21.12.2011 - 22.12.2011 23 °C
Day 83: Munnar, Kerala 21/12/11
Up very early for our tourist excursion, with us being picked up at the hotel for 6.30am. In the car is a French mother/daughter combo and a German couple. The minibus takes us out of the Kochi area and through areas of lush green vegetation and tropical looking waters. Suddenly the bus stops and the driver orders us ‘follow’, points down an alleyway and we are with a group of elephants and their handlers. We follow them down to the river where the bad tempered, cane happy owners and their elephants are ready for bathtime. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to interact with the elephants ourselves, a rule we discovered when Gemma went to touch an elephant and subsequently received a bamboo cane around the wrist for her troubles!
We stop at a spice farm – pretty interesting and some great smells coming out of the gardens here and we are able to purchase some bargain spice mixes and chocolate before we continue on through the stunning surrounding countryside in the minibus, visiting some waterfalls and the obligatory piles of Indian rubbish. A short stop at a tea farm/museum results in being given some very sweet tea.
The absolute highlight of the day comes in the evening, when the owner of the guesthouse we are staying at tells us of a festival in the village. We make our way down there to be greeted by a procession of hundreds of brightly dressed dancers, loud music, a Keralan drumming band, people dressed as birds and monkeys in trippy, psychedelically coloured outfits and a huge gangster jumbo, straight from Pimp My Elephant. The parade snakes its way through the village to the local temple, where the drummers and dancers go into overdrive beneath a sky of fireworks. An incredible experience, where there are lots of friendly, excited people. Perhaps the best part was when a young man I speak to describes my hair as ‘awesome’.