So we had a driver booked for a days sightseeing round Munnar, it is basically a tea plantation area that has other ‘attractions’ to see. Our hotel, which was clinging to the side of a tea plantation hill and required a ramshackled old Jeep to take you to and from the main road down a perilously steep and windy barely single track lane, organised the driver for us. I say organised, it seemed more like when we got to the main road any taxi guy there was offered the job, rang our hotel to check what they said we wanted then we set off on a mystery tour of sightseeing in Munnar. First off we were offered to go and have rides on an elephant, being animal lovers we declined that opportunity. We were then taken to the flower garden, which was full of Indian tourists and English flowers – dahlias, roses, petunias, busy lizzies, hydrangeas, geraniums, marigolds (Guy described it as paying to go in a garden centre). Then it was on to the Maddulpy dam, which is a massive wall of concrete, like all dams, with beautiful lake and views one side, and very little besides concrete the other. Oh, and lots of Indian tourists, pineapple sellers and the usual shooting range where you can pay to shoot at balloons. We were then onto a viewpoint called Echo Point, which seemed to be a beautiful view ruined by tourism, there were hundreds of stores selling local crafts and homemade chocolate – from local cocoa beans, and woolly hats and scarves – always handy for when the temperature drops below 30 degrees! Our driver then took us to a vegetarian restaurant, at which the waiter suggested we have VIP thali, which we agreed to. Our came a huge metal plate, with no less than 11 different curries in 11 small metal bowls, mini poppadom, 2 chappatis and a huge mound of rice……..so much for the weight loss plan! The waiter then spent the next 5 mins trying to explain to us uneducated foreigners which curries we eat with chappatis and which with poppadom and how we pile the rice up, mix it with curry and shovel it into our mouths (no cutlery) . As soon as he walked off we had forgotten which curry went with which accompaniment and carried on regardless, until he passed us, caught us doing it wrongly, and explained it all again! Regardless of our dreadful ettiquite the curries, all 11 of them, were delicious, and, somehow Guy managed to fit in seconds of a couple of them! Not bad for £2.60. After this we thoroughly washed our hands of curry, and carried on our tour, next was the tea plantation museum, 75p entrance fee. This was the best part of the day, apart from the curries, obviously! You walked in and were welcomed by a gentleman, who was at least 80, who gave us a small cup of chai. The walls were plastered with green tea propaganda – not needed for us two green tea freaks! Then we saw the processing plant still working from the days of the British, then we saw a video that was supposed to be 28 mins 55 seconds long, but the guy running the film thought it best we didn’t see the last 30 seconds and it was cut abruptly! Still the film was informative, I am not sure all the facts were entirely correct, however it was caveated with ‘not all of the following film is factually correct’ which I thought was refreshingly honest. As it was only 2pm by this stage, we think our driver was trying to fill time and then took us to another garden, only 10p entrance fee this time. And not much different to the one before, just planted over a larger area. Still I thought it was lovely, not sure Guy was so chuffed! Then we asked our driver to take us back as we weren’t sure how many other sights we may need to see before he thought we had had our monies worth.
Our advice after today is Munnar is good for tea plantations, but I couldn’t recommend it otherwise.