On Monday morning we left the red cliffs, warm seas, great food and wonderful hospitality of Varkala, and journeyed a short 285 km to the picturesque hill station of Munnar.
Eight hours in the death cab later we arrived exhausted, hungry and honestly questioning whether visiting the Western Ghats and tea plantations was worth the effort.
After our cab driver dropped us off somewhat abruptly on what appeared to be a road in the middle of nowhere, we wrestled with a few tuk tuk drivers before “Selwa” whisked us away to view a handful of guest houses on a hill far removed from the town below.
Finally, we settled on what can only be described as “I’m too tired to care; this will do!” All we could think of was a good meal and freshening up. However, as darkness set in and the temperature plummeted, we were (or more accurately, I was) dismayed to discover that the gas for our geyser had run out and a hot shower would not be possible until the next day. It was at about this point that I had a serious sense of humour failure. We instead had to settle for a hot bucket shower – it did the job, and again, I was too tired to care.
Over dinner at a truly lovely and most peaceful spot up in the hills, Michael and I chatted about our trip thus far and traveling in general. The previous two trips I’ve made to India I stayed for one month and three months in Rishikesh and Dharamsala respectively. On both occasions I came to study yoga, philosophy and Ayurveda. I came with purpose and did not travel somewhat aimlessly. We have both enjoyed this trip immensely, but agreed that simply traveling for three weeks is probably not something we will rush to do again. I’ve always said if you really want to see and experience India, or anywhere for that matter, then stand still. And I honestly believe to come with purpose provides for a more meaningful experience.
As we continued chatting over dinner, the exhaustion had finally gotten to me. I had an overwhelming sense of “I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want to go home.”
The next morning we woke at the crack of dawn in order to begin our six hour hike through the rolling hills and tea plantations. We were pleasantly surprised when our guide Selwa who, as you guessed it, was also our tuk tuk driver informed us that four other South Africans would be joining our hike. As I sat sipping a deliciously warm cup of chai in the crisp morning air, I saw familiar faces coming towards me – the four other South Africans were actually friends from Joburg who we had also randomly run into in Varkala. A very happy coincidence yet again!
The hike turned out to be spectacular and 100% worth the effort to get to Munnar – the pictures don’t do it justice. It really is God’s Own Country.
So this is how we end our trip to India, in unbelievable beauty. Tomorrow we begin making our way slowly back to Mumbai and then home on Saturday.
Thank you for reading my ramblings. I hope in some small way I’ve inspired you to visit this amazing country. Michael said to me today: “I don’t know how to even begin to describe India to anyone if they ask me what it’s like.” My answer was simple: “India cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.”