Elephants, tea plantations- no joke- this is the real Munar

Taxi rides are generally unremarkable- unless you're riding one 2,000 metres above sea level up a range of hills lined with lush tea plantations, sky-high trees, and dappled with bright bursts of flowers in full bloom. Oh, and scattered with larger-than-life elephants that ramble along the side of the road with their trainers.

The climb to the top of the Munar plantations was breath-taking: the green seemed to extend into eternity beyond the last hills, the fresh breeze tussling hair and bringing a smell of sweetness, the lush smell of fresh grass and leaves. The sun slowly rose from behind the foliage and set itself high into the clear blue sky, warming but not scorching.

It would be an understatement to say that this was a peaceful retreat from city life- heaven can't be described in such light terms.

What added to the magic was the colour of our guide's eyes: clear percing green/blue, set in a dark brown face. The contrast of colours was beautiful. Later in the day, my rickshaw driver looked me in the eyes with his pair of dazzling blue ones to quote me a price and I was once again in awe. 'Are you wearing contacts?" I shamelessly wanted to ask.
Back to aforementioned tour...

We were shown 6 hours of dizzying tea plantations, dazzling views, darling shops, and daring drops. At one of the look-out points, I sat on a rock for what seemed like hours. I gazed out onto the deep valley so far below and meditated on everything from finding inner peace to what I was going to eat for dinner (it turned out to be Chinese vegetable noodles and a "jumbo" sundae. Misleading description.) After climbing the 50 wide-spaced steps to the top of the trail, and finding my breath, we continued to more excitement.

But nothing could be more exciting than the day's previous activities. Mainly, this included riding a horse and an elephant. No, not at the same time! First a 10 minute jaunt down a reservoir-bordering path, riddled with brambles and flora. Then another 10 minutes atop the massive grey wrinkled back of Mina. These were only about 15 minutes apart, so I guess I was close to riding them at the same time?! Circus tricks, indeed.

Being atop a creature of that size gave me an entirely new appreciation for this earth and my role in it. I mainly thought of how insignificant we are as humans. And not in a cynical way. Look at the size of an elephant compared to any human! Puney, in comparison. I was lucky to see how magnificent and beautiful and gentle these animals are, which is more than many people can claim for themselves. All throughout the ride, I was feeling this elephant move beneath me and realized my love for animals all over again. A being like that should never be intentionally killed, and yet hunting and sawing off tusks is perpetuated in India and Africa.

After stocking up on masala tea, home-made chocolate, and an out-of-place "NY" hat (to rally the heat off my heat-stroke prone head) it was down hill and back to our amazingly cheap yet clean and quaint hotel for a rest-up.

Tomorrow is a new day, occupied with travelling back to the Flat, our home away from home. And believe me, rest is a must if planning to catch the train anywhere in India.

No comments: