Kerala: a little piece of Paradise

http://olivebrookmunnar.com

Our host at Olive Brook resort

showed us around the garden talking about the plants and some of the methods they used.

We loaded up the bus and headed off to find the ATM in Munnar. Not always easy.

Then the journey down the mountains towards Cochin. It’s not far in km but it takes awhile because the roads are narrow and bumpy.

Along the way we stopped at an Ayurveda Spice Garden. We climbed the tree house and went in the Jeep down into the garden.

It was set out well with the trees marking the path painted jaunty colours. Our guide Teddu was there to explain all the uses of the Ayurveda plants. He explained each one in detail and believe me there was a cure for everything- from headaches to high blood pressure to varicose veins and all the pills and creams were available to buy in the shop. Unfortunately I’m not going to throw out my present medications. Though I’d like to give the one for inflammation a go.

Back on the road, we saw a truck clip a bike and both rider and passenger were shaken but hopefully ok.

Then we passed a family of monkeys.

What we were looking for was a wine shop! We are headed for a 3 night home stay and decided we’d like a bottle of wine. This is despite the fact it’s an organic farm with all vegetarian food.

We’ll also be enjoying an Ayurveda massage!

We stopped at a sad looking bar and realised that the Indian people do not drink like we do – to enjoy a glass with dinner.

So on we pressed for Kottayam- and the exact area where the author Arendhoti Roy comes from. Her book The God of Small Things was set in this area and our host George knows her well.

George was at the gate to greet us and straightaway we knew we were in for an authentic home stay.

Hello Kerala

There’s nothing like a swim before breakfast in a warm climate.

Another dosa with sambal and assorted chutney along with paw paw and pineapple made a perfect breakfast before our trip to Munnar in Kerala.

It’s supposed to be a 4 hour trip but another traveller warned the road for the last part of the journey was very rough.

Our new driver inspires confidence. He’s well dressed and has good English and doesn’t seem preoccupied with his hair.

Setting off around 9 we headed west. We were surprised that this area of Tamil Nadu seemed more prosperous.

After a coffee stop where for the first time the owner hinted that a tip might be in order. So as he also supplied a cleanish squat toilet we did tip. At 200 rupees ( $A4) we were happy to leave him a tip.

Before long we were driving towards the area known as the Western Gnats.

Another stop at a mud brick works where three women were making mud bricks and keeping the kiln working. Such hard work but they were charming to us allowing photos. Our driver said they make 200 rupees a day but are housed by the Govt and their children educated.

Driving along you come across all sorts of things. Including parades with firecrackers. We’re told they are festivals!

Climbing up the Western Ghats was so interesting. The views spectacular. We hit the top and crossed over into Kerala state. Here the roads haven’t been upgraded. They are in the process of widening and repairing damage from the storms last year. It was hard going. Pot holes, dust , narrow places to pass but the views were great and the tea plantations beautiful to look at.

We stopped at a tea plantation for a tour and so found out about the process and the difference between the white tea, green and black tea ( of which there are 4 grades). The white tea has the most health benefits and was around $A24 for 600 gr.

A quick cup of tea and we were back on the bus for Munnar.

This small town is the centre for tea production and Ayurveda medicines. We stopped for a quick look then continued on to a cultural show.

These Cultural shows are often fascinating but are better if you can understand what is happening. The sound and narration wasn’t good though the costumes and make up were wonderful.

By the time we arrived at our hotel the Olive Brook Resort we were ready for a G & T and dinner. This hotel is a few km out of Munnar along a very bumpy road. It’s a little oasis in the cool hill. It’s almost English style with beautiful gardens.

Both were very welcome. As this is a cashew area some of us has the Cashew Chicken. Delicious

Our rooms were spread through a garden and for a change we had no air con. Fortunately I was with Shelley who also like fresh air and as it’s higher and cooler here we hoped for no mozzies!

We enjoyed a great sleep and woke to birds tweeting. So different to cars tooting!