19th September 2012
“4am we have to leave the hotel to drive to Munnar” Manoj my driver said... oh well - I thought!
There was a fuel strike, which meant no vehicles were allowed to drive from dawn to dusk on the roads around Kerala. If we had tried to drive during the fuel strike, we would have been stopped by protestors or run into blockades on the main road. I had forgetten the 'charming' unpredictability of travel in India and it brought back memories of my days on the road, tour leading for five years in various countries. So to avoid any hassle, I dragged myself out of bed at 4.15am and departed Cochin to drive to the town of Munnar before the protestors were even out of bed.
The Indian government had decided to increase the price of diesel by 5 Rupees a litre. It’s now 50 Rupees instead of 45 Rupees a litre. When it was announced both the UPA allies and the Congress opposition party took to the streets in Kerala, protesting and asking the government to revoke its decision immediately. The local people in Kerala were up in arms as the cost of living had increased again! The fuel increase makes a massive impact on their daily lives, as the price of their daily commodities such as milk, rice and vegetables (brought in from Tami Nadu) had increased, as the transport companies had no choice but to put the price of food up to cover the hike in diesel to deliver the goods. Also, a bus ticket or taxi fare now costs more.
The journey was slow as the road was small and narrow, winding its way through the hills in the early morning light. Just as the fog had lifted and it became brighter, I could see the lush green forests of the Western Ghats and rolling hills covered with tea plantations, the scenery was stunning. We finally arrived at the Windermere Estate in Munnar, my hotel for the night located on 60 acres of Cardamom and Tea plantations.
I have attached some pictures of Munnar to this blog and a short video so you can see what it's like. However, you really have see it for yourself to appreciate the beautiful surroundings. I am glad I arrived early as I had more time to explore the local surrounding and took a guided tour into the plantations, which takes you into the forest where you can see spices, tea and coffee growing.