Wednesday, December 30
Golden Peak, Ponmudi, 14:00
At 10:00 Sreni arrived in a new car and we set off. He decided to go down the road that is all roadworks. It proved to be passable. It also proved to be the world’s most uncomfortable ride. By the time we got to Kovalam Junction (a five minute drive that took about thirty) my stomach was doing somersaults and I desperately needed a toilet.
We drove through large parts of the outskirts of Trivandrum before heading off though some smaller towns. At one of these we went to visit a temple which was closed for repair. Fortunately its toilet was open for me. From that point on I enjoyed the day.
Ponmudi is an eco-tourism initiative; a kind of national park that includes tea plantations, rubber plantations, pepper and spice farms, and lots of wild monkeys. We started at the bottom, walking in a small river without falling in, and then travelled up the mountain.
Now we are at the very top of the mountain. I have walked to an observation tower and climed it. The wind is constant and at storm level. I clutch my iPad and take as few photos as I can. I am looking at the Indian Space Research Centre buildings.
Later we will make several attempts to stop somewhere for lunch. Some places will be full and others closed. Eventually we will find the River County restaurant where we will have genuinely delicious dhali with fried chicken.
The ride back will be characterised by traffic jams, near misses and wrong turns. I will enjoy all of them.