Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Munnar, day 2; a long walk through the land of endless tea

The morning had that sort of chill, gentle but sharp, just cold enough to make you decide not to get out of bed just yet. Anyway, the tea fields weren't going anywhere, I had no reason to get up...

Soon enough, the sunlight coming in the window coaxed me to get up and by the time I made it out the door, the misty morning was already verging on hot. I walked down to the main road, not knowing where I was going, it really didn't matter, I was there to see tea and tea there was to see, everywhere! 

Knowing I didn't want to head towards town, I veered right and walked, and walked, and walked. Except for a few house lots, an occasional boulder, and a trees here and there to make fire wood for fermenting the tea, every slope on every hill was entirely covered in jigsaw patterned rows of tea trees. The way the light reflected off the velvety bushes created a sort of peculiar contrast. Without a set destination, I didn't know how long I would walk for, I just knew I didn't want to stop yet. Even as it clouded over and a bit of drizzle began to fall, I didn't care. It just added to the atmosphere.

After two hours of walking, I spotted a waterfall through the hills, so I climbed down through the tea slopes, and followed a winding lane. Once there, it looked more like a small rapid than a waterfall, but it was still a nice spot to sit for a bit and there was a small tea house beside it. Climbing back up through the slopes, passing workers harvesting the thick, crumply leaves, following a paved road leading back to the main road, the sweet, warm sent of fermenting tea came wafting over the field. Around the bend, I could see a small tea factory tucked between the hills. As I walked by, I saw a small both in the side of the building where a man was selling factory outlet, one-kilo bags of Tata Tea (Tata is the company behind Tetley). He had a look about him that immediately trusted, as though in a past life we'd sat around a wood fire, brewing pot after pot of tea, enjoying stories I'd already heard a hundred times before. He picked out a bag for me and I handed over 120 rupees, about $3. The same bag would have cost nearly $100 in Korea.

Finally, I knew I'd reached my destination, and walked just a little further to a bus stop where I only waited a few minutes before I was on my way back into town. 

There weren't many recommendations for places to eat in the central part of Munnar, but I picked one and ordered another biryani. I wasn't crazy for the sliced boiled egg that had a strong odor, but I pushed it aside and inhaled the rest of the delicious food. 

Back at the guest house, yesterday's driver actually came looking for me and said to be ready at 4:30am, that he was going to take me to see the best sunrise in Munnar. There aren't many things I get up at 4 in the morning for, but say the word sunrise and I'll be waiting!


  1. Wonderful images of the tea fields. Thanks!

  2. Your welcome! I've been putting an obnoxious amount of photos, but I hope they give a sense of the daily journeys...