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|9th October 2008, 16:30||#1|
Munnar strikes again!!!
Looks like half of T-bhp has already been to Munnar so I will just focus on the pictures and parts which other people never reached (sounds like a Heinekan ad!)
We chose to leave on a Sunday assuming that the Kerala rush and less traffic would come into play and the gamble paid off!
We left at 5.45am, xenon’s lit up the road as we cruised through Hosue. The Hosur roadworks are scary as one has no clue where the diversions start and finish. Past Hosur, the roads are a dream. I made a rapid pace but left plenty of reserves of power for overtaking.
As usual the trucks played their 35 over 32 overtaking manoveure. Plenty of suicidal Tavera’s challenging me at 100+ km/h. I let them go rather than have them out of control around me. Of course, they slow down when they reach a truck and take time to build up speed. The RS would have come and gone by then. We had a few tricky situations - three of them in fact,
Yhey also overtook traffic. Imagine overtaking these, you want to take a leak, we start all over again!
After Krishnagiri, the road gets a little tricky due to the four lane construction. It was a lot better that before partially due to very little traffic. My car and a new Honda CRV made good pace although spotting diversions was tricky. Suddenly we found we were on the left hand side and the Honda was on the right hand side, both cruising at 100km/h, look like one of those “Amazing video clips” without the cops.
At Thoppur, we turned off onto the Mettur road. On the way, we saw some Rajasthani Nano’s!
We continued upto Bhawani. The traffic was minimal and road was good.
Another plus was that being tree-lined, it was shady.
|9th October 2008, 16:41||#2|
And then, my wife proclaimed that she was bored and wanted to drive. Gulp, she has not driven on the highway much and she has never driven the Skoda! I said: "after the Perundulai turnoff!"
Got on the NH47 again and approached the Perundulai. Plenty of confusion as the map said turn left and the locals said go straight. We later realized the highway veers right and we need to go straight.
Madam takes over and struggles with the fact that the car is heavier in feel to her swift but she gets used to it and rather likes the feel but is not at ease with 5th gear. Next minute, I find she is roaring into villages a bit to fast so I nag her to slow down. I plan to take over at Dharapuram but only get the wheel back at Udumalaipet when we tank up.
(over lunch, she told the Old Man a totally different story about how i wanted to take the wheel back!)
On the way, we take more pictures of windmills.
The General (my father in law) and wife are driving upto Cochin to meet us in Munnar. We get an SMS that they are just starting. The forest section begins
Already warned – it was a case of
Name, car, reg no, no of people, driver, ? before he could asked, I signed and left a tenner in the book
Drive another Km
Ditto, another tenner
Drove for another 10 km and two more barriers within 200 mtres of each other! I gave up and stopped giving.
Speed limit was 40km/h. Sounds slow but it made sense due to narrow roads and wildlife around the place. We never saw anything but the scenery was amazing.
At 3.30, we roll into Munnar, am following directions to the High Range Club to find the bridge closed up. Suddenly the phone buzzes. It is the General! “You are lost!”, They had driven past us and spotted the RS with maps flying out of the window. We meet up and take the new route to the Club. We arrive .
Registration over, we are shown to our rooms. As Bangalore Club members, we get a 15% discount. It is a rustic old place. Not much life since the Kerala government took away the bar license. The bar is awesome and the Genreral swears by the barman’s bloody mary’s. The Men’s bar is old fashioned and made of teak and full of trophies! The club rules cente around ensuring children are not too wild in the premises and dress code. Saturday night is jacket and tie!
Normally, on the weekend, the Tata Tea crowd hang out and socialize. The manager’s wives actually run things behind the scene. The General and I check out the Golf course. Alas they are removing the overgrown grass, we might have a chance on Tuesday!
My daughter makes some friends and plays In the play area. We hang out in our room upstairs. We have the landing to ourselves so we have a nice cup of tea. Now, I had something very important to do. Singapore Grand Prix. Flick the TV and disappointed ot find that no Star Sports so I curse. Snooze, wake up and try to see if I can get an update. I suddenly find that I am watching the race but in Russian! The commies really influenced the media!
My daughter pops in and tells me there is a media room with Tata Sky. I run and watch from Sutil crashing onwards.
We then have dinner, awesome south Indian three course meal. Pretty rich! Meanwhile, I have befriended the Secretary and he pops in during the meal, well almost every other time to see how things are!
Last edited by ajmat : 9th October 2008 at 16:45.
|9th October 2008, 16:41||#3|
Join Date: Jul 2005
Thanked: 36 Times
Ah buddy, you jus left the nice travelogue at that place where I can't think of whether to hook onto net or not. Please pour in the sugar man, it started to interest me about the drive of your(was it a Swift/Honda city that you drove) and the CRV.
|9th October 2008, 16:46||#4|
|9th October 2008, 16:58||#5|
Day2 – We wake up to some fresh coffee. I walk around the club garden
After a hearty breakfast, we jump into the skoda and go to Rajamalai to visit the Tahr. The General is paranoid about buses and mountain driving and his right hand makes signals when to horn etc (he was part of the Army Jonga team in the Himalayan rally and crashed out!) On the way, I see this magnificent view.
