30.11.2012 - 30.11.2012
I don't care how cheesy it sounds, but one of the reasons i'm so drawn to travel is because of where it takes you and the beauty it uncovers. Munnar is one of those places where the scenery takes your breath away. It reminded me a lot of the plantations in Colombia, and while the main crop is tea leaves, a whole array of other spices, plants and vegetation thrive here too, as we were soon to find out.
We left Fort Cochin at 6.30am yesterday morning, still dark and yet already warm. I was particularly excited to see that the vehicle we would be travelling in was an old Ambassador; the car you often associate with India that looks like it belongs in the 1950s. No air-con didn't seem to be a problem as somehow it kept us cooler that any of the other cars we'd been in. As we left the bustling, dusty towns behind us and drove into the lush green landscapes of Kerala's plantations, the air became free of pollution and dirt and we welcomed the freshness of it all. Our driver kept pulling over so we could reach out of the window to grab a leaf or plant from the side of the road to crush, smell and guess what it was. Lemon-grass, cinnamon, nutmeg, dal, vanilla and pineapple plants were just a few.
Just after 9am we pulled over at a large lake and saw elephants. We then proceeded up the long windy mountain roads to Munnar, past waterfalls and numerous spice farms. Eventually, and with several near misses of other drivers, we reached the top. Miles and miles of mountains and valleys all luscious green and wonderfully irregular in size and height. The trea leaves were everywhere, and as we got closer we could see women picking them across the hills.
But the best was yet to come. We'd each paid around £25 for a driver for two days, entry into a spice farm, all our food and overnight stay. The overnight stay was a homestay, but not just any homestay. A private house set at the top of one of the mountains overlooking the entire network of valleys and plantations below. The balcony was huge and gave immense 360 degree views across the landscape around us. Amanda and I agreed it could have been one of the best places we've ever stayed.
Tonight we are back in Kochi and it's our last night in India. We've just heard the weather is awful in UK and neither of us is relishing the thought of getting off the plane in Manchester to temperatures more than 30 degrees less than what we've been used to here. On our last night we will be eating...Italian! I know I know but India has broken me! Plus its not all bad-the guy who owns the restaurant / makes the food is from Kerala and shares our same passion for world travel so I won't feel like a total loser ordering pasta from a local!
This blog is nearly coming to an end here, hope you've enjoyed them