Monday, December 11, 2006

Journey alone - Part 3

Originally uploaded by krishnakumar_cs.
Got up by 5 am. It was too cold out side, and to add to that it was windy too. The distance from Vagamon to Thekkady is around 65km. A minimum of one and a half hours is required to cover this distance in a two wheeler considering the state of the roads. My initial idea was to start by 5:15, so that I could reach Thekkady before 7:30. The reason was to catch the first boat trip into the lake, which is supposed to start by 7:30. However, the local people told that it was not advisable to start too early, due to the possibility that the animals might come down to the roads. Also the population on either side of the road is almost nil, which would make it difficult to get help if needed. Also considering that I am traveling alone, they suggested that I could start by day break.

I was ready by 5:30, and it was still dark. Went down to the hotel for a hot black tea. They were opened so early just for the sake of the policemen - Thanks to the temporary police camp set up there due to some local fights.

I started by 5:45, after finishing the tea. It was still dark outside, but the ambient light has become better. I started off slowly, but soon I was enjoying the ride through. The road goes through small hillocks, tea estates, small settlements ... But nobody was on the road. The winding road made it difficult to speed up, and the road was quite bad in some stretches. But bike has the advantage of being a little more agile.

Even with the best effort s I put, I reached by Thekkady 7:35, which meant that I missed the boat. Next boat will be at 9:30 am. Those two hours was valuable to be since I wanted to visit 'Ilaveezha Poonchira" on the way back. Since I couldn't make it I will have to drop it ;(

Had tea from the nearby shop. The hotel owner was more than happy to know that I am from B'lore since he had some relative here and was planning to come down to Bangalore for some job.

After taking the pass from the entry gate, I went inside. The boarding place for the boat is around 1km from the gate. Took the pass for the 9:30 trip. There is a small hotel inside which serves refreshments. Had my breakfast from there.

The forest department had a small setup there. Thekkady is one of the eco tourism initiatives from the forest department. They arrange various programs with the help of the tribal / local people there. Since I was alone and really didn't have much time to spend there, I decided to try that next time. Also, I was just back from our wonderful trip to the Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary. In fact I haven't recovered fully from the leech bites I got from there ;) The situation wasn't much different in Thekkady either - so decided that I better try it later, may be sometime in April.

The boat trip was uneventful, which was expected. Since it was during the monsoon, the chances of spotting the wildlife are pretty narrow. But was a very relaxing trip, but wasn't thrilling at all. And I lost another two hours ;(

Since the route from Thekkady to Munnar was a bit bad, I decided to drop the plan to take the de-tour. So nothing more was left - I started my journey back.

Just then I realised that the petrol in the tank was not enough for the next 200 kilometers. Not wanting to take the risk of filling on the way, I tried to fill petrol from the nearby pump. But petrol was not available due the tanker strike in Kerala. The strike was apparently called off, but the supply was not available yet. After checking with a few people, came to know that petrol is available at Kambam, which is around 20 km from Thekkady. So decided to go there and fill the petrol to be safe.

But this short de-tour itself took around two hours, since I had to stop in between due to the heavy rain. But at the place where I filled petrol (around 2 km from Kambam) there were no rains, since it fall in the rain shadow region. On the way back, the rain was even stronger, I enjoyed it to the maximum, but I had to stop when it become heavier.

By 2:15, I was back in Kumily, and I continued the journey back. The return journey was pretty slow, first due to traffic, then due to the frequent stops to take photographs and then due to the heavy rain. The road conditions made it worse. I finally reached home at 9:15 pm. Had a nice dinner and before I realised, I was in deep sleep.

This trip was a very different experience to me. For the first time in a trip, I really did the lead role. The terrain was unknown to me, and I faced it fearlessly. It was risky, but I was thrilled at that opportunity. And all that was done alone - that taught me that the greatest strength and weakness is just me. I can stretch to my limits, but vulnerable to my own weakness. A team excels in reducing those vulnerabilities, but it does restrict your ability to stretch the limits. "The chain is no stronger than its weakest link"

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