You know John Keats was wrong when he said, ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever!’? The fact is, we get used to beauty sooner than we realize. Waking up to a gorgeous woman/man every morning will be fancy for a year or two! Then mostly it would be how sweet or bitter she/he is to you! 😛 (Also, I’ve heard someone really wise say this; ‘For every gorgeous woman/man out there, there is a woman/man bored of doing him/her!’ It is originally a chauvinistic statement but I’ve customized it for the greater good! You’re welcome!) And precisely that happened on our vacation to Munnar!
Eh! Before you get me totally wrong…just look at the view! I thought I could never ever be bored of waking up to it! JUST LOOK AT IT! Add the constant sound of carelessly flowing stream to it and it becomes your personal paradise! (And then there was trouble in paradise! 😛 Go on! Get the entire scoop! 😛 )
Summer Vacay 2022
We did travel a bit before this one, making the best of WFH and SFH but there’s a major problem! While you’re at a beautiful location, technically you’re still working! (Ram and Kids I mean! 😛 ) So we yearned for a holiday where everyone is JUST holidaying! And we finally got the chance in April; kids had summer vacations and Ram was in between jobs so almost no work (notice period)!! We didn’t get booking in Club Mahindra but fortunately Karma had just acquired a new property in Munnar! So all smitten by the view from the room, I went ahead and booked one! 😀 (Plus there was an offer! 1 night free on 7 nights stay! Now, how can anyone say no to free stuff! 😀 )
It was a 9+ hours journey from Bangalore and we started at 8 am instead of 5, as usual! (What’s the point of travelling in your own car when you can’t alter the departure time! 😛 No one else was travelling with us this time around, so we had this luxury of dozing off for a few more hours! 😀 ) We had brunch at Salem which happens to be almost halfway to Munnar!
You know, the best part about travelling by road, is breezing through the changing the terrains! Damn! What a pleasure to drive through Anamalai Tiger Reserve with towering trees and awe worthy sceneries! And then the terrain changed as we ascended the beautiful hills of western ghats! It got better and better as we drove up the hairpin bends and then the beauty multiplied ten folds, as God welcomed us with a drizzle! Kids went bonkers as they saw the well manicured tea gardens the first few times…and then…umm they started focusing on what they generally focus on; their phones! 😀
It got dark as we tried to search for the resort and after taking a few wrong turns, we managed to reach! Turns out…It wasn’t exactly a resort! 😛 That was first red flag for Ram. It was a stand alone property with 22 rooms. The dream of going for long walks in the resort while kids would be in the room….shattered! 😛
Next, we entered the room and Gowshhh the view was STUNNING! The valley, the mountains, the clouds, the bridge on the beautiful stream and the harmony of the ever-flowing-stream in the background; in one line, it was breathtaking in 2D! My first thought was, I can NEVER get bored of this view! While I was busy taking it all in, Ram was aghast looking at the kids going about, doing their monkey business! 😛 And that was second red flag! 😛
“Because they’re OUR kids!”
I noticed he was a little annoyed and when I asked, he said, “WHY DID YOU NOT BOOK TWO ROOMS?” I said “We would have to use up double the points!” 😛 For the Gujju in me, the logic was simple, double the points means another 7 NIGHTS HOLIDAY! 😛 He responded with, “How will we stay in the same room with kids FOR EIGHT FREAKING NIGHTS?!” My answer was, “WE WILL because they are OUR kids?!” 😛
He wasn’t entirely happy with the scene considering the fact that we’ve to share the room with the crazy monsters for 8 nights…but I was kinda looking forward to it! At home, they’re mostly busy with their own gadgets and friends! Here, it was just us four! 😀 Finally, some family time!
Well, it was a small property so obviously there were no buffets which kids (& Ram) really look forward to during holidays! The restaurant was just a couple of floors down and to make it easier, there were two lifts taking us right at it’s doorstep! The view too was marvelous, actually pretty much the same view that we got from the room, just bigger coz the entire length of the restaurant was a big glass screen! Plus, the food was decent and decently priced too!
I was a happy gal but I wish I could say the same for the rest of my family! So, little disappointed with the food, we tried finding a booking in Club Mahindra and luckily the last night our trip was available! It totally made sense right? On day 7, check out from Karma and check into CM and then go home all happy and satiated! 😛 (However much I like it, free stuff doesn’t suit me anyways! 😛 )
Eventually, we ended up having a lot of our meals at The Panoramic Getaway where Amir Khan stayed during shoot of Laal Singh Chaddha…How did I know that? The wall leading to the restaurant was full of pictures of Amir Khan with the hotel staff, in his Laal Singh Chaddha get-up! 😛
When life gives you lemons…
It’s just human to improvise, right?! Next day went for a walk outside the property and it was quite an experience! We asked at the reception, the way to the stream and it was just a short walk from there! We got to the stream, clicked a few pictures and went on following the road aimlessly, talking about nothing in particular…life, kids, dreams…! After a while I wanted to turn back but Ram suggested we go a bit further…and you know, sometimes it’s just destiny! You are at a place where you were meant to be at that point of time in life!
