On safari

On safari
Mudumalai, India

Mudumalai, India


Breakfast this morning was provided by the homestay. They brought up a toaster with bread, a bowl of boiled eggs, idli (some bread dumplings for soaking up curry), a lentil curry and bananas. We then set off to our wildlife stay in Mudumulai in our bus. We stopped at a tea plantation, and a factory outlet to get some green and black tea. At our lunch stop, the CEO told us the hotel we had planned to stay had had some electrical problems and only 3 rooms were ready, so we had to switch to another hotel. The new place seemed great – Nicole and I had a double bed each (albeit hard as a rock), and a patio overlooking the trees. The interior was exposed slate coloured bricks, and a fake fireplace. After setting up our rooms, we had a jeep safari of the wildlife reserve. Which was basically driving the roads around the interior of the park, and having the driver stop to point out deer in the far distance. We got to see peacocks, a mongoose, wild boar, dholes and spotted deer fairly close. Then as the jeeps were starting to do circles, all of a sudden, another jeep beeped its horn a couple of times and raced ahead of us. Our driver said “elephants” and started speeding after him. It was pretty clogged with people in cars and jeeps, parking and reversing and trying to get good view for their passengers. One of our jeeps raced into a clearing and one of our guys jumped out to get a photo, while the drivers yelled at him to get back in. We managed to get a couple of photos of the herd, but they were mostly obscured by trees. After our success with the elephants, we headed back a little early and were told dinner was provided by the hotel, 500 rupees for a buffet. Sure… It was awful. The worst food I have had all trip. They brought out vegetable soup which was tasteless apart from the chilli, vegetable friend rice which we had for lunch, vege noodles, which were apparently three minute noodles mushed with some wilted zucchini. Even the paneer masala – the paneer was burnt and rubbery – all three pieces of it in the entire serving bowl. After the lacklustre meal, we sat around a fire pit and chatted before getting the bus into the main part of town to see a festival, which was a celebration by the Panir people we had visited earlier in the day. The festival was a lot of fun. We had kids mobbing us asking our names and country of origin, while we watched men dancing in a conga line, and constructing a shrine to take to the temple later. They had fireworks and music, and carnival games. Then they started a drum circle. The rhythm was incredible, and the people playing were so passionate and lost in the beat. Some young boys started dancing, and before long they had a group of people jumping and shaking around. Of course, I couldn’t help but join them (at the insistence of a couple of women standing beside me and watching me sway to the thumping beat). It was so much fun! A couple of boys included me in their circle, and I’m not sure who was copying who, but I danced for a while with them. Until someone got a bit rough and a disagreement started in one corner, I exited to stay out of it. The watched the rest of the festivities for a bit, until we got bored and tired so headed back to the bus. We drove through a crowd, who cheered us as we left. Very funny night.