Having met up with Laura's friend Alice and her travel buddy Charlotte, we headed inland as a four. first destination was Munnar, preceded by a six hour bus ride....anyway, despite the hard seats, and hot air from the engine, the bus ride was a great chance to meet and chat to the others, so time flew by and before we knew what was happening, we were in the Mountain town of Munnar, famed for its tea and spices.
Having staggered around the town with our bags, we ended up in a slightly dodgy home stay......anyway, there was hot water in one of the bathrooms and it was the cheapest place around so that made up for the shifty owners and pealing paint!!
Next day, we decided it would be good to go for a walk round the plantations, taking in a brilliant view point along the way, in our quest for some waterfalls. All went well, until we left the view point and proceeded to get totally lost amongst tea laves and, well, not much else! Anyway, we soon had enough of getting lost and hopped into a tiny rickshaw, which spluttered fumes and blared music all the way up the hill until we were where we ended up at the waterfalls! Unfortunately, to say the waterfalls were a disappointment, would be an understatement so we rushed off to plan our next adventure to Kumily.
We had initially planned to go to Chinnar wildlife reserve, but due to forest fires, we had to re-route to Periyar national park! So, after another hideously long bus ride (5 hours this time!) we made it, all squashed and unable to feel our legs, to Kumily.
Once we could move again, we got up and headed into town, where we tried for a while to hire automatic scooters, only to find that geared bikes were the only option....it was probably good that we weren't let loose on the windy indian roads, especially considering their driving is erratic at best!! So, we headed off onto another bus for a short ride to "Abrahams Spice plantation" where a rather interesting/alternative tour proceeded to introduce us to just about every plant and spice in this mans garden....quite amusing but none the less, we were so inspired by the tour that we decided to visit a tea factory......
Before I continue, I must warn those of you who have not had the pleasure of being acquainted with a tea factory that it is about as interesting as watching grass grow! However, we soon spiced the tour up by tagging along with a guided tour which proved to be very insightful but none the less not quite as inspirational as expected!! In fact, we were so fed up with the process that we decided to brighten the day up by hitchhiking back to Kumily - a concept which appeared unfamiliar to most of the Indians who passed us.......after about twenty cars and lorries passing, we flagged down a massive lorry which agreed (via the famous un-ambiguous sideways head nod/shake native to much of India) to take us to Munnar! However, rather than putting us in the empty back section, the cab door was opened and all four of us were ushered into the cab along with the driver and his friend!! It certainly was an experience not to be forgotten, winding up the mountain roads with the six of us crammed literally against the windscreen with Indian music blaring out of the speakers.....brilliant!!
Anyway, I've bored you all enough so I do apologies but so much has happened!!
Next stop, Cochin!!