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Published: January 3rd 2009
On one of my days in Munnar, I signed up for a sightseeing tour through the local Tourism Department. These tours are primarily geared to the Indian tourists, so I was not surprised to be the only westerner on board.
We started at 9am, and it was still a quite cold out. The local news station was at the starting point to interview me (and no-one else) about my view of the Munnar "climate." They took lots of footage of us standing around in the cold.
The tour was on a small tourist bus, there were 8 other tourists, the driver/tour-guide and me. There was a family: father, mother, young son, and father's parents, all from Calcutta; and then another couple and their sullen teenage son, who didn't get off the bus until the last stop. I think the teen was playing video games most of the trip, he clearly had no interest in being there with his parents on this tour.
We went to a protected sandalwood forest, which is entirely high-fenced to prevent poaching (a full tree is worth around $100,000).
We also saw wild lemongrass, which is harvested and oils are produced from it
in some of the more rural villages.
And finally, of course, we hiked. We went to one of the 2 game preserves, which is only accessible by hiking in with a trained guide. We saw wild elephants and ancient rock art, despite the loud complaints and requests to return to the bus within 10 minutes of the start.
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