Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Santa Cruz cathedral Fort Kochi

Chinese fishing nets Fort Kochi

Syrian orthodox church Fort Kochi

Hornbill camp Thekkady NP

the beauty of Munnar

Two forms of water transport....tourists and local

St Thomas church alongside the backwaters

Varkala beach
We are now back in Chennai despite turning up at the airport and finding our flight had been cancelled yesterday. We were quickly changed to another airline and flight one hour later on the same ticket ! Great service. We had already experienced a missing train at the station in Alleppey. Due to damage on the line the train was diverted so we had an exciting taxi drive in an old Ambassador to a station one hour away at which the train was arriving (albeit two hours later than promised) Fortunately we had a room booked in Varkala so when we finally got there at 10.30pm we were sorted, as they say.
It was even hotter in Varkala so our couple of days here were spent moving around slowly from one bit of shade to another and rehydrating ourselves from the refreshing range of fruit juices on offer. We also had the sea to jump around in. Exhilarating (Pete) scary (Cath) waves with strong currents so not recommended for swimming but good fun in the surf and warm water. There are a lot of Tibetan refugees trading along the cliff top and a great laid back atmosphere but beach culture rather than Indian. Good fish on display each night. We had an excellent fish baked in banana leaf one evening.

A few Keralan birds to round off the trip

A definite Nilgiri Flycatcher this time, a stunner beside the path

A Grey-breasted Laughingthrush, an endemic of the western Ghats that really does laugh

The adult Brown Fish Owl watching us as we passed close to the nesting tree

Adult Indian Pond Heron alongside the 'Backwaters'

The Black Kites here were of the 'Black-eared variety' like the one at Snettisheam a few years ago

Adult Brahminy Kite cruising along the cliff at Varkala

That's all, sunset over the Arabian Sea to finish until the next time

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Alleppey 3rd March

We were reluctant to leave Olive Brook and Munnar as it was such a beautiful location and we felt we hadn't explored the other activities around besides the birding ...but maybe a reason to return !
We are now in Alleppey staying at Pooppalleys homestay which is situated on the backwaters so we can sit and watch the various river traffic passing by. The home cooked Keralan food is very good and plentiful, the host thinks we don't eat enough but it is a struggle in the heat even though the food is so tasty. We have toured the waters by both small motor boat yesterday evening and also by travelling into town on the local ferry which has a request stop just by the homestay. 8 miles for 9p ....last of the big spenders !!!
As the books say everything happens along the river banks ..washing, bathing,fishing and food preparation so there is plenty going on all the time. We had an early morning walk and saw the children on their way to school by boat, bus and bicycles also plenty of birdlife.
The canals divide up the rice paddies which are alive with Pond Herons and all 4 types of Egret. The overhead wires have Kingfishers and Blue tailed Bee-eaters and the skies have wheeling Brahminy Kites to keep Pete occupied. There is also a bat colony in the homestay buildings and geckos to keep the mossies at bay. We have one more day here then onto Varkala for beach time ,probably either 8 in the morning or 5 at night ! The beach at Alleppey is very good and clean also the only place to get a cold beer....not that we're getting desperate.
Photos to follow when we can access WiFi again.