Today we have had our tickets clipped so many times I have lost count. For those who do not know the term it means paying over the odds for an item or a service.

Actually it started yesterday when we arrived at our new home away from home, Thekkady, or to be precise, Periyer Tiger Reserve. I think it is simply a narional park in the guide book but there are over 40 tigers there, more on them later.

Hotel looked like a an army barracks and is inside the park which costs 300 rupees each a day to get in the gate, 2 days at 300 each per day, well you can do the maths.

John Cleese lookalike on the desk showed us a pit in the back of the hotel I snarled and for an additional 2500 rupees we ended up with a room we could sleep in, this was over and above what the agent had already charged us.

Dinner had to be at the hotel as we are locked in the park every night at 6 pm and the gates do not open till 6 am.

Clipped and jailed.

This morning we went on the nature walk of 3 hours  round a small part of the park, 100 rupees each- a bargain, then came 40 rupees for canvas puttees to keep leeches at bay- you needed them as some people ended up with small leeches inside thier shoes. Anyway to get to that stage- of putting on the puttees we had the usual kerfuffle of getting tickets, only 20 people go out at a time, starting at 7 am, then another lot at 10 am and last lot at 3 pm. Well thats what the guide book said but we ended up going adorned in our new very sexy canvas puttees over our socks, inside our sandles and tied over our trousers, mine came over my knees, at 7.30 am. Yes another early start, Terry got his clothes ready the night before.

Walk was actually pretty good, bush was similar to good NZ bush and we saw numerous birds, lovely coloured kingfishers and a DRONGO, yes they do exist, have a lovely split tail. Saw lots of elelphant poo, porcupine poo, and all sorts of other poo, plus we saw a tigers paw print(golly), then we finally saw some bison and some wild boar. But no elephants, yesterday elelphants were sighted.

We returned to the park headquartes on a bamboo raft, there is a hydro lake in the park,and tipped the guide 20 rupees, we thought he was pretty good. Before we left the park we had breakfast, Indian, and a wretched large male monkey swooped down and stole my parathas and baji. It slurped it up off the table!!!! I was provided with more!

We were then told by our guide that we had not tipped enough- another 50 rupees. plus we coughed up for the daily entrance fee of 600 rupees so we could get out of jail and go to a Camp Fire lunch. Yes, I know, the name is enough.

Anyway , we never looked closely at the walls or the fact that the dishes were washed incold water and non bottled water was used in the cooking.Lots of coconut oil was used, and we had really good okra, bean and chicken curries plus bbq’d chicken, well done on a pit over coconut husks. Another 900 rupees , getting the hang of this clipping, just voluntarily handing over money now!

We are now getting the usual pressure from the driver- subtle mind, how little they are paid, how much everything costs, how this, how that, we just smile. We told him this am that there is no tipping in NZ, he looked shocked.

We have only  a 150 k trip to make tomorrow but seeing you only do about 25 k’s an hour on these roads not sure when we will finally make our houseboat, now that should provide some comedy.

We arrive in Cochin again on Friday after another 100 plus k’s on uncertain roads, then it is a hop skip and a jump till we arrive home.

Oh, yes, the better car, it is a renault and is the bosses own! See what you get when you complain, it certainly makes life easier but we do seem to have spent an awful lot of time in it. Just as well I moaned.

I am sure the ticket will be clipped a few more times…..