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Published: December 20th 2011
These guys pestered Aisha for rupees and pens... definitely posers though...
Stage 1: Ignition...
We had a sneaky change of accomodation yesterday afternoon (Royal Mist was booked out so we couldn't stay there our last night in Munnar) to a place called Arunyaka which is up the hill and over into the next valley from where we'd been. We bid goodbye to our lovely hosts Anil & Jeeva and Anil graciously drove us up the hill to our new digs, which are owned by an old friend of his. So after dumping our bags there we got a rickshaw up into Munnar itself (a lot closer from this place than from Royal Mist) to get some lunch and do some more last minute shopping. After attempting to buy his own body weight in Orange Pekoe tea (SO CHEAP!! T2 YOU PROFITEERING BASTARDS!!!) Aisha settled for something like 71kgs less than his unit mass, while Tess managed to find some interesting herbal face mask powder mixes. After a trip back to the homestay interrupted by stopping to photograph the tea picking ladies, we settled in to try and relax a bit for the remainder of our last day in Munnar. Between her ankle and her cold Tess was feeling a bit miserable,
Tea pickers/cutters in amongst the fields...
electing to watch a movie in the more-than-slightly public toilet scented room, while Aisha made good his escape down the hill where the promise of a photogenic waterfall beckoned like a flame to a moth. Obviously he'd determined his chances of survival were a damn sight better than a moth vs campfire affair, but nonetheless he was taking precautions. The waterfall was rumoured to be some few km by road but shorter if you took a path through the tea plantations, as past injuries to the knee have demonstrated (for those of you in the know) Aisha cannot resist the idea of a shortcut, though as others have said if it was such a great route it would just be the main trail. So with this in mind he set off alone to get some photos so that Tess De La Ankle Sprain (and of course the rest of you blog reading lot) could vicariously get her waterfall on.
Striding off down the road our intrepid antihero encountered first a tractor towing a huge trailer-load of tealeaves up the hill, then subsequently had the worlds most hilarious race with a car of Indian tourists. The shortcut was of the
Villages the Tea Company builds for workers are scattered throughout the valleys...
'huge and decaying makeshift stone giant steps' variety, but this allowed Aisha to sneak ahead of the car as it went down the long winding hairpins of the road, so every time they'd overtake him, he'd pop out well ahead of them at the next intersection of path and road. On the way down the path there were smiling tea picking ladies, friendly tourists and even a very nervous squirrel to keep him company. At the bottom of the road was a very peaceful glade where a creek was rushing down to meet the river through some very green undergrowth, with Eucalyptus trees reaching up to shade the little gully from the afternoon sun (for which he was very grateful). After stopping for a minute to catch some breath (general fitness for both of us has declined a bit since the walking heydays of Japan and HK) our protagonist makes it to the bridge over the river below the waterfall. The river clearly carries a lot more water during the peak than it was at this point, but apparently the middle of the monsoon sees almost a whole month of constant rain, day and night. So it's easy to imagine
Long way down...
The vertical difference between the ridges and valleys is insane to anyone from Australia...
the comparatively safe river becoming a raging torrent when in full flow.
Stopping on the bridge (much to the horn embellished irritation of some passing rickshaw drivers) Aisha managed to get some photographs of the waterfalls, river and surrounds, which were quite picturesque. The mountains loomed large and rocky overhead and the vertical distance between the valley floor and the mountaintops was really something awe-inspiring to behold. After wandering around and taking in the sights, with a slight audible groan Aisha decided to head back up towards civilisation (and Tess). The way up was considerably more interesting, as he was accosted by several groups of schoolkids obviously on their way home "Mr...you got pen? You got indian coin??" After denying the existence of pens or coins upon his person, he exchanged ''good names' and shook hands with these very solemn kids and proceeded on his sweaty road up the hill. The next group of kids saw the facehugger on his t-shirt and proceeded to yell "Spiderman!!" at which point Aisha of course had to turn around and deny any relation to the Tobey McGuire laden horror and explain that it was in reference to Alien (AN INFINITELY SUPERIOR AND
The Cafe at the end of the Waterfall
With posthumous apologies to Douglas Adams...
TIMELESS CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE!!). Aisha's last intersection with the population of the area was to get a photo of some workers who were engaged in building some kind of mega-resort just down the road from where we were staying, to beaming grins. How is it that these people manage to be so photogenic without even seeming to try? Either Indian schools have a mandatory class on 'Intro to Posing for Tourist Photos 101' or these people are just naturally awesome to the point of discouraging either of us to get in front of a photographic lens ever again.
Somewhat cooled down and reunited with Tess, who'd finished watching Napoleon Dynamite (GOSH!!!), the happy couple proceeded to lounge outside on an implausibly fluffy bank of grass (couches everywhere could learn a thing or two from this grass!!!) fighting off a small mosquito raid while they awaited dinner. Having arranged a car to get from Munnar back to Fort Kochi the next morning at 9:30am we ate dinner and crashed out comparatively early.
The morning dawned sunny and pleasant (up in the mountains, it was more like sunny and oppressively humid once the descent began) and we packed up what little
Below the Watefall...
The rapids below the waterfall...
we'd unpacked and prepared to head down to Fort Kochi. The drive was a damn sight faster going with gravity than against it, cutting several hours off the trip time, much to Tess and Aisha's gratitude. The driver had no idea where the nearest landmarks were in Fort Kochi, so Aisha very abortively navigated him there and by sheer dint of luck (and some skill, Aisha would say) they managed to get back to the Santa Cruz Basilica near Maison Casero. Coming back to our homestay in Fort Kochi almost felt a bit like coming home, it's nice to know where everything is and to feel something like familiarity again. A quick late lunch at Kashi and some last minute shopping saw us try and get another parcel wrapped up to mail before we depart on our (rail)road north tomorrow.
So this is where we leave you. Tomorrow begins our great Train Ride to Delhi and subsequently the last phase of our holiday. Guess the next time we update this for Part 2 of 'Munnar to Delhi' will be from considerably further North and hopefully from far cooler environs than we're sweltering through currently.
Au Revoir, Peace &
So awesome, it's like an ad in a magazine or something!
Tess & Aisha
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