Prasad14 has explained a lot. My additional inputs are that you have a better chance in the morning to see these animals. Pay and queue up fpr the bus. Enroute, we are shown the highest peak in South India - Animudi
The General and wife join us on the climb but we see a Tahr grazing in a bush. Mission over, they sit at the bottom of the hill and we trek up.
Come across a small stream, my daughter hotfoots it to cool her feet~
We trek to the top and return to base, bus and back to the club. Meanwhile, we have been invited by a senior manager of Kannan Devan Plantations for Dinner.
Formerly Tata Tea, KDHP (Kannan Devan High Range Plantations), was spun off to the management. Tata still hold 20%. The workers and management hold the remaining stake and an employee and a staff member is on the board. All unions are taken on board and hence a lot of pride and ownership on how things are run. The kerala government is accusing them of land grabbing but they can produce documents dating back to the early 20th century documenting the land.
Only 33% of the land held is cultivated, The remaining is kept as forestry to preserve wildlife and not to disturb migration routes.
We return for a hearty lunch and a nap. At 4.30, we drive to Mattupatty dam, everything is closing down for the day but that is fine. Some dusk pics over here.
Return back to get ready for dinner. Our host arrives and we follow him. The road is awful and the Skoda scrapes its way. Should have taken the Santro! BTW, the Skoda is a mess due to the dusty road building en-route.
The planters live in rustic style, wood floors, high roofs etc. The houses are huge but the life is lonely, us city kids will go mad after a while. The house is located near an elephant migratory path so you get the occasional herd passing by every other week. Dinner over, we scrape our way back. The hostess has kindly offered to take us to Kundale club tomorrow. It is supposed to be spectacular.
|9th October 2008, 17:08||#7|
Wake up and The General and I play a round of golf. Course is cleared but a little rough. Two caddies appear. They look familiar; of course, it is the barman and one of the cooks! Course is fun but challenging as balls get lost in thick grass. We finish and have a late breakfast. The ladies decide to walk up to an old church and look around
We then hit the tea museum. I was not expecting much but it was well done. An old processing plant is laid out for people to see. After a refreshing cuppa, you are shown a movie documenting the history of tea in India and on how Munnar developed. Return for lunch as predicted, the secrtary makes his appearance to see how things are going. Our hostess arrives and we drive to Kundale.
We head out. Am chasing a Verna CRDi, the ladies are in it. Driver is in 4th gear and relying on brakes only to control car due to the torque! General is giving his hand signals. I switch to the London Philharmonic Orchastra and he forgets about the road and conducts the orchastra instead! Beyond Mattupetty, we suddenly stop. The scenery is amazing. We spot a herd of elephants in the distance at the water but damn, my wife left the zoom lens behind to lighten her bag. The boats harass the elephants so they retreat.
Look at the little specs in the top of the pics
10 km down the road, we turn off into a manned gate and scrape down the hill! Road improves and we drive slowly for another 10 km. It felt like eternity. Pass through the plantation school. All the kids are returning home. They take the opportunity to sign their names on my dusty car.
We ride past green tea bushes, then forest, then more tea. I am wondering what an earth is this for?
Suddenly the road widens out and we find ourselves in, well looks like heaven. Hidden in the forest is an amazing golf course / open plain. There is a cute club house. This is Kundale The General decides, we got to play a few holes. We SMS the manager for permission and we take a few clubs and play. My daughter becomes a caddy.
Let the pics do the talking
I’ll let the pics do the talking. Next time, I must hook up with someone to play the whole course. Judging by the dung, plenty of elephants passed by. YOu get 100+ bison hanging out at nght. Alas, the club has no overnight facilities.
Twilight approaches and we need to leave before the plantation roads are closed for the night. Reach back for a much promised meat pie (specially ordered by us).
Tomorrow, it is over to Cochin!
|9th October 2008, 17:21||#9|
We sighted the new moon over a sundowner!
Now it is time to make our way down. I harass the secretary to get the bill ready before The General comes along. "different type of son in law" says he, "most others let the father in law pay!"
Slap on a long shirt and a pair of jeans for breakfast and then we load up the cars. The skoda boot amazes me - a mother of a sub, a bag of tools, a golf set, a suitcase, a soft bag and a strolley plus some odds and ends all fit in.
The General and wife take off and we want to do a couple of things. (one of them is not to follow the santro!)
We pop into a nursery for some plants and to the Kuranji store (The welfare shop run by the wives ) for some jam and we set of to Cochin. The road out is a bit rough but gets smoother. Again it is narrow, but more overtaking opportunities exist. I keep my headlights on so that people see me and I see that they have seen me. Half of cCochin is driving up!
The towns are quiet. We go via Aluva as the traffic is thinner and make it in 3.5 hours.
Unload and later in the evening, the Skoda gets a well earned wash. I cover it and retire it till the return back.
That journey took 10 hours including a 1 hour break. Coimbatoire to Bhawani was hell. TN37 drivers are more suicidal than malayali bus drivers!
|9th October 2008, 17:33||#11|
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|9th October 2008, 18:24||#15|
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