A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

From God’s own country..

Posted by Pepper on November 30, 2014

I am going to bullet my thoughts on the Kerala trip. My brain usually feels muddled when there is a lot to say. This post has been in the drafts forever. So without further ado, here we go:

– Like I had mentioned in my previous post, we traveled to Cochin by train. It was a 24 hour journey. I managed to sleep * a lot*. Perhaps the mild rocking of the train is conducive to sleeping? I don’t know. I was surprised by my own capacity to sleep. When I wasn’t sleeping,Β Mint and I spent time chatting with each other and reading our respective books. We had some good food too. Our train stopped at Udupi station and Mint got some boxed meals ofΒ appams and kadala curry. Quite amazing!

– I managed to use the toilets in the train without much fuss. It was okay, I thought. The only thing that grossed me out was the handles on the toilet doors. They were always sticky. That made me wonder. What was causing them to get sticky? Some of the passing thoughts were downright repulsive. So I stopped thinking. I used tissue paper to touch the handles and slathered my palms with sanitizer each time I used the loo.

– We got off at Ernakulam station at around 7 pm the next evening. It was drizzling. We walked to the end of the platform with all our bags only to find the entrance of the staircase closed. How were we to go to the other side of the platform then? We wondered. And then we realised. We were supposed to cross the tracks! With all our bags. That is what everybody was doing. Great. This happens only in India. So with a lot of trepidation and fear of being run over by speeding trains, we carried all our suitcases and tried running across the railway tracks in the dark as fast as we could.

– We checked in to our hotel in Cochin, dumped our luggage there and freshened up before we headed out for dinner. We were to leave for Munnar by bus early morning the next day. So we wanted to have an early night. We dined at Grand Hotel. Mint feasted on the fish fry while I enjoyed the egg curry.

– We were in the bus by 7 am the next day. The drive was around 5 hours but seemed much longer. Perhaps I was impatient to get a glimpse of the mountains. I wasn’t disappointed when we reached. Misty mountains and tea plantations everywhere! So very beautiful.

– The bus dropped us off at the main market and from there we were to take a taxi up to our home stay. Mint thought it would be interesting to experience the local way of life there, so he told me we should use the local share taxi to get to our destination, instead of hiring a private one. I agreed a little reluctantly. They stuffed a million passengers inside a small jeep. I remember being elbowed and not having enough room to keep even half of my butt on the seat. And this, after we paid for an extra seat just so we had more room!

– It was a 45 minute drive and while I was cursing Mint for making me ‘experience the local flavour’ by having me thrown off my seat at each curve when I was already so tired, it began to pour! Mint and I had not even thought of this possibility. How stupid were we! All our luggage was placed in the carriers on top of the jeep. There was no plastic sheet shielding our bags. I glared at Mint. He apologised. I worried about the stuff inside our bags. I wondered if our suitcases were waterproof, and if they were, how much they could really withstand. It poured and poured and after about half an hour, I gave up. I was sure all our clothes and everything would be soppy wet. Needless to say, I was sulking and snapping at Mint.

– We reached our home stay in the afternoon. Our hosts were lovely and welcomed us with a lemon flavoured drink. I rushed up to our room to sort out our wet clothes. Although our suitcases were soaked, only the top layer of our clothes were wet. Not everything had been ruined the way I had feared. I spread the clothes out to dry and lay down for a long nap.

– With no agenda in mind, Mint and I stepped out in the evening. We were told to not venture beyond the lake as we might run into wild elephants! Whoa, this was really living in the wild. We could not stop marveling at the shining mist in the mountains, the picturesque landscapes and the fresh air.

– While we were taking in and admiring the sights around us, a group of local school boys called out to us. They didn’t know what language to talk to us in initially. And then suddenly one of them discovered that Mint knew Tamil. There was collective cheering and the boys began talking to Mint in Tamil. They even coaxed him to join in a game of cricket. We asked them about their school and their life up in the mountains. We love traveling to different places because of experiences like these. We get an opportunity to peak into the lives of the locals. There is so much to know and learn.

– Munnar is a beautiful place. I was surprised to see a lot of homes converting their small living rooms to a ‘hotel’. All they had to do was put up a sign with a name of their ‘Hotel’, describing what they served. I remember ringing the door bell of one such house/hotel and asking them what they had for us. The lady called us in, went to her kitchen and served us terrific dosas and chutney. She charged us a measly Rs. 30 for this. How awesome it is to get access to such delicious home cooked food packed with local flavours! I think this setup is the best way to learn about the people who live there.

– Talking about food, we were treated to a fabulous ‘sadya’ by our hosts the same day. I really couldn’t get enough of the flavours in their food. I was happy we had another 3 days in Munnar. We were resting, pigging out and going for long walks. Life was good. Until I fell sick.

