Touring through paradise

Complete forgot I wrote this post already but didn’t post it yet. So here it is with 2 days delay:

Today we got up at 06:00 and prepared ourselves for our tracking trip through the area surrounding the hotel.
We had a very small group, it was just our guide, a couple with a child and us.

The guide introduced himself quite clearly, twice during his short introduction he mentioned his name was Philip. My guess is this has something to do with the ‘Guest review card’ which we have in our room, they specifically ask us for employee names of who we liked best during our stay.
Philip is a smart man, because so far he’s the only one who introduced himself with his name.

Philip showed us that around the hotel they had loads of different flower, fruit and vegetable plants and trees. I can’t remember all of them, but there was a fire plant which made a popping sound when you pinched it seeds and a tiny pinkish apple called a Chambakka. We even got to eat one of the Chambakka, but we first had to open it up and remove the ants that were inside, but they still were tasty.

We also went through nearby tea plantations and these looked amazing during the sunrise (unfortunately I only took pictures with my camera).
Philip also told us about the history of tea in Munnar, which was quite interesting. Apparently over 100 years ago some foreigners bought a lot of land dirt cheap (€50) and decided to grow tea on it, making a lot of money.

During our hike we also found out where our driver Shakeer is staying.
Apparently 50 meters down the hill there is a parking area with a few small huts. When we passed it during the hike we already thought Shakeer was proably staying there and this was confirmed when he waved and said “Good morning!”

After our little hike we went back to the hotel for some breakfast. Having curry for breakfast takes a bit getting used to though but it still tastes great.
Afterwards we called Shakeer and headed out.

He first brought us to some guys who were advertising with an Off-road Jeep ride. They explained it would take around 3 hours and that seemed a bit long too us. It also was “expensive” at €55, for that amount of money we could get a lot of other cool stuff here.

Second stop was a temple we passed. Shakeer told us we couldn’t enter through the gate so we just stood outside and took some pictures. (The Sree Ayyappan Temple Anachal)
Suddenly a man called Anthony (don’t let that name fool you, he was 100% Indian) appeared out of nowhere and asked us to come with him to the temple, but only if we took off our shoes.

First we had to wait outside for a bit because we heard some chanting coming from inside the temple, so we took some pictures of our surroundings.
Then we were invited in, and it was quite an experience.
We stood in front of some kind of closed altar where a guy was banging on drums. After a minute or two the doors of the altar opened where they offered fire to a statue while chanting. We then got handed several flower’s.
Unfortunately nobody there could really explain what exactly was going on (we have to check that when we come back) but we were still impressed by the whole happening.

When we were leaving the temple Anthony told us our driver couldn’t enter because he had the wrong belief. Poor Shakeer.

For the rest of the day we mainly stopped at some good viewpoints:

(I snapped these real quick with my mobile, the ones I took with my camera don’t have my fat finger disrupting the view)

We also made a stop at a Tea Museum, where we learned even more about the history of tea in Munnar and we also stocked up on tea there.

Lastly we stopped at Mattupetty dam and Echo Point. These places had some decent views (but we’ve seen better here) but they both had a large amount of shops we could snoop around here.
Rhonja even tried to haggle there, and after a few attempts she finally managed to get some discounts.

Back at the hotel we rested for a bit and headed towards the restaurant again.
As a starter we took one dish we also had yesterday: Chicken 65 Kerala style. We both agreed this was the best chicken dish we have ever had. We will definitely try a recipe for that one when we get back home.

For our main course we had a vegetarian curry, mutton roast and Kerala Paratha. Paratha is a bit like a flaky pancake and you use it to pick up other foods, but also on it’s own it tastes great!

Tomorrow morning we’ll be heading back to Kochi, where we’ll take a plane to Chennai. No clue yet where we’ll be staying, since my colleague has made the arrangements for that!