We reached a beautiful stream where we could take stairs down the road and dip our toes! And you know how it is…starts with dipping your toes and within no time you end up getting into the water, giggling like a little girl! How I loooooooved sitting in the stream, playing with water as Ram made a few gifs! We sat there, talking some more…again, nothing in particular! 🙂
After a while, as it was getting dark, we had to go home but we decided to bring the kids there sometime! We wanted them to play in natural water bodies and experience how awesome it is, compared to the swimming pools and water parks! 😀 (In the hindsight…it was a terrible idea! It totally ruined the stream experience for US! 😛 When we took the kids to the stream, all we could do was scream at them coz they wont stop jumping from one rock to another and started disturbing the harmony of the stream by taking off the rocks from under the water and throwing them randomly while I kept worrying about them being bitten by a spider or some insect hiding under the rocks! 😛 )
The Seven Hill Trek
This was the experience I was looking forward to the most, in this trip! After an unsuccessful attempt at hiking to the heart shaped lake at Chembra Peak in Wayanad couple of months ago…I really wanted to do something that would make me feel accomplished! (Small goals buddy! 😛 ) I had done my research and booked a guided trek with Munnar Valley Trekking & Tours. They offered a moderate level trek along with breakfast for 800 bucks per person and I chose that coz everything is better with food, amirite?! 😛 Kids were too pissed to wake up at 6 am and get ready for the trek but we dragged them against their will coz, in a nutshell, that’s what parenting is! 😛
By 8 am we had reached the decided spot in Munnar village; SSM Cottage. We parked our car and met our guide, Samy JP who was fluent in English, German and French! I finally got a chance to show off my German/French skills! 😛 (Kidding! The only thing I know in German is “Ich Liebe dich” and coming to French skills, I can only demonstrate with action!! 😛 ) He told us that it would be a 14KM trek and first we would be going through the tea gardens, then seven hills, then forest where we could see the tree house and the tent house and then back to the meeting point.
At the back of my mind I knew that 14KM with kids would not be easy and Ram too wasn’t really ready for it but thinking logically sometimes isn’t the best strategy. So very gladly, I ignored that piece of information and moved on to the prettier parts! 😀 As we walked, he explained us about the flora and fauna around, along with some trivia! 😀
Going up the tea plantation was beautiful but also belittling! While the view from far is quite splendid, when you walk through the plantations, you feel so dwarfed! Like, you’re just a tiny speck in the entire scheme of universe! It is almost comical…how irrelevant you are when you place yourself on the graph of time and space of the universe! And in a weird way, it was liberating! Imagine, you’re so irrelevant that your actions are absolutely inconsequential! Ergo, you could go on and do as you please! Cool na?
As I climbed up a couple of kilometers in the company of my crazy thoughts, I realized Ram was already getting tired and so was Dhruvi…and then it hit me! We might not be able to make it even half way, let alone finishing the trek! After a while Ram announced, “Let’s go back, Dhruvi is tired…” (Omitting his name from the list very conveniently!) I started feeling this terrible low coz one; it would be my second time failing at something I really wanted to do and two, we paid bloody 3.2K for it! 😛 That’s where our savior Samy Jee stepped in! He told Dhruvi to walk just a little further and we would have breakfast and voila!! We reached our first hilltop!
Now that’s what we call breakfast with a view! We ate yummiest Poori-subji right off a banana leaf along with some fresh mountain passion fruits! IDK what magic potion the breakfast had but the kids were so thrilled and pumped up by the experience of conquering a hill and eating the desi breakfast…Dhruvi decided that she wanted to go further! 😛 (Poor Ram had no choice now….izzat ka sawaal! 😛 ) And that’s how we started our journey to the other four hills! 😀
As we walked, Samy Jee kept us entertained with the amazing information about the hills and the plants! (Some very important information like, the mushrooms that grow in Bison/Bull Shit are the ones called ‘Magic Mushrooms’ and they’re much more potent than marijuana! 😛 ) He randomly kept shooting fun questions at us! One such question was, what do you do if bees attack you…kids and I passed it over to Ram since he had more answers than us but he too did not know this one! Samy jee enlightened us with “You lie down! Bees only fly at a certain height and not close to the ground!” We said our “OHH I SEEEs” and moved on!
