We left Mysore determined not to come back for sometime. So determined that we had our biggest day yet. And then on next day, satisfied that we were far enough from Mysore, we had our shortest day yet.
Mysore to Sultan’s Battery
Traffic: good for a NH, perfect when we entered Bandipur National Park
Sultan’s Battery to Kalpatta
We got a really early start from Mysore, we had a big day ahead of us so we made sure we were ready to go nice and early. What a great idea, by 10 we had cycled 60km and it wasn’t even hot yet. We had cycled this part about a week earlier (twice’ Mysore to Gundlupet,then Gundlupet to Mysore), so we were excited when we headed east towards new ground. We went through Bandipur National park, which everyone described as a forest. And it was a forest, a forest of Bamboo and other leafy trees, altough I would say it wasn’t a very old forest, no tree was over 10m tall and the trees looked a little stressed. As we decended in elevation, we crossed the state line and entered Kerala. We enjoyed the shaded downhill road and saw the landscape change to an older, more vigorious forest.
There were a number of signs telling us not to have a picnic (or use our horn) as it was an animal crossing. Tanya was convinced that she heard people yelling from vehicles “Elephant!” But we didn’t see anything except for a few monkey (which get freaked out by a silent moving object about the size of a peron on a bike). By the time we exited the park, the ecosystem had changed completely from what we have seen thus far. Tall eculaptis trees (I think they were ecylaptis trees at least) towered overhead, bunches of bamboo grew in clumps like alder reaching hieghts over 20m. The windy road was dark, cool and moist. I even saw a cutblock. We found our hotel in Sultan’s Battery and enjoyed our hard earned dinner.
Since we only wanted to cycle 20km the next day we woke up late (7am). The morning was relaxed and we took our time packing and eating breakfast. We were on the road by 9 (we have usually gone 20km by 9) and enjoyed the late start as much as possible. The problem with starting late is that everyone in India starts around 9, so if you are moving by 7, you share the road with only a few Indians, but if you start at 9, you share the road with everyone. The road was mostly downhill and the surface was wide, traffic wasn’t bad but it wasn’t enjoyable. The ecosystem continued to change, the constant drop in elevation, the close proximity to the ocean and the fact we are only 11 degrees north of the eqator all contribute to the more tropical landscape. It is great if you love to look at the changing plants, or if you like really nice weather.
The food has changed as well. The first major change is that fish in on every menu (we are <70km from the ecean). When the food arrives it is cooked in cocconut milk, which is great. Tanya even willingly ordered a curry today. Kerala has a litercy rate of 91% (higher then any other state in India or any other developing nation in the world), and it shows. More people can speak some English, and people are very friendly here. In 1957 Kerala elected a communist government. Things seem more modern around here (I wonder if this is because of the Communist govenment…no way, communism is bad…right?). We have only scratched the surface of this state and I am looking forward to see what Kerala has to offer two sunburnt Canadians in the future.