Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Kerala "Gods Own Country" - Munnar

It took us 8 hours to travel from Punnamada, Alleppey to our destination in Munnar. Yeah.. it was a very long hour journey not by flight BUT road. According to our taxi driver, the journey was normally 6 hours but because it was a public holiday of Pooja Festivals, some of the roads were having a bad traffic. We stuck almost an hour at different towns along our journey.

Munnar is one of the most popular hill stations in India. It is located 1600mtrs above sea level and was once the summer resort of the British rulers in the colonial days. Munnar has the unending expanse of tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains, exotic species flora in its wild sanctuaries forest, waterfalls and cool weather.

The scenery along the journey reminds me when I was small, balik kampong from Muar to Batu Pahat. The coconut trees, rubber estates, pineapple farm and vegetable farms.. sounds familiar right.. The roads through out the journey are tarred, good and not as what I expected. There were many beautiful houses with Indian architecture looks like Balinese. I guess ni rumah toke estate, penghulu or wakil rakyat kut..

This is my second time in India. I’ve travelled from Delhi to Agra (Taj Mahal). Half of the journey, the road was very bad and muddy. The small towns that we passed by looked so gloomy with very bad traffic all the time. It was not just the ‘transport’ like cars, lorries, busses or motorcycles on the road, I could also see kereta lembu, kereta kuda, trishaw and even pigs! And.. hey Keralite people out there.. you should be proud of your place. All the towns that I passed by are organized and clean.

After hours and hours (my children said this journey was even longer than a flight back to KL) went thru the winding bumpy roads and the children three times vomiting including me – hahahaha.. pening melugai.. kuar habis muntah hijau, we finally arrived at our resort – Camp Noel. I didn’t know that I’ve booked a resort that was located at the end of Munnar’s road. We have to pass by thru a deep forest with tall trees like the one in the Twillight movie and also the warning sign of “beware of the possibility of wild animals crossing”. Cool ahh..

The resort is secluded in the middle of a vegetable farm near the village of Pazhathottam. It is 6550 feet above sea level. Once I stepped out from the car, I could feel the breezy cold air touch my face plus the smell of woods. Yes.. the natural smells of woods around us. We were served with a cup of hot chocolates (the best hot chocolate ever according to my children) upon our check-in arrival.

We stayed in a two bedroom cottage with a touch of English design. It even has a fireplace inside that my children were excited ‘playing’ and ‘experiment with it. We were surrounded by a beautiful view of majestic mountains, trees and not to forget the smell of the woods. Hilang segala penat 8hours travelling with all the vomiting when we had all of this.. hhehehhe

Our next day started with the Indian Kerala breakfast before we headed to our day expedition! Our first stop was at the TOP STATION. Top Station is notable as the historic transshipment location for Kannan Devan tea delivered up here from Munnar and Madupatty by railway. Here we could have the panoramic view of the majestic Western Ghats and neighboring state of Tamil Naidu. It was such a spectacular view.

We then passed by the MATTUPATTY DAM, which was built in 1953 and now famous for a picturesque picnic spot. Speed launches, motorboats or even horse riding are available to entertain you. It was a huge damn with very pleasing view.

Our next stop was at the famous spot called ECHO POINT. What is really intriguing about this place is the fact that the echo can be heard if you only face the trees in a perpendicular direction. We were very excited to try doing this. When we reached there the place was crowded with the local tourist. I was saying to myself – macam mana ah nak test echo ni.. with all the noises and hero heroin filem tamil tengah posing tangkap gambar!

The place actually was a long stretch of lake with rows of trees across the lake. So we have to stand by the lake and facing the tress to SHOUT or SING or say something. We tried one, twice, thrice but it didn’t worked! We got a bit frustrated until we saw our ‘friend’ next to us doing it. Probably we didn’t shout loud enough and it was not at the right direction. Once we got the hook of it.. menjerit2 tak henti2 ah nak test! Hahahhaa.. It was amazing.

We also passed by the KUNDALE DAM, which was constructed 100years ago. With a reservoir capacity of over 250 million cubic feet of water, this damn is a symbol of engineering excellence that has endured for more than a century.

Our expedition continued to the ELEPHANT ARRIVAL SPOT. Again it was crowded with tourist and we have to wait for almost an hour for our rides. This was my first time riding on an elephant and it was a wonderful experience. Imagine sitting on a huge tall animal.. lenggang lengguk jalan.. slowly that I anytime felt like going to drop off on the muddy trek.

It was almost noon and we headed to Munnar town to have our banana leaves rice lunch at the famous local Vegetarian Restaurant named Saravvanan. It was quite different from the one that I used to eat back in Kuala Lumpur. The curry and condiments that comes together looked very plain but it actually tasted delicious. Bertambah makan semua sehingga menjilat jari!!

After lunch we went for a visit to the TEA MUSEUM. This is a knowledgeable visit especially for my children. We didn’t just learn how the tea was processed but also the history of tea – how it was first brought to Kerala India, the famous tea and expensive tea and more information that I never knew.

Before we leave, we toured around this small town of Munnar. The people were very friendly and nice. All the foods, vegetables, fruits and even souvenirs are cheap. We spent almost a day with our friendly helpful driver who was so kind and never got tired to show us around. Sadly we have to leave Munnar on the next day. We left Munnar and Kerala with a mind-blowing experience. It was a tremendous experience that I and my family were not just enjoying the thrilling holiday but also to get to learn the culture, places and lifestyles of other people from the other part of the world.

MUNNAR and ALLEPPEY have their own uniqueness. At our resort of Camp Noel, Munnar – we only got hot water in the morning and evening at only a few hours. (it was cold with temp around 15degC). No Internet connections for entire stay and the electricity will be OFF after midnight till dawn. Surprisingly all of us were not complaining about it at all especially my children! We even enjoyed every single moments of our stay there.

People always terrified and talked about how dirty India is and YES.. I’ve seen those. People also complaining having stomach ache or afraid to eat or try on their foods – I was fine and even love the foods! Is India safe? – Yes! They are very honored to have guests in their home and will do all out to please us, tourists. When I said I want to visit India instead of Europe – many were surprised and wondered why?

India is a beautiful country. The people are very beautiful and special in their own way. India is often thought of as a backpacker destination with shoddy hotel rooms and dirt everywhere. This isn’t the reality! You can travel cheap or as lavishly as you want.

India is a place that everyone should visit once in the lives to get out of their comfort zones and get a different perspective of life. I guess sometimes we have to go to these kind of places to learn and value things that we have in our life. You’ll appreciate what you have back home and how fortunate you really are.

Believe me, after we came back from Kerala.. Me and hubby already planned to explore to a different part of India!

1 comment:

Thundersoul q8 said...

hi, السلام عليكم

very happy to see this blog, Im a keralite. But i didnt go to those places yet. haha, Because im employed in Kuwait Im loosing our family and my birthplace, I hope you are from Indonesia. I like Indonesia so much and i wonder why you guys choose to visit kerala when you have already a beautiful country. :D
I wish to come to Indonesia with my wife and family one day, If Allah wills.
I wish if i got a job there too, :D