The centre of some of the world's highest tea-growing estates!
After a bumpy bumpy 5 hour bus ride from Fort Kochin we arrived in Munnar. The higher you got, the worse the roads were, and with all the curves and bends in the road, it was a relief to finally get there. We both took a betablockers (slows your heartrate!) before the bus ride which made the bends and curvy mountain passes tolerable. The bus also stopped at least 20 times, on occasions for 'a chai stop' for ten minutes, or another 'chai stop' for five minutes.
Cochin had been baking hot, 35 degrees at night and high thirties during the day. As the bus went higher and higher, you could sense that the air was getting cooler, and finally there was the fresh, crisp mountain air of Munnar. There are dramatic mountains all around the little village, and acres and acres of these perfectly manicured tea estates - it basically looks like loads of giant broccoli florets placed so perfectly and neatly next to each other. Absolutely gorgeous!
We found a lovely guesthouse, at the recommendation of our rickshaw driver, which was new and clean. It was also the hub for all travellers and every night we would gather on the roof top to trade travel stories and tips. We met travellers from Mexico, Canada, Switzerland and of course, as in everywhere in India, Israelis. Our three months of travelling paled in comparison to so many people who we met who had been travelling for two or three years, just amazing to hear there experiences.
A Swiss couple were travelling with great little speakers and soon it was international tunes, the Mexican music, the Swiss and Italian, was great. We hung out drinking Kingfisher beer and hot chai. Another first was to have a hot shower with proper hot water before going to bed. It was our first hot water shower after travelling for over 5 weeks.
After chilling and roaming the little town centre on the first day, we were ready for some trekking. The next day we set off on a 6 km walk through the tea plantations. Well, in India they always seem to give you a measurement that's not quite accurate. If they say an hour it could mean anything from 20 minutes to two hours so the 6km walk seemed more like 8km. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We met the occasional tea picker, dressed in brightly coloured sarrees and carrying huge bags of picked tea leaves on their heads. We finished the walk at about lunch time, chilled and then headed for the sundowner walk to the view point. We took a turn at the wrong stage, due to a really bad typically drawn Indian map, and ended up walking further into the tea plantations, through herds of cattle. It was great but we soon headed back as we didn't want to be walking in the dark.
Our second day of trekking was such an amazing walk with phenomenal views. The quiet, fresh air, the green hills everywhere . . . . We caught a bus back from the signal point at the end of the walk into Munnar town and headed for a curry. It definitely helped to be really hungry as eating curry all the time can get a bit much. We supplemented this by eating the homemade chocolates available in Munnar. We were so excited to find these as the choc in the rest of India is really soapy tasting and we have hardly had any. Apparently they put something in the Indian choc to stop it from melting which makes it taste so bad. The homemade stuff was delicious!
The last day we headed up to top station (a typical Indian explain it all name!). It was an hours drive on some dodgy roads but the views were well worth it.
We loved Munnar and will definitely go back someday - a little piece of paradise set on top of a mountain . . .