Wednesday, 4 March 2015

03 Mar - Mettupalayam to Kotagiri - Into the Ghats

Day's run: 31 km    

Total: 570 km

Start:  06:57

Saddle Time:   04:37

Height Gain:    1,632 m 

Height AMSL: 2,000 m

Average: 6.7 kph 

Probably the most unrelenting climb I've ever done......and  I've never seen such a consistent gradient.  

The plan was to reach Ooty, a run of 59km, but I knew that with  a 2,000m climb that would be a tall order. Suck it and see!

Don't worry, I won't be obstructing any elephants. It rained over night, so a little bit cooler.

It took a million years to end up looking like.......this.

I've been going for a couple of hours in the biosphere and haven't seen any shops.... or anything, I'm starting to fret about food and water as I'm only carrying 2 litres..........and I'm sweating bucketloads.

Even the monkeys stare at me. Every single 'sitting for a breather' rock and wall is freshly whitewashed a delicate lilac blue, no reflective road markers here. There are some lethal drop-offs if you go over the edge, as has clearly happened in places.

A camera can't really do justice to the scenery. I'm grateful when it starts to pour with rain and think about doing a nappy change at some point.

That's the town I left this morning in the distance. I'm around 1,000 metres and it's starting to cool off, a very pleasant 26 deg

 ..........and then suddenly around a corner is a teashop - Bliss!

Breakfast of veggie pakoras - delicious. Even the wrapping paper (Hindu Times - classy) was in English, so you can catch up on the news while you munch.

In the tea plantations. 'Tea is nature's gift, it keeps us fit'. On the strength of that I should be pretty fit! As a booster I picked some leaves and had a munch on them............disappointingly they taste nothing like PG tips.

This is jackfruit I think, basis of idlis, a traditional breakfast dish I've yet to try.

Not easy to photograph, and I don't trust them. In Malaysia I left the bike for a few minutes and they removed the water bottle from the holder and chewed a hole through the plastic to get the water out. Cheeky monkeys!

12 km to Kotagiri, 38 to Ooty. I'm starting to feel it so Kotagiri it is. I don't want to damage anything due to over-exuberance

Soaked with sweat but exuberant....and sitting on the only whitewash-free rock I can find

It is just so lush.........what a difference 2,000m makes

Two guys stop on a motor bike and want to be photographed with me. Put your arm around me (like you are my bestest friend). But look I'm a yucky wet rag. No problem. I feel like some sort of this what it's like to be famous?

Even though it's definitely cooler up here, I'm still having to work at it. I turn on the beats.......Hendrick's 'Purple Haze' riff works for the manic gradients, Disco Bob for the medium, and Jake Bug for the tedium. When I finally arrive in Kotagiri, itself built on several levels, I try several hostelries before I discovered this little gem. Bel-air Cottages, perched above the town on a hillside, it's Raj-era English cottage built 100 years ago and not had a penny spent on it since. I lie on the bed after showering with a bucket (hot water mind you) and look up at the corrugated tin roof. Sort of shabby-chic. Two big pluses, the internet chugs along fairly respectably, and it has a small kitchen where businessmen come for lunch. 750 rupees the night. Oh, and it's quiet, I am the only guest.
Only in India 1: Why do you put a padlock on the outside of the (shared) toilet? "In case somebody tries to use it." It's upstairs on the first floor. Apparently it gets busy 'in the season'.

.........but first a spot of lunch in the leafy bower. Best chilli chicken I've ever tasted.......and all those home-made pickles!

My charming residence. I can have dinner on the lawn, or wherever I please.

It was a great day. I like it so much here, I'm going to have to stay another day....and do a bit of strategic trip planning. at the moment I've no idea where to go next.

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