KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Not much to say about this city of one and a half million souls. It was a long, six-hour journey by road from Alleppy. The road from Alleppy to near Cochin was extremely busy with heavy truck traffic in both directions. Once we turned inland towards Coimbatore, the traffic thinned and as we began to climb the vegetation changed completely from the tropical palms of the coast to scrub forest and dry grassy fields.
Coimbatore is primarily a textile centre that sprawls over a very large area with the Nilgiri Hills in the distance. There is little to see here and little to invite a traveller to stay. We had planned to travel by train to Ooty but the train's timings are so inconvenient for tourists that we decided to go by local bus. When we arrived at the bus station, Anil was so appalled by the state of the buses that he quickly convinced me to take a taxi. We had a very persistent taxi driver who steadily lowered his price as people began to board the bus. I'll never forget the relieved look on Anil's face when I agreed to leave the queue.
In the end it was the right decision. There are fifteen hairpin turns on the steep climb to Ooty and I know I would have been scared out of my wits if we had travelled on one of the old broken-down local buses. The trip ended up taking only two and a half hours instead of the five it would have taken on the bus. We found a nice hotel in Ooty with a great vegetarian restaurant just next door. As the sun set and the temperature dropped, we hurriedly jumped into our bed with two very thick blankets on top and wondered how we would deal with the cold morning temperatures when we woke. It's a relief to leave the heat and humidity of the coast behind, but are we prepared for lows of ten degrees?