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Curry in a Hurry The plan for this trip is like this... 3 or 4 days in Dubai, then another week in Oman, then I fly into Bangalore, India. The main goal of this trip is in Mysore, India, where I'm going to spend a month doing yoga and learning Sanskrit :-) Then when I'm bendy enough, I'm going to the West Coast of India, through Kerala, Hampi, up to Goa for a while, and then to Bombay for a few days of shopping. I leave Bombay and fly back to Canada via London, where I'm stopping off for a few days to see some friends. I'm going to try and update this site as much as I can, but if I have to use dial-up I'll go crazy! I'll try to make friends with people who have broadband :-)

Tibetan settlements, Ooty

INDIA | Tuesday, 6 February 2007 | Views [2307]

NB:  I wrote this originally on Saturday - after typing for 30 minutes straight, the power went out and I thought it was lost forever...  But I went back later and since I had used Word, autorecover kicked in!  Yay!

I’ve been in India for almost a month now and I’m really enjoying it.  On Monday, I start more yoga classes – from 8:30 to 10, then I continue in the afternoon from 5 to 7.  I figure I may as well make the most of it while I’m here!

I did a couple side trips from Mysore.

One was to some Tibetan refugee settlements nearby.  We hired a car for the day and saw the most amazing temple ever.  The Lonely Planet describes it as “awe inspiring” and it really was.  There were 3 60 foot high gold Buddhas in the main temple, as well as 20 by 20 foot paintings all over the walls, at least 15 of them.  Nearby was a monastery which houses 5000 monks, so every where you turn you saw them.  It was like being outside of India for a day.  The monks are pretty modern though - they have scooters and cell phones.

This weekend I went to Ooty, a hill station about 5 hours away.  When I got there, I rented a scooter for a few hours and just drove around up and down the hills.  I’m definitely getting one in Mysore now – it gives you so much freedom, and they’re cheap, and they’re pretty safe because you go so slow and Indians are good at avoiding others.

The first day in Ooty I did a trek through the hills with a group of about 10 people, and a  really good guide.  We did about 15 km up and down the tea plantation hills and through some tribal villages – one was called Noda, another called Kota.  The weather in Ooty is really cold at night, people wear toques and blankets but during the day it still got really hot.  The first night in my guest house I asked for an extra blanket because it probably was near 5 degrees.  I was also really excited because my room had a TV which I haven’t watched in a long time – I even saw a Simpsons epidose that I’ve never seen.  That probably sounds a little shallow but you can only read books and shop and walk around for so long…  The second night though we had no power, so they gave me two candles and I took a sleeping pill and went to sleep.

The second day in Ooty was probably my favorite day so far in India.  When I was looking for my guesthouse, I asked someone who told me where it was and then he told me about a festival that I should go to.  It was the Nilgiri Tea festival and it was my favorite day in India so far.  We took a train from Ooty to Conoor.  The "festival" compartment had about 10 foreigners, 30 Indian tourists, and about 20 journalists (and the minister of development for Tamil Nadu who asked me to please send more Canadians :-)

After the train left Ooty station, the singing and dancing began - I've been taking short video clips and I'll try to find a way to put them on this site.  The dancing, singing, clapping was so amazing and fantastic, and it went on for an hour.  They tried very hard to make me sing, but being shy I said no.  From Conoor we took a bus to a tea plantation, had a traditional lunch wrapped in a banana leaf, then took another bus to a tea processing factory where we were given a tour and shown the entire process.  Very neat.  That night at 6:30 I took a mini but back to Mysore - which was quicker than the longer govt buses because we took a short cut that included 36 labeled hair pin turns.  Ooty was fantastic, and a nice little break from Mysore.

Just had my teeth cleaned by a nice Indian dentist, I've also learned how to ride a scooter with some degree of confidence - Indian drivers are good at avoiding things (like cows, sheep, and foreigners on bikes) and I wear a helmet and I have insurance so I'm not worried.

There's apparently some strikes happening for a few days now, I think the trains have stopped, it's all in protest of a water divertment dispute that is going to send water from this state to a neighboring one.  Can't really say if affects me much though.

All is good, miss you all though and especially my huge comfortable bed.

Bye!  Sonja

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