Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day hangover (in a manner of speaking)

I have to admit my time here is running down when even an attempted trip to a vaunted bird reserve was a bit of a disappointment. I set up a rickshaw and got up early for the purpose, trundled through various towns along the road south then turned off into some scrub. At the checkpoint was a scruffy little zoo (a few cages: a snake, a small crocodile and some mangy looking deer) and then off to find "Treetops". Eventually found, it turned out to be a minor version of the Western Australia's Gloucester Tree [elevated lookout tower reached via a spiral of hefty spikes driven into the trunk of the tallest tree around], only with metal steps and not half as high, therefore dwarfed by surrounding trees.  Alone at the top I could detect not a bird in sight or to be heard.  It didn't help that an Indian family with three noisy children coincided with my visit.  I heard some birdsong on the way there and back to the road but only saw ... a spider!  It might have been better if I'd gone on a scooter when I could have explored at my own speed but, with a rickshaw driver counting time as money, there was little hope of that.  Today's man won the record for being unable to respond facially (smile? forget it!) away from a dogged scowl. C'mon! You set the price, didn't you? [PS Got the same man for the run to the rail station!]

It's getting time to move on. I think I'll head gradually south tomorrow to or towards Mangalore, maybe stopping short at Udupi. There's an afternoon passenger train that should be a gentle run. My aim is then to head into the hills between the coast and Mysore and find some more tangible wildlife before going down into Tamil Nadu and some temple towns and the Hindu side of life. It's been rather Christian so far.

Inland from Mangalore is the area known as Coorg/Kodagu, which I remember from Dervla Murphy's On a Shoestring to Coorg: an Experience of South India  but have never been there.  A little further south is a group of reserves in the Nilgiri Hills, some of which sound really promising.  I really need to push on to places I've never been: Kochi and Agonda were both Old Ground!

Not sure when the next blog will be but I'll wait until I have something uplifting to report. Meantime, mustn't grumble, there's beachcombing to be done and a beautiful long beach to do it on!


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