After a while he asked, what do you do if you find an elephant charging towards you…again we passed the question on to Ram who was now really breathing hard, grasping for air…nonchalantly, he said…”LIE DOWN??” While I giggled coz I knew he was just having fun…The guide was shocked! “You cannot lie down for everything, Sir!! You go running down a slope coz an elephant will not be able to follow you on the slope without tripping over due to his heavy weight!” :O Little did he know…Ram’s solution to literally every problem is, ‘LIE DOWN and TAKE A NAP (first)!’ 😛
Hill two, hill three, hill four, hill five….kids were all delighted and excited! I was too! Finally crushing my goal! There was only one person huffing and puffing and swearing at me for making him do things he never wanted to! 😛 (That’s marriage too, in a nutshell, right? 😛 ) So Samy jee asks Ram, “Sir, what is your age?!” Ram says 40 and the guide almost smirks…“I am 52, Sir!” 😛 While I knew Ram wouldn’t say anything then…he’s gonna bicker a lot about it later…Coz Samy Jee hit him where it hurts! 😛 (And he sure bickered like a little child, a little later in the day! 😛 “It is his job to hike! Ask him to come to my workplace and do the stuff I do!”)
After the fifth hill, Samy jee decided to show mercy and said we could directly go to the forest, skipping the last two hills! 😀 (To tell you the truth, I didn’t mind it! Was actually a little relieved to hear that!) And I swear know I’m being repetitive now BUT DYAMNNNNN! How mesmerizing are the jungles!!! Such gigantic trees! The thick fog! There was something in the air…may be just the amount of oxygen!! PURE BLISS!
So we follow our guide through the thick forest and reach a jungle resort restaurant! He asked Ram if he is a tea or coffee person…Ram said, “None” and I added….“He is a milkshake person, Bhaiya! And it shows, right?!” 😛 After a round of tea/coffee/milkshake, we checked out the tent house and tree house coz Dhruvi really wanted to! Interestingly, you cannot reach this jungle resort on your own…you park your car somewhere and then they drive you up the resort in their own jungle jeeps!
Battling the old demon
As we walked further down…we went through the tea gardens again…and since it was a slope downhill…there was a bit of waterlogging and hence, THE LEECHES! God! While the guide kept asking us to keep our cool and that firangs get the leeches treatment to get rid of impure blood…We were shit cared of them due to our tryst with them in Chikmagulur! The mini bloodbath on people’s feet! Yikes! I know we shouldn’t judge them by their looks, but did you ever notice how creepy they look? They’ve literally no body parts! Just a tiny hollow tail for a body which gets fat in no time as they suck blood off people! :O
And faaaaaak there were so many of them stuck to our shoes! The sheer number of them made it scary! A few even made it inside the shoes which made Dhruvi panic with fear! And while we get her shoes off and remove the leeches, they ventured into our shoes too! We almost ran downhill to the road! The sound of vehicles on the road was like music to my ears coz by now even my legs were giving up! And then we took an auto till the SSM cottage! 😀 In the auto with cool breeze touching my face, out of no where I felt that feeling I wanted to feel for a long time! Happiness of completing a proper trek! 😀 (Well, almost completing! 😀 )
The Next Day
However you try to trick your body into believing that everything is alright…the body is going to scream at you for shocking it without any warning! 😛 While kids were doing absolutely fine, I had bad leg pain and it was worse for Ram! 😛 We spent the entire morning and noon in recovery but by the time it was evening…I had that familiar itch…“Bore ho raha hai Ram, Bahar jaana hai!” 😛 So we went for a walk…even though Ram wasn’t ready for it yet! 😛 We walked towards our spot with the stream…(Looking back…it might not have been the best move! Coz it was all downhill from there! (No pun intended! 😛 )
Till now the trip was all hunky-dory and lovey-dovey, everyone was chilling and enjoying and now it was time for clash of the titans! 😛 So, hold your horses and enjoy the calm before the storm! Coz this time around, the kooky tale also includes the stunts pulled off by Mr. and not just moi in Munnar Diaries Part II! 😛
Meanwhile, temme, what according to you is the ideal duration of a holiday?! 3 days, 4 days or one full week or MORE? Would love to know!
From now on…you can not just read my blog but hear them too! That too…*in my own voice!* (Because Mr. Amitabh Bachchan initially agreed to do the voice over as charity for Kerala Tourism but later said that what I’ve written is total crap so he wouldn’t do it even if I paid him! Tough luck man! 😛 )
So especially for my friends who aren’t a fan of reading, here are the links to the podcast on your favorite platforms!
For Apple folks!