What a beautiful day today on a Sandal Valley Tour! This was the day of nature and village life.
The night was quite cold, so I slept under two blankets. After a short exercise and a cold shower I went to my favourite restaurant where I had the most delicious samosa dosa ever.
After a while Tessa came along, and she drew my attention at some point to an Indian girl in the back of the room who looked like a backpacker.
Morning in the forest
Good morning, Munnar
Flower garden on the outskirts of the town
Interior of the popular tourist restaurant in Munnar close to the Tourism Office
I’m loving’ it.
Indian girl travelling alone? That’d be very unusual, or even incredible.
It turned out Anithra was indeed of Indian origin, but she was a Singaporean. What a coincidence – the first person from Singapore I’ve met here. We exchanged contacts, and she gave a very nice peacock weather to Tessa as a gift.
The Sandal valley tour organized by the Tourism Office was stunning. We were a small group of six people: Tessa and myself, Audine – a French chemist doing research in Mumbai, and a beautiful Indian family of four people, including two little kids.
Our driver was our guide at the same time, and he turned out to be super knowledgeable and helpful. I continue this post with a series of photos with comments.
This is one sort of plant, but it produces three types of tea – white (flowers), green (top leaves), and black (bottom leaves).
The water is icy-cold and fresh.
Villagers selling food (including such exquisites as quail eggs) and souvenirs near the waterfall.
Monkeys hunting for food bought by tourists
Very rare and expensive sandal tree used widely in medicine. One kilo costs 13 000 rupees (215 USD).
The smell of a sandal tree is pleasantly sweet and can’t be compared to anything.
Lemmon grass – smells like fresh lemon!
Brown sugar cane
Another fantastic viewpoint
Entrance to the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary. The grey squirrel is a unique species in the area.
One of the most memorable moments was when two guides took Tessa and me on a short walk across the forest, while the others were spending time in the sanctuary.
We crossed a mountain stream with rocks, saw footprints of a bison, a big banyan tree, fresh footprints of an elephant (as it turned out the guys from our group eventually saw elephants in the park) and, most amazingly, two beautiful grey squirrels. We were told we were very lucky as these squirrels could be found only there.
Exploring the area off the main road
I don’t know what I was glad about most – an opportunity to have a brief look at the secrets of the forest life, or the kindness of our guides who just took us there even though they didn’t have too, as we didn’t enter the sanctuary officially.
Overhead bridge for the animals
Lady from the tribal village making tea
The ride back was like a rodeo – fast, zigzagging, bumpy, and a bit tiring, but I was happy.
Tessa was telling stunning stories from the Hindu mythology, and I felt I was appreciating Munnar and India even more. At some point, however, I started to lose the train of thought and tried taking a nap.
Upon return our guide took Audine and me to the Ayurveda clinic, where we signed up for the Ayurveda massage for the next day, and got a discount as guests of the Tourism Office.
I had my last dinner in Munnar with Tessa. As usual she gave me lots of useful tips on where to go and what to do along my journey to Goa. Now I have another destination to stop by. Tessa has shown me real Munnar, and thanks to her I have fallen in love with India even more. I wish I’d remain as thirsty for adventure and exploration when I’m retired. I’m extremely happy that I have met this fantastic person.
After the massage tomorrow morning I’ll say farewell to Munnar.