Kottayam, and away to Chennai!

Kottayam in Kerala was my next stop. I was there to catch my night sleeper train to Chennai.

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Nevertheless, I tried to make good use of my time there by walking around on foot. It is a hot and dusty town, and I bought a cake of laundry soap which would serve me well for my stay in India.

This city is full of Orthodox churches.

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The cathedral that Pope John Paul II visited.

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I also went to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. To reach there, take a public bus from Baker’s Junction towards Kumarakom. The bus destinations are written in Malayalam at the top of the bus, so you will have to ask the locals to direct you to the correct bus. The public bus cost 13 INR.

The sign for the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is hidden behind this sign:

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Behind the big sign for the (overpriced) resort, you will see this:

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Seriously.

When I was there, it was a week before the nesting period for the birds. I did not see many birds.

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2 random purple herons. (if you can spot them)

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Dragonflies.

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Motorised houseboat seen on the river beside the bird sanctuary.

Nevertheless, it was a nice morning walk.

I also went for an ayurvedic massage after the walk. Forget the overpriced resorts offering ayurvedic massages. Ask the locals at Kumarakom and they will point you towards an ayurveda massage centre located 10 minutes on foot from the bird sanctuary.

(I will update with details in a bit)

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The bus stand going towards Kottayam.

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The hectic bus station at Kottayam.

I then took an auto to the train station to catch my overnight sleeper towards Chennai.

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The train station at Kottayam.

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An advertisement in the train station.

I bought a lower side sleeper in the 2nd class AC car from the travel agency in Mustafa Centre in Singapore. (For your Indian travel needs, please go to Mustafa. The other agencies are sort of rubbish.)

To explain a bit, there are two kinds of sleepers in the 2nd class AC cars. There are the regular cabins with 4 beds, and the side sleepers. The lower side sleepers are seats for 2 people in the day, and can be converted to a single bed during the night. These side sleepers are located sideways on the aisle of the train cars.

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My lower side sleeper looks like this.

After scratching my head and examining the orange levers (no instructions or help were given!) for a few minutes, I managed to turn it into a sleeper.

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TADAH!

The trip was uneventful, except for the random crying kid and the passengers who got on the train at the station after ours. An elderly Indian lady got quite lost and got into someone else’s cabin. She insisted that she belonged to the cabin. It turned out that her cabin was in the next car.
Whole Indian families travel in this class together. If you cannot stand kids, please opt for 1st class AC.

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Chennai train station.

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And so, I arrived in Chennai.
Things in Tamilnadu are a lot more complicated than in Kerala.

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