– We noticed I was feeling unusually cold during one of our morning walks. So I wore a sweater while Mint made fun of me. I was also a little out of breath and was beginning to feel a little nauseous. By the time we went back to our home stay, I thought I had developed a mild fever. So I spent most of my day sleeping in.

– That night, I had the brilliant idea of washing my hair. It felt a little oily and I didn’t want to have oily hair in my holiday pictures. What a stupid idea it turned out to be. So I went for my hair bath while Mint was using the wifi that only worked in the living room downstairs. The home stay had gas heaters that did not work with the shower. I had to use a tap and a bucket. The problem was the flame in the heater would snap out every 2 minutes and the water would run cold. I tried working around it by having a supply of very hot water in the bucket.

– I don’t know what went wrong, but just after I had rinsed off the lather and used conditioner in my hair, the heater snapped off and didn’t turn on again. It happened at a time when I had run out of hot water in my bucket too. The water was ice cold and I was shivering. I couldn’t bear to rinse my hair with that water. So I wrapped a towel around myself and walked out of the bathroom. I called Mint upstairs to our room and begged him to fix the heater SOMEHOW. He took some time figuring out what was wrong and in that time I stood there shivering in my towel, with wet hair and water dripping down my back. I was feeling so cold, I thought I would faint.

– Although Mint fixed the heater, it worked only for another minute before the water ran cold again. I managed to rinse my hair haphazardly and stepped out, trembling from head to toe. My teeth began to chatter uncontrollably. I had my hair dryer and I used the dryer all over my body to get some warmth. The moment I would stop, my teeth would begin chattering. By now, I was running a very high temperature. I put my clothes on but kept using the hair dryer on my body constantly. I know using the dryer was destroying my skin. I could feel it get dry and burn, but I kept at it because I was so desperate for the heat.

– By night, I was sick like a dog. I had very high fever and I was throwing up so much, I felt like a puke factory. Even Mint, who is usually quite unfazed at such times, touched my forehead that night and said he was really scared. I was burning. I told him to not worry in my semi conscious state. We were to leave for Thekkady the next day, but with me so sick, we weren’t sure we could go anymore.

– I blamed the faulty water heater for this episode. Maybe not the throwing up, but the high fever could be attributed to my disastrous bath. Our home stay was lovely and very comfortable. We had taken for granted that they would have a running supply of hot water. Because that is a given. Next time though, I will double check and not take this for granted.

– Since we had to cancel our Thekkady trip, we tried to squeeze in some local travel in Munnar the next day. We decided to step out although I was sick. We called for a private taxi this time and I wobbled along on my unsteady feet. I had medicines for fever and a puke bag handy. We stopped the car each time I felt uneasy. On that day, we explored Munnar at length. The waterfalls, the tourist spots, the tea estate, the elephant camp, all of it.

– We checked out of our home stay the next morning. Staying there was a lovely experience. The hosts gave us a lot of information about the place and some useful pointers on what to do there. The food they cooked was heavenly. They even shared the recipes. Home stays are wonderful in that sense. However, if you are like me, that is, overly conscious about how much you bother people around you, then maybe staying in somebody’s house may not be the best thing. For example, I felt very guilty asking them to give me coffee at the times I wanted. I felt guilty asking them to serve me the lunch of my choice. Instead, I said I would eat whatever was easiest for them to cook. Yes, we were paying them for every little thing, so Mint said my behaviour didn’t make sense. I just felt obliged to not inconvenience them in anyway. I grant myself more freedom in a hostel or a hotel.

– We took the bus back to Cochin. It took us almost 7 hours because of the traffic. I spent almost all my time puking. I had a large plastic bag in my hand and by the time we reached, the bag was full up to the brim. Eeeks.

– We met our friends in Cochin and spent the next few days catching up with each other, exploring the city and gearing up for the baby shower. Before you ask, yes, we did visit Fort Kochi and yes, it was lovely. We flew back home after 8 days in Kerala. Although the trip had been fun, I was happy to be back home to the comfort of my room, the familiarity of my bathroom and shower and ofcourse, simple homely food.

The local school the boys we met studied in. I wondered if they took those views for granted..

 

View from the balcony of our room in the home stay

 

The merry water fall we passed..

The merry water fall we passed..

 

Anybody know what flowers these are? They were so eye catching, we couldn't resist taking a picture

Anybody know what flowers these are? They were so eye catching, we couldn’t resist taking a picture

 

Moi. Observing the mist that lay ahead..

Moi. Observing the mist that lay ahead..

 

In the tea factory. They actually allowed me to work the machines and  produce a whole batch of tea leaves..

In the tea factory. They actually allowed me to work the machines and produce a whole batch of tea leaves..

 

Beauty..

 

And more beauty..

And more beauty..

 

And more..

And more..

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34 Responses to “From God’s own country..”

  1. yaadayaada said

    Those flowers are fuschia.

