Wednesday, January 07, 2009

India Holiday - Tuesday 30 December – Valparai to Kumarakom

Tuesday morning we were ready 15 minutes early so time for a coffee before we headed off. The road was mostly very rough track so progress was halting but we did travel through some pristine forest and got to see Barking Deer and Emerald Doves on the road. We also stopped at a viewpoint over a large reservoir, which was stunning:














The drive to Water Scapes (http://www.ktdc.com/WaterScapes.htm), our destination in Kumarakom turned out to be much longer than anticipated due to the very rough road down from the hills and a large stretch through the busy outskirts of Kochi - a little over six hours in fact. We were all very tired by the end and Praveen, now replete with a head-cold, had another 1.5 hours to get home after dropping us off at our resort; still, he now has three days off.

The resort consists of individual wooden huts on stilts, designed for the Indian tourist, which means everything you need at less than half the price of a resort designed for Europeans:














The whole estate is on wetlands, so the huts are on islands with canals and bridges in between. Once we’d found our feet, we only had time for a quick walk to the bird sanctuary on the grounds, where we saw and photographed our first female Asian Koel, eating coffee beans:



















and then down to the lake front to watch the large flocks of Gull-billed Terns swooping over the resort then down to the water’s surface and out across the lake. Also overhead large flocks of Indian Cormorants heading to roost were joined by a single flock of circling, calling Bee-eaters, a near non-stop procession of Brahminy Kites and Black Kites with one in particular flying directly over us, which was excellent, even in the half-light of dusk:













The sunset over the lake was beautiful:














we were soon joined at our vantage point on the pontoon by a number of the other guests of Water Scapes to watch the sun descend below the horizon. We then sat on our balcony for a while watching at least two, probably more, types of bats - smaller ones the size of blackbirds zooming around the huts catching insects and much bigger ones the size of large crows flying overhead.

The last light of day faded, what to do? They have a bar here... :) ... but it’s closed!! Apparently the state government strictly controls alcohol sale and consumption, so the only places where you can buy more than beer are the big hotels catering to foreigners, as otherwise the license is just too expensive. Best try and find a wine shop tomorrow as well as the government shop we have planned then, can’t have a dry New Year’s Eve!

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