FEB 4, 12 .. PONDICHERRY LEADS ME TO KODAIKANAL

As I have said often .. I visit extensively with other tourists .. mainly the younger-than-me backpackers .. I do NOT know what it is BUT .. almost without fail .. they are very friendly towards me .. almost  bending-over-backward to assist me ..

Here in Pondicherry ..the Saturday after I arrived .. in the grocery store almost beside my first Hotel .. Jacob and his girl friend (both from England) told me where to get real honest-to-goodness bread and also showed me the Guest House (Mothers Guest House) in which they were staying and into which I moved the next day .. Sunday the 15th of February .. and remain .. very pleased with the room and with Mothers Guest House ..

Well yesterday .. Friday the 3rd of February .. I took an all day bus tour of some of the local sights in and around Pondicherry .. and I spent most of the day visiting with three others on the tour .. all three had been to some strange sounding location deep into the South and West of Tamil Nadu and all three .. over and over and over again.. EMPHASIZED TO ME THAT I SHOULD GO THERE FOR A VISIT since I still have a week or so left in Tamil Nadu (I leave Tamil Nadu from Chennai by night train on Monday the 13th of February..) ..

In fact after the tour ended at 5:30PM .. I hooked up with one of them and we had dinner together and saw a band concert together .. all the while visiting ..

So here is a brief rundown of .. hold on now ..

KODAIKANAL or KODAI for short ..

I so thank Wikipedia for being the resource that it is .. I have often written that I financially donate to them and have a site with them that I have not yet developed ..

Kodaikanal  is in the hills of the extreme South and Western border of  Tamil Nadu and sits up at 2,133 Meters (which at 6,998 feet is a little over 1.3 miles above Sea Level.. higher than our Mile-High City of Denver, Colorado !)   Its name in the Tamil language means “The Gift of the Forest” and it is  referred to as the Princess of the Indian Hill Stations (each of these Hill Stations were developed by the British to beat the heat of the plains of India) .. developed in the year 1845 .. Kodaikanal has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination .. it is  a lot cooler in temperature than lower elevation cities such as Chennai and Pondicherry .. my three associates said to me .. “It is a two-blanket-at-night place” ..

Well today .. Saturday the 4th of February 2012 .. I went looking for information on Kodaikanal ..

My first stop this afternoon .. was a tiny little off-beat out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall one-man Travel Agency here on the main drag in Pondicherry ..goodness all you need to set yourself up in business is a computer and knowledge of how to use Google !

I had absolutely no intention of purchasing any tickets from the man and he turned out to be exceedingly courteous and polite and friendly .. and by-the-by .. a mini-wealth of information ..

He said that there was only one direct bus to Kodaikanal and that I would get the bus at the main bus stand (a place I know very well) and that I needed to go to Sharma Travel Agency out near the main bus stand .. one of my closest allies here in India is a man named Sharma that I have known since my first trip in 1990 ! .. so the Sharma Travel Agency came with some good karma ..

So out and off I walked .. and got to the main bus stand and asked where was Sharma Travel .. and I found them .. very nice people .. and they said to me .. “Go up the street about ten shops to PARVEEN TRAVELS .. they run the one bus to Kodaikanal .. we could book it for you but why not go to the people who run the bus” .. now these are my-kind-of-people !

On the Cap scale of zero (worst) to ten (best) .. PARVEEN TRAVEL is well over the top of the ten mark !

In pretty short order I opted to take the big plunge and go to Kodaikanal as suggested by my three tour companions from yesterday ..

This I LOVE .. the bus leaves from in front of their tourist agency .. their agency is OPEN 24-hours around the clock .. so I do not have to fight the crowds at the main bus stand .. they accepted my credit card (almost a first for this trip by the way.. everyone is dealing in cash-only pretty much) with no additional fees or surcharges .. and I am ticketed and I am set-to-go ..

And my reserved seat is in the front of the bus .. on the window .. on the opposite side of the bus from the driver .. big deal captain .. it is an all night ride in the dark ! ..  well I can get out first at our four stops en-route ..

This upcoming Tuesday the 7th I plan to check out of Mothers Guest House in the morning .. and get a hotel room at the main bus stand .. I looked at a bunch of Hotels in the vicinity of the main bus stand after I had booked the trip and all look good .. Air Conditioned if I want .. that way .. I will be right there for the 11PM bus .. and not navigating my way out in the dark!

I HAVE GOT TO TELL YOU ALL THIS .. I DO NOT ‘DO’ HEAT VERY WELL .. AND AFTER SOME SEVERAL MONTHS OF CONSTANT TEMPERATURES IN THE 80s and IN THE 90s .. I AM READY FOR SOME REAL NICE ‘HILL STATION’ COOL BREEZES ..

well that is that for now.. much joy and much love.. and the adventures contine to the end .. cap..


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