Munnar was our first introduction to the state of Kerela, a lush tropical paradise, which despite the relentless heat, stole our hearts. While Brian was on his private ATM retreat in Madurai, he decided that Munnar was definitely worth our time, and he couldn’t have been more right. It was beautiful.
Brian, Peter, and I met in the lobby of our hotel bright and early to leave plenty of time to walk the mile and a half to the bus station. We took a government bus for over six hours costing us less than $2 per person! While the price tag was super attractive, the bus ride definitely took several years off our lives. Graced with the deafening Indian music playing on repeat and the death defying mountain roads, this was by far the longest and most beautiful bus ride to date. Peter and Brian enjoyed watching me squirm in my seat every time the bus took a turn at 50mph barely avoiding a drop-off into nothing just inches away. There were even some points when Brian didn’t dare look out the window fearing what he would see (or not see for that matter) when looking down. I don’t know how the bus didn’t tip over because we were driving SO FAST. Sorry mom and dad, at least we are here to tell the tale!
As we continued to climb altitude, you could feel the chill in the air (the whole lack of windows definitely added to the cool breeze factor) and we really started to notice how much cleaner the air quality was. It was remarkable! It didn’t feel like we were in India anymore.
We arrived in one piece (phew) and decided to eat at Saravana Bhavan which became our goto spot for the rest of our time in Munnar. The food was delicious and the all you can eat thali for 80 rupees ($1.25) was incredible. Peter stayed at a guest house in town while Brian and I opted for one up in the mountains. We headed up to our guest house, Greenleaf Holidays, checked into our room, and took in the scenery.
Munnar reminded us a lot of Aguas Calientes in Peru, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Andes right outside of Macchu Pichu. We weren’t sure what it was. Perhaps it was the green mountains, the river running through the town, or the tiny bridges connecting the city together, but it painted a faintly similar picture of this quaint Peruvian city.
Fresh off my time at the ashram, I was still motivated to do yoga on my own (spoiler alert: this didn't last long). I set up my mat on our balcony, overlooking the foggy valleys, and dove deep into a morning practice as Brian went on a run through the valley. We have never been more appreciative of clean air and took every opportunity to embrace it. Feeling great after our workouts, we walked into town and had a delicious dinner at Rapsy Restaurant and decided to hire a rickshaw for a tour of Munnar the following day. We highly recommend doing the same if you are visiting and want to see everything this mountain town has to offer. The price is usually set at 800 rupees to tour the Mattupetty direction but we were able to negotiate down to 700 rupees (which is a whopping $1.50 difference). The tour has 13 stops and only five of them are worth spending some time at, but it was still an enjoyable experience. Just riding around in a tuk-tuk through the endless valleys of tea and the cool cardamon scented air was well worth the ten dollars.
At our final stop, Top Station View Point, we met a group of guys on holiday from their MBA program. They were awesome, and we became quick friends! One of our new friends, Nick, was from Kochi, our next destination, so we exchanged information and promised to meet up with him when we made our way there in a few days.
We headed back to town, met up with Peter for dinner at our favorite spot, and ended the night at a pathetic excuse for a bar, but enjoyed a couple cold King Fishers while we solved the worlds problems.
Our guesthouse, while beautiful, had the most uncomfortable beds and was unfortunately home to a family of giant cockroaches. It also didn’t have a working shower, resulting in lukewarm bucket showers every day. When we woke up that morning, we sadly realized that our shoes had been stolen from outside our door! It's customary to leave your shoes outside at the guesthouse and the property was completely gated. While it wasn’t anyone's fault but our own, hearing the guesthouse owner repeatedly tell us that a dog took four shoes from our front porch was beyond frustrating. We decided to head out that day, sans our Chocos and Tevas and learned our lesson after being Slumdog Millionaired. At least our packs were lighter!
Next stop, Kochi!