Yesterday, a 7.30am start and a six hour bus journey took me from Fort Kochi to Munnar, a hill station at 1500m; it’s also known for being South India’s largest tea-growing region, the plantations mostly being owned by Tata.
There were some spectacular views on the final ascent to Munnar. The bus, alas, didn’t stop, possibly because it was a standard government bus not a tourist one.
If I had come to Munnar from London, the temperature would have been fine – about 15c. However, the normal temperature I’ve experienced over the past month has been 30-35c. So I felt cold and put another two layers on!
Having had no aerobic exercise for the past month, I asked my hotel to arrange a hiking guide.
Today, with my guide, we hiked up Chokra Hills, at about 2100m – a total ascent of about 500m. It was perfect hiking weather – we had good views as we ascended and panoramic views at the top. We descended through the tea plantations.
On our way up, we saw a giant squirrel, oranges, tomatoes (normal and tree), pepper, coffee, tea, cardamom (the first time I ate fresh), lemongrass (loved the smell), and eucalyptus.
After the energy of the towns and cities, it was a welcome contrast to experience the peace of the Indian mountains for the first time.