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Mountains, Spices and Tea

These are a few of my favourite things!!!!

After Trivandrum, I fancied a bit relaxation and a bit of comfort. The guesthouse that I was in for a month was fine but the bed was made entirely of wood with no springs and just a skinny mattress so needless to say i was on the look-out for a decent mattress again. Also, since leaving ireland hot showers have been very rare so that was high on my priority list too. Bearing that in mind, i wasn’t exactly hard to please when locating a nice destination for our travels again. I found my luxury at the lakeside in kollam. Kollam is a town in the famous backwaters on Kerala. We decided to stay in lovely bungalows beside Ashtamudi lake. It was great place to chill and we took a canoe boat tour around the backwaters. The backwaters are very famous in Kerala and are basically waterways that weave though villages eventually ending up in the sea. They support a lot of local villages through supplying fish, sand, transport etc. and are very peaceful to travel around. Many people rent the famous Houseboats and spend the night on the backwaters. We decided not to as it’s expensive and not that very environmentally friendly. The trip on the canoe boat was 3 hours long and was really beautiful and peaceful. It was enough to give us a good idea of life around the backwaters.

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After Kollam, we got a bus back to Kumily where Ger was previously. He suggested we go back as he thought I would like it there and he was right. Located in spice country, kumily is home to lots and lots of spice shops (plus delicious homemade chocolate :)) and is a very peaceful village. It is geared up for tourists as its popular with Indian tourists, its not hard to see why. Its very scenic, its doesn’t have the noise of the cities and you can get tours of the spice gardens which are very interesting. It is also famous for Periyar Tiger Reserve. It’s a massive national park home to tigers, monkeys, elephants, giant squirrels etc. It also has a beautiful lake. There are lots of activities inside the park and we done some bamboo rafting in the hope we might spot some of the wildlife. The rafting was good but it was very slow, Ger and I were hoping for a little bit more activity. There was also no shade on the raft so we very very hot. The scenery was breathtaking though so it was worth the visit. We didn’t see any wild tigers or elephants but saw some giant squirrels, bison, langur monkeys and some cool birds. The tigers are very rarely seen (probably for the best!!). I think the highlight of the trip to kumily was watching the langur monkeys from our guesthouse. They are meant to be quite shy but they appeared in the trees just beside our balcony and they are class. They are black, quite big and so human like. They are also quite rare outside of kerala so it was it was really amazing watching them hop from branch to branch. One other highlight was that i got some cooking lessons and learnt how to make my new favourite indian dessert - payasam. Its a rice dessert made on coconut milk, cashew nuts, cinnamon, jaggery (a natural sugar) and ghee (indian butter). It is quite sweet but yummy. (Dont worry mum if your reading this- your apple tart still wins out as my all time favourite)

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After Kumily, the next obvious stop was Munnar. It’s quite a famous area located high in the Western Ghats and home to thousands of acres of tea and spice plantations While the town is a just a busy market town, the surrounding areas are jawdroppingly beautiful. High rise mountains with tea plantations growing all over them. Munnar is quite high – 1500m so the weather is cooler and due to the mixture of the weather and mositure, Munnar rivals Ireland in its greenness. There is lots to do also with trekking being the most popular due to the variety of landscapes. We stayed in a guesthouse that organised mountain trekking trips so we done a full day trip with them trekking across the mountains, teas plantations, cardamon forests to arrive at their sister cottage located in the hills. It was very tough, took around 7 hours and a night in the cottage but it was worth it. The views were spectacular and it wasn’t hard to see why Munnar is a popular honeymoon destination. After this I had booked a place called Kaivalam Retreat that was meant to be a peaceful haven tucked away in the middle of the plantations and specialising in yoga. It sounded perfect but I was a bit apprehensive that it wasn’t going to be all it promised. It was also more expensive but I was hoping it was worth splashing out. We found our way to the entrance laneway of the place and gave them a ring. They picked us up in a jeep and drove us down into the plantations. When we finally arrived, i knew it would be money well spent. I felt like I was on honeymoon again, the place was so idyllic and peaceful. One whiff of this luxury and it didn’t take me long to abandon my harderened traveller ways. In my best spoilt brat voice, I proclaimed to Ger that I was staying there until next June and that was it :) After two wonderful days of yoga, amazing food and scenery, I knew i had to say goodbye to my paradise! We boarded the local bus and left the mountains to continue our journey to our final stop in India – Cochin.

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Dodging Mosquito Status: surprisingly good, i think they dont like our blood as much any more- serves them right!!!they took enough of it earlier on in the trip.

Posted by ofenelon 02:17 Archived in India

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Nice post

14.10.2012 by Anil

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