got an autorickshaw to the station. From there it’s a short walk to my hotel. I stopped at Indian Coffee House. Bit of a strange place – it’s a spiral building, with the floors on a fairly steep gradient; the waiters wear white suits and fancy turbans. I had a tea and my first masala dosa (a crepe-like thing with a filling of purple potatoes and side dishes of hot sauce and some sort of coconutty stuff).

So I’m feeling a little down at the moment, but nothing desperate. I had a busy time in Goa, so I’d like to relax a little – and the heat doesn’t favour going out and doing stuff.

To Thiruvananthapuram

15 January 2008 Leave a comment

India, Day 36 – Thiruvananthapuram

The train down to Kerala seemed to take a long time, trundling through the countryside at 20 or 30 mph. But after a day spent reading and dozing and with the train becoming less and less populated, we arrived in the state capital at around six o’clock.

I looked for an autorickshaw outside the station. The one driver I asked didn’t know the hotel I’d decided to try to get a room at. Then there was a longish line of people at the autorickshaw booth, and, to be honest, I don’t really know whether you’re supposed to go to the kiosk first or just get on a rickshaw; I’ve always done the latter. Anyway, the hotel, Homeland, seemed pretty close from the map in Lonely Planet, so I walked.

When checking in, I was told I had to bring them a photocopy of my passport and visa, but it wasn’t so important that I couldn’t enter without it. The room I took is a non-AC single for 350 rupees a night. The non-AC could have been a mistake, but last night, while very warm, wasn’t unbearable. The ants are another matter. I’ve been using my insect repellant on various parts of the room – door, wall, window, bed – and the ants (two types of them) are much less in evidence. If they come back I should probably ask for another room, but I probably won’t.

It turns out I have a little less time in Kerala than I’d thought. My train to Mumbai is at 8:10 on the 19th, so I have four days to see whatever there is to be seen here. I’d been considering trips to Kollam and Neyyar Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary, but with various things to do in Thiruvananthapuram I may not bother.