Periyar – Spicy…


After a lengthy drive, we arrived in Periyar just after noon. We dropped our bags in the hotel room (they upgraded us to a room larger than our London flat), we picked up some snacks on the way and arrived at the dock just in time to enjoy the 2PM cruise. Luckily for us, Jenny and Sulfri had arranged for a local gentleman to stand in line early in the day to secure our tickets. This saved us hours.


We hopped on the boat and cruised about the perimeter of Periyar Lake for a couple hours in search of local wildlife. The ever-elusive elephants refrained from joining the lakeside scene, but we did see scores of Samba deer, bison and a few brightly colored kingfishers (birds) along the way. And our driver pointed out wild boar and black and grey masque monkeys during our way into and out of the park. In fact, a few of the masque monkeys frequented the dock and waiting areas for the lake cruise — a bit of entertainment for the wait, I suppose. The monkey’s crazy antics kept everyone entertained. Watching them, even we were surprised when a ladies’ pink shoe seemingly fell from the sky. Suddenly, we were very aware of why monkeys earned their wacky reputation. During our drives around the area, Sulfi often stopped to point out the rich selection of local vegetation that make India so popular for trade. There were bananas, pineapples, tapioca, vanilla, tamarind, passion fruit, mango, pepper, cashews, betel nuts, etc. So we were well prepared for our afternoon tour of a spice plantation. Our somewhat novice spice guide (he was fresh out of training) often walked up to a plant, would pick off a piece of bark, etc and would ask us to guess what it was. Those who know me well also know that I love plants and easily retain much info about them. So, Sulfi’s coaching stuck and much to the dismay of our novice guide, I often knew the answer. In addition to the plants noted above, there were a few newcomers: gooseberry, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and tumeric.


Suffering only a few mosquito bites during the shady dusk tour, the highlight for me was an elephant ride. While wild elephants were hard to find, trained working elephants are more abundant. A large, healthy bull elephant pulled up to the platform and we climbed aboard. He took us about the perimeter of the spice plantation and gave us a high view from above. In the end, we treated him to a basket of fruit (he ate a whole pumpkin in 1 bite!) and were on our way.

After a short stop at the spice shop to pick up some fresh vanilla beans and peppercorns, we were back to our hotel. Living in such a small London flat (less than a third of the size of the house in Cary) , we’re not used to being in large spaces anymore. While the room in Periyar at The Wild Corridor had an amazing balcony overlooking the pool and other resort amenities, it was difficult for us to adjust to being in such a large space again. We found ourselves yelling to one another from across the flat. Too, the resort was large and somewhat impersonal (as compared to Blackberry Hills and our other accommodations thus far in the trip).

The resort hosted a pool-side New Year’s Eve party and we enjoyed sampling more of the regional cuisine and a taste of dance and music troop entertainment on the stage. Unfortunately, the clientele at this resort was more aloof and demanding than at the other resorts and accommodations along the way. We found ourselves embarrassed and appalled by the way which other European guests treated the resort staff and others.

Regardless of how the class system works in India, in our view we’re all people and deserve the same level of respect. We were thrilled that Wild Corridor was the only large, western style, high-end resort on our itinerary as these types of places seem to attract intolerant tour groups looking to be pampered. The rest of our accommodations were suitably moderate and small.

View additional photos from our Periyar album.

And stay tuned for a recap of our Alleppey Houseboat adventure tomorrow.

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