Not. What a dump. It’s done nothing but drizzle since we arrived here yesterday, and this does nothing to enhance the dreary, dirty, over-populated town that is Ooty. Promises of a cool climate, lovely lake, beautiful flora and fauna and some interesting sights have all fallen somewhat short, and so far we’ve been a bit disappointed by the place.
Ooty has a history of being popular with the British upper class, and you can see why - at just under 2300m above sea level, it’s significantly cooler and less humid than the coast or the plains, with temperatures being about those of a British summer for most of the year. For a place steeped with colonial history, we were almost expecting a British version of Panaji, but Ooty is no such thing – it’s just like any other Indian town, only slightly grottier if anything! The only part of Britain Ooty retains is the weather – for the first time since we arrived in India, we spent the whole day in the rain – cold, miserable drizzle.
To be fair though, there have been some good points. Two days ago, we travelled from our houseboat to a town called Coimbatore on a day train, where we spent one night. From there, we took the famous ‘miniature train’ up into the Nilgiri Mountains early the following morning – leaving Coimbatore at 5.15am! This was a spectacular journey on an old steam engine, with impressive sights and dramatic views of the countryside – forests, tea plantations, and general beautiful green scenery. The process of getting a ticket was a bit of a nightmare – we were told we did not need to make a reservation, however it turned out that this would have made things a little easier. First, I had to queue up to get allocated a seat. Then, I had to queue up again to pay for the seat. Finally, we had to pay tax on the tickets once we boarded the train itself – ridiculous. One person could have done the whole lot in a fraction of the time – I was quite annoyed. But the train was definitely worth it, and we didn’t want the journey to stop.
Unfortunately, it did, and here we are. Not long after we arrived in Ooty the rain started and it has not stopped. Late yesterday afternoon we went to the rose gardens – pretty, but not ‘The Best Rose Gardens in the World’ as the sign out front proclaimed – Swindon Town Gardens is just as pretty (although smaller!). We also visited an unusual exhibition of hand woven flowers – a sign on the wall proclaimed the exhibition a “miracle”… hmm, not sure about that one, but I guess it was quite unusual. The exhibition could have used a bit of sprucing up though – the green tarpaulin on the roof was a bit off-putting.
As you can tell, I’m a bit disheartened with Ooty, but don’t worry – there’s plenty to keep us entertained. Yesterday, we were having a good laugh at all the Indian tourists in their warm clothes in the 23 degree heat. Some of them were wearing earmuffs – ridiculous! And not just any earmuffs – some sort of fashion disaster that wraps around the back of one’s head and covers the ears – odd. One woman looked like she was going skiing – hat, mitts, scarf, just missing the skis. Today is a lot colder, and tonight I looked like I was going skiing! It was maybe around 15 degrees, but I had about three layers and a rain jacket on, felt a bit silly, but I’m used to 35 degrees and 90% humidity now!!! I never thought I’d admit it – but I really miss the heat.