  2. srividhya said

    Hi thanks for putting it up. Getting sick during vacation is the worst. I agree those places doesn’t have proper insulation n heaters. But altogether munnar n thekkady are really good. I have never been to kochi, been to trivandrum. . of course kochi is the heart of kerela.

  3. Ranjini said

    Those landscape shots look stunning!

  4. Bhavani said

    Lovely pics pepper…but what a bummer to get sick on a beautiful location like this…but glad you got better and managed to have a great time..

    -Bhavani

    • Pepper said

      I got better but I never fully recovered. It was 9 days straight of eating meals outside. At a time when my stomach wasn’t doing well. I was really happy to be back.

  5. Beautiful post! I love travelling to Kerala – we’ve been twice. Each time we visit, it has a different layer to it. We are yet to explore Munnar, though.

    I am so sorry that you fell sick during your trip! That can be one very irritating experience. I fell sick when I was in Kerala too, so I know exactly what you mean.

    Those flowers are called ‘fuchsia’. They grow in Ooty in plenty, too.

    I loved Fort Kochi. Did you get a chance to visit the Teapot Cafe there? It is quite famous. And Kashi Cafe?

  6. Smita said

    wow amazing clicks!!! And falling sick on a holiday is so bad!!!

    Of all the things what I connected most with in this post was “was happy to be back home to the comfort of my room, the familiarity of my bathroom and shower”….When I was in Noida in Oct I had a nice time but the day I was back home and took bath in my bathroom….that was the days when I felt really clean πŸ˜€

    P.S. I was planning to touch base with you to ask about where to travel if I wanna go somewhere nearby but then forgot!!!!

    • Pepper said

      Haan we’ve learnt to miss our bathrooms while on holiday πŸ˜€

      You can message me anytime na… I am always excited to give travel related gyaan.. lol.

  7. My Era said

    Fantastic pictures Pepper πŸ™‚
    Sorry to learn about you falling sick on your holiday. The second point made me smile, cause finally I have a written evidence that I am not the only one getting such gross thoughts during train travel πŸ˜€

  8. Aaah Kerala, We have been planning for this place from ages, but couldn’t visit yet.

    Beautiful photos and post, except that it would have been more fun if you hadn’t fallen sick, I really am scared of falling sick in a vacation , and home is always more sweeter after you are away from it for a time πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      I know. Wish I wasn’t sick really, but then I think that has motivated us to revisit the place and do all the things we couldn’t do in this trip.. πŸ™‚

  9. This reply probably doesn’t belong here but since I got the thought while reading this post, I’ll say it here. Before I began reading, my eyes flickered to your eye (on the top right) and I thought “have seen somewhere”… And while I was getting mesmerised by the pictures, I realised that I was thinking about Genelia D’souza! Your eyes and hers have uncanny similarities!! lol.. Nice post and I love the flowers too!

  10. I thought you were holding a bucket to puke into, in that tea factory pic πŸ˜› Isn’t my Kerala beautiful? I want to go there at least once again before I die 😦

    • Pepper said

      LOL! I know I said I felt like a puke factory, but you are not supposed to actually confuse it with a tea factory, ok? πŸ˜›
      I know, your Kerala is beautiful indeed. Hope you get to visit sometime!

  11. D said

    we are back from a small holiday in Goa. Home stay it was for us as well. However, while the trip was lovely, and first for us with K, I am doubtful I would opt for one the next time. The place was lovely…but i guess, with a baby hotels are best…the pictures are beautiful btw..:)..Weather in the hills can be tricky at times…

    • Pepper said

      Yes home stays are a little difficult in that sense.. they work well for people who mainly want to mingle with the locals and don’t have babies to take care of. Hope you guys had a good time though πŸ™‚

  12. MR said

    love munnar. I liked homestays but only when the 2 of us were travelling or i was with friends, with kids ( even older) its impersonal hotels that work for us.
    looks like it was calm and peaceful , except the sick part, but thats life.

    • Pepper said

      I think impersonal hotels are the way to go if you have kids. Especially young kids. I think older kids will be okay. I may still end up picking a home stay even with a young child if it is a lot cheaper, rather than foregoing the travel because of out of budget hotels though. Lol. We always try and cheap it out.

  13. Jaw dropping beautiful….those scenes and pictures!! The snowfall template effect on the blog, made the pics even more mystical πŸ˜€
    Have been to Kerala a few times as tourists, but not to Munnar specifically. Now, those mountains seem to be calling out πŸ™‚

    Psst: Salutes to your perseverance with that kinda throwing up and fever. You still went around and called it ‘lovely’. I don’t think I could do that in your shoes.

    • Pepper said

      I have a husband who loves being outdoor and keeps pushing me to experience the joys with him. The perseverance comes becomes I don’t want to be left out. Lol.

  14. Jack Point said

    Beautiful landscapes. I must visit, sometime.

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