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Published: March 13th 2018
Day 15-17 –Hill stations – Tea Plantations
So the next car, I booked via the hotel for a late morning departure, brought us from Kumily to Chithirapuram (near Munnar) another 83 pot-holey km’s across the mountains. Cue more puking from the girl. It turned out the main mountain road was closed so we really were on the worst back road and it was very winding. The driving was one of the perkier ones we had though and stopped at an altar to give an offering for a safe journey at the beginning of the trip. We came across an elephant walking down the road at one point and also an accident off a motor bike but the driver & pillion seemed ok.
So 3 hours later and not a moment too soon we could see our mountain side retreat nestled in the Western Ghats called The Panoramic Getaway. The Ghats were formed by very ancient volcanoes. Gorgeous 5 star place, with an actual family suite!!! The foyer was gorgeous with glass drop hanging lights etc. incl. a foosball table which the kids were delighted to use while we waited to check in. Naturally we were all feeling a bit rough after that journey so we took to our big comfy beds and watched movies- the adults actually watched “Speed” which was perfect mindless fodder. Got room service for very late lunch and the kids food had potato cakes which had been pressed with happy face cutters, very cute. We hit the pool pre sunset and had it to ourselves for a good while (then another family with kids, Indian I think, came out for a bit but didn’t interact with us.) After an unmemorable expensive non buffet dinner, we hit the games room much to the kids delight, for pin pong and carom (Indian board game we’d played in a friend’s place in Australia) also there were chess boards and card tables set up. Guess what was beside the games room? An adults’ only swimming pool!!! Where were these places when we had no kids for all those years?!
It had come to light that evening when we were dressing for dinner the hubby had left his best (aka expensive) shirt and trousers in the hotel back in Kumily! So I called them and asked about posting them to Australia and they enquired how long we’d be in Munnar, when I said another 36 hours they said no problem we’ll try and get it delivered to you in Munnar. So at dinner that night one of the managers came to speak to us to say he’d been onto Greenwoods housekeeping manager and a car would be coming to Munnar tomorrow anyway, so they would definitely drop the package in. So we left a tip for the driver with reception. That same manager checked in again with us the next 2 mornings at breakfast too which was very good and attentive of him.
So the whole reason we picked Munnar was to see a tea plantation. We had already been at tea plantations in Darjeeling 10 years ago but thought it would be cool for the kids to see too, whether they agree I don’t know! Plus you know, being Irish, we love tea. So unlike Darjeeling there is not loads of different plantations you can visit but here it’s pretty much one giant plantation originally owned by a Tata company but now it’s a co-operative owned about 70%!b(MISSING)y the workers called Kanan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP). So the best thing to do is to go to the tea museum, which was very interesting. Mind you Monty Burns would have been proud of the propaganda video and how great “the company” was to the workers – paying them in “itchy & scratchy” money at one point! Anyway the co-op seems to be going good now so I’ll say no more about that. Apart from museum artefacts you’d expect: photos, old tools and a demo factory, there was also a tea lecture about how you are making tea all wrong. Cue eye rolling husband. Still though we enjoyed it and there’s a tea supermarket as opposed to a gift shop you exit through, where we stocked up. Tea plantations are so beautiful to look at, I love the ordered neat hedges, so the scenery was amazing. And we had a really nice Indian ice-pop at the end, which I had to force kids to taste & then after much resistance they loved it!!
Again the tuk-tuk driver from the hotel abandoned us so we walked back the couple of km’s to Munnar central (about 12km’s from our hotel), with some complaining from the whingers. So Munnar itself is a busy administrative central, not geared to foreign tourists at all which was good, we were wandering around in “real” shops and bought some gifts & trinkets for taking home. We had lunch in a place I had noticed in the Lonely Planet which did a good take on Israeli shakshuka (although I think the hubby’s version is superior). When we were done, there was no tuk-tuk’s queuing up for our business (again refreshing) so, we wandered out of town a bit and found one.
Back at the hotel I escaped to the adult only pool alone for a while, but they eventually found me! So back to sunset in the lovely western Ghats in the family pool where I got chatting to an Indian/Aussie couple from Melbourne, with whom it was nice to compare notes for a bit.
Dinner that night was delicious in their underground bar called… The Underground! Complete with London Underground signage. The tandoori food we choose was absolutely gorgeous and the kids had non spicy carrot soup which they loved. The décor was very modern and the marble bar top was backlit. They had some cool movie/music/TV posters up too (also some naff ones but hey you can’t have everything). We had it to ourselves, the only catch was it was not a licenced premises; we did have some nice mocktail’s though. The waiter was telling me this bar and the family pool were part of a recent extension (the adult only pool was originally the main pool) and that they were waiting on their liquor licence which was due in 3 months. They had some humorous 1950’s style alcohol posters up too so we were like Pavlov’s dogs with the power of suggestion. But in all seriousness it was kind of nice to have an abstemious evening in a nice venue with our little punks.
On our last day we were in no rush to leave as we heading to an airport hotel. Checked out a late as possible, 11am I think. Kids & Dad had another shot at the games room while I packed up tea and trinkets.
So the next car brought us our last 103 km’s by road back to Cochin (5000rps). Not as winding but cue more puking from the girl, but it was car sick as opposed to Delhi belly. This time I was super ready with the sick bags. We had stopped at Cheeyappara waterfalls and she was fine, although she looks rough in the photos I see now, then we had to pull in again to clean her up but she made less of a mess this time. Driver was very nice and chatted a lot.
On all the mountain drives we passed pilgrims carrying their bags on their heads, intriguing to see. The waterfalls were nice too by the way but when you’re used to Irish waterfalls where it rains a lot, no waterfalls in hot places can really be comparable. Monsoon season might be different.
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