Off we go to Munnar
Impromptu plans are always the best. As we grow older, it becomes much harder to make friends get together and headout for the weekend without putting a thousand things in place. Being in Bangalore might be tricky and exhausting with all the traffic, but the good thing about this city is it’s always just a good bus ride away from the ocean, beaches, hills, and forests.
This was 2015. Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars was flooding the airwaves and everyone was going gaga over the new Star Wars film. Work had been exhausting and I had just caught up with my friends to grab a drink and vent. A few minutes in, we all realised we were in the same metaphorical boat and a much-needed break in nature would reset our minds. But where do we go? Where can we go that isn’t so obvious? Where can we go to avoid huge swarms of party people and overpriced food? After a lot of discussion and persuasion, we decided that Munnar was the place to go!
Why Munnar? Besides the gorgeous pictures we scoped through online, we realised that none of us hadn’t been there yet. How’s this possible? We’d all been to the beautiful state of Kerala multiple times. This was all the motivation we needed. We booked our bus tickets with a fairly questionable service, packed our bags swiftly and before I could fully come to terms with what was happening, we were in a cab heading to the bus station. The bus we booked was set to leave in less than 2 hours of us making this decision.
We arrived at the legendary Chickpet area, at 11 PM. None of us had ever boarded a bus here since us suburban kids wait for the buses to come close to us before we get on. This is the beauty of making plans on-the-go, you see everything in a new light. Seeing the hustle and bustle of an old Bangalore area close to midnight was a great way for us to start our Munnar adventure. As we sipped a cup of hot tea before we got onto our precarious sleeper, we were bursting with excitement.
The bus ride was eventful. The bouncy suspension coupled with creaky brakes did not let us sleep through the night. As dawn broke, we were happy to realise we just had another 2 hours before we’d get to our hotel. A hotel we had no idea about since it was a recommendation from a friend’s friend’s friend. It looked gorgeous on the website and that was all the convincing we needed. But before we could fantasize about a nice soft bed and a warm shower, we heard a noise loud enough to split the heavens. As a final chapter in our eventful journey to reach Munnar, this not-so-shiny bus had busted its rear axle and was refusing to move like a toddler in a toy shop. Oh well, this is what we signed up for.
What happened next was truly amazing. While we walked a bit further up the road to get away from the grunting bus and its disgruntled passengers, a kind gentleman in a shiny new Honda sedan stopped and offered to drop us off at our hotel, which was a good 25 kms away. Overcome with his kindness and a general sense of gratitude, we hopped in. What followed was an amazing drive through some of the nicest roads in this country. The views were truly breathtaking and we couldn’t have imagined that it would be this beautiful. Deadlines, work stress, and general apathy had evaporated from our bodies. We were in heaven. Every turn offered another postcard-worthy moment.
As the glorious fog lifted over the mountains, we rolled into our quaint hotel. A wooden cabin with a giant bed big enough for all of us. It was also easy on our pockets to all huddle up together in the misty Munnar weather. Tea, coffee, bananas, puttu, kadala curry, and many more things found their ways into our hankering bellies as the servers looked in awe at us, chomping down on everything they’d given us within a matter of seconds. After freshening up, we got into an old Jeep, which was driven by someone who was clearly half the Jeep’s age. But what a champ! Focused, courteous, knowledgeable and charming. If only all drivers would be like him, we would have no accidents or traffic issues. Watch this beautiful video on more such lovely people of Kerala!
Our Jeep made its way through a lot of challenging natural terrain to get us to see Munnar from some great vantage points. The air was electric and carried the natural effervescence of the incredible flora around us. Everyone was smiling and the tea was beyond comprehension. This was truly “Chai for the soul”. Lunch was another decadent feast and after completing the last bit of payasam, my eyelids were sealed shut. My body was horizontal and 4 hours went by in a flash.
That evening was euphoric. The hills came alive with the mellifluous symphony of woodland creatures harmonising with each other. We could hear a stream close by and we decided to go and explore it. It was so picturesque but as always, we had all left our phones in our rooms to charge. Oh well, this is for us to be in the moment I guess. The stream’s beauty distracted us from realising that we were being hosts to a bunch of leeches, who were helping themselves to some city-folk buffet. A bit of panicking and some basic survival knowledge helped us deal with our freeloading friends.
Dinner was more awesome food, which resulted in us sleeping super early and waking up to another beautifully foggy morning. It was almost as if we woke up in a Stephan King novel. Our trusty driver and his trusty jeep had been waiting for us. We hopped on board and what ensued was a day full of immersing ourselves in the Munnar experience. Pothamedu View Point, Mattupetty Dam, Anamudi and the Tea Museum were all the things I will remember forever. As we were getting back to our cabin for evening snacks, we couldn’t believe we had to catch a bus back to Bangalore that night. Denial hit us hard as we had tea and pakoras. What do we do? Do we skip out on work tomorrow? Do we stay another day? Should we hop on another bus and go to Alleppey?
We finally and grudgingly agreed that we’d be fired if we didn’t go back. So we took a breather from talking, sunk into our chairs, ate some locally-grown carrots and contemplated on how incredible our weekend in Munnar was. After a few quiet moments, we packed our bags, bid farewell to our cozy cabin, got onto a better bus this time, and made our way home.
We will always cherish the time we spent with you Munnar, you stupendous little hill town.