Our sojourn at the Ayervedic spa may have been brief but it was interesting. The festival celebrations at the nearby Hindu temple went on most of the day and night. We now feel familiar enough with Hindu tunes to offer our services next time. We met the other four guests and really enjoyed their company. It was a shame that our schedule didn’t allow us to stay longer. I indulged in a massage which was one of the best ever.
After a little discussion and some research, we booked a train from Palakhad to Aluva (pronounced Aloowa). Then the plan was to head up to Munnar and the tea plantations by taxi.
We had another wonderful train journey down from Palakhad. The taxi was easy to arrange and our lovely driver stopped at a fabulous local restaurant en route so that we could have refreshments. I introduced Sue to her first taste of the delicious masala dosa! A massive, thin disc of rice flour and lentil pancake that is filled with a potato and vegetable masala and loosely rolled. It is gently laid across a tray and droops over the sides. There are accompanying lentil dahl, vegetable curry and coconut chutney. Full marks!!
We continued on up into the cool of the hills and turned off the main road as darkness decended. We bounced along yet more pot-holed and rock strewn road and finally arrived at Eagle Mountain Hotel. (Bison Valley Road, Ottarmaram, firstname.lastname@example.org www.eaglemountainmunnar.com) We were shown to our enormous bedroom with balcony and were keen to see the view in the morning.
Oh WOW! What an amazing sight met our eyes. We were also able to hear the distinctive off-key whistling of the Malibar song thrush entertaining us and accompanying the view to music. Well, a rendition remarkably like, ‘Happy Birthday to You’.
We spent a quiet first day relaxing and enjoying the mountain air. I booked a walking tour (MunnarTrekkingAdventure.gmail.com www.munnartrekkingadventure.com) around the tea plantations for the following day. We organised a tuk-tuk to take us to to the meeting point at 0630h and then we were taken off on a beautiful, breath-taking and extensive tour of the surrounding countryside. Our guide was informative about the history of the tea plantations. After walking 12km we were ready for a reviving cup of chai and a lime soda. Once again, we met some interesting and friendly fellow travellers.
After our walk, we explored Munnar town which hasn’t really got much to recommend it, I’m afraid to say. The market area was quite interesting however, and we also enjoyed the tea museum. I was able to get my wedding ring expanded for a fee. About 30p!
By late afternoon, the fact that i had been quite sun burnt in the morning, became apparent to me, as my face and neck were very sore where they had been exposed to the rays. I was like a beacon!
To save ourselves a bit of time we booked a night bus to take us on to the coast to Kollam. We then spent the next five hours biting our nails as the bus practically time travelled its way down. We arrived with our hair standing on end, hot and sweaty (there was no air con!) and collapsed with nervous exhaustion into our hotel at 0200h.
This was yet another wonderful way to spend time and enjoy India. The boats are converted rice barges and they have a beautifully wrought wicker cover over them with openings for windows and sun decks. Ours had two palatial en-suite double rooms and a miniature spiral staircase to take you to the shaded dining area.
The lovely Biju looked after us providing drinks, food and fruit in a constant flow. We were taken on a guided tour of a local homestead and shown just how lush and productive this area is. There were bananas, jack fruit, coconuts, rose apples, green pepper corns, pomelo and pineapples growing with gay abandon.
All too soon, it was time to disembark. We took a taxi to Varkala and checked in to Palm Tree Heritage hotel right on the beach.
Next: Beach time, Trivandrum and back to Cochin.