Off the house boat at 9.30 to be greeted by Uthaman and his Ambassador for our drive north. Uthaman is very proud of his car. He showed us all the dials it comes with, petrol, oil, heat, speedometer. Also when you turn the key and the battery light comes on it means it's good. No need to worry. He has had the interior custom upholstered. Much to our fascination the seats, roof, doors and handle bars were all covered in plush (yet dirty) velour in a cubist design of browns. Top speed of this baby was 70 km and we probably averaged 40 km so it was a loooooooong journey! We were heading up to Wyanad which was 400 km away. The Car
Before leaving Allepey we had to stop in to the tailor to pick up our clothes. After running down the alley in a monsoonal downpour we were faced with a padlocked door. Urgh!!! The people in the neighbouring shops helped us to find out that she wasn't coming in as her father-in-law had died. After showing our sympahties we were dismayed at the prospect of having to make do with 2 sets of clothes each for who knows how long. Sari was particularly sick of those red pants already (so if there are lots of photos of her in them you know why).Oh well, back on the road.
We then had a quick stop to buy a phone card, which involves having to show a passport photo of yourself, as we didn't have one we popped into to a photo studio to have one made up. Ceri decided she would be the model and got her photo taken. Fifteen minutes later Ceri was very pleased with the result, they had photo-shopped out her moles and beauty spots, she came out with perfectly flawless skin. What a glamour!! We had a brief stop in Fort Cochin, as everyone was really crabby, nothing that a stretch and some food couldn't solve. We managed to see the Chinese Fishing Nets, which were impressive. Anton was harrassed by hawkers, who he encouraged by saying what beautiful pictures they had, this resulted in a drum seller following us and almost beating us a chewing rythm during our lunch. Driving along we figured out these road rules:
1. Anything bigger or faster has right of way
2. There is no right side of the road especially if you are bigger or faster and are overtaking
3. No need to indicate, the horn works much better especially if you are bigger or faster
4. There is so much to look out for in front of you that using mirrors becomes obsolete. But don't worry people will sound their horn.
5. You sound your horn if you are bigger or faster and want to overtake, turn a corner, acknowledge someone overtaking, are in the vicinity of another vehicle, dodging people trying to cross the road, are at a standstill in traffic. Basically there is a lot of horn beeping going on. We think the number of times and length of the beep may mean different things.
6. At night driving with high beams on is recommended. Particularly if there is an oncoming car. Or if you have them on normal turn them up to high beam at oncoming cars. This helps them see you more. At night using the horn and flashing your lights if you are bigger or faster and are overtaking.
7. Slam on your brakes, come to a halt and then change gears.
8. If in doubt just beep your horn.
Other things we observed on the trip:
* Hotels aren't a place to sleep. They are cafes.
* Bakerys don't sell bread. They sell snacks like chips, biscuits and lollies.
* Road works aren't logical. Stuff the disruption to traffic. They will rip up a whole 10 km stretch of road before laying it and resurfacing. This may sound okay but bear in mind the whole process is manual. This means work crews chipping boulders into gravel with a mallet and pick. A very long process.