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Train to take us back to Ooty 

Ooty is a town right up in the mountains and is famous for it’s tea and also is known as ‘Second England’ because at night the temperature plummets and the air is the freshest we have breathed for weeks. We took one of the oldest orphans on this trip. He had the nickname of SMS and has an appearance of an intelligent terrorist. The plan was to catch the steam train at 8am in the morning to Ooty, however we had an untimely coffee break and discovered in the café that there was one at 7.10 and another at 8 we hurriedly drank the boiling tea and ran to the station asking for directions on the way. Our quick walk took us across the main road past fruit and vegetable stalls, though a small dark alley; there were around 4 shops here all selling flowers and the smell was overpowering, we broke through this deep scented aroma into a mini bus station. Here we asked some OAPs who were on a tea break where the station was. They must have twigged from our exhausted expressions that we needed to catch the train. They raised their head and in a Tamil tongue said ‘sorry lad you missed it, gone at 7’. We then proceeded to chase it by car to the next station, but again missed it.

We then, somewhat disheartened, drove up the death trap of a road to Ooty Hills, overtaking on blind corners, more hairpin bends that there was monkeys and often no crash barriers down the vertical cliff.

 Elephant food making

The first stop was to go for a proposed elephant ride which involved a drive though Ooty and around 50km journey down the other side of the mountain, this road was even worse. Single track, tighter corners, no crash barriers and distracting words of wisdom at each corner to help to look at the road one wisely said ‘Look at the road’ and another says ‘Buckle up before you buckle down’. We drove through 2 wildlife reserves and saw plenty of monkeys and a wild elephant. We then passed briefly into the next state before reaching our destination. “No elephant rides the man says , it’s not the season.” We could hardly believe our ears. We settled for the slight compensation of observing the elephants dinner being made which looked like they just recycle what come out of the elephant in 10KG balls.. I am sure this is an incorrect observation! We did manage to get a photo with a baby elephant and it’s mother; they seemed fine with us wandering up and patting their sandpaper skin.

The following day we found out that the train in the morning that we had missed had been hit by some falling rocks and several passengers were injured and one was in critical condition. When we travelled back down the mountain by train it was obvious to see how unsafe it could be with overhanging rock bridges that you look straight down at the forest below and wonder if there is anything holding you up. In the end we arrive safely back home.

SMS with his horse

A farmer near Ooty weeding in a carrot field.The train on the decent from Ooty towards Coimbatore, Nilgiri Mountain Railway

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