Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Incredible India - Day 3 - Anaerangal, Tribal Village Trek & Tea Plantations

After our first night at Camp Anaerangal.
The next morning after a traditional Indian breakfast of paratha, dal, some curries and tea we went on a jungle trek through the spice plantations and to see the local 'tribal village'. This was basically a 5-6km hike around the surrounding area. We walked around the mountain and down a beautiful lush path through the forest and through a cardamom plantation into a small village of a local 'tribe'. They were friendly but very shy and coy, so they smiled and waved but kept their distance otherwise. The children were particularly timid and ran away if we looked at them, but would come peaking out to look at us if we turned around. We ended up playing a game of hide-and-seek with them by hiding behind a wall and they'd creep out until we looked around the wall and then they'd squeal with glee/terror and run away to hide. Only to come creeping out again if we hid again. It was quite cute.
We walked on past clumps of lemon- grass growing abundantly and wildly all over the place. Amazing! I wish I could get mine to grow to well! Then on through pepper trees (and also sheets of peppercorns drying in the sun) and a host of other spices, and fruits. We also got to pick and eat fresh ripe guavas right off the tree. They were delicious! We took a break on a rocky outcrop overlooking some ginger plantations and a huge lake. It was really beautiful. Then we trekked back had lunch, which was another spread of way too much delicious local fare. It seems that Keralan cooking is mostly vegetarian and quite mildly flavoured. It is all very spicey and flavourful but not super rich, heavy nor burney. It was really tasty!
After lunch we decided to go up to the tea plantations. Salim joined us and we hired a local jeep for an adventurous trip to the highest tea estate in the world – Kolukumalai – and visit the local tea factory there. The road is only accessible via 4x4 and is a steeps and fairly treacherous journey on a winding and rocky jeep tack. The journey took forever and went up and up and up and soon all of us felt pretty grim from the mix of heat, diesel fumes and bouncing and weaving in the back of the jeep. It was not much fun. To the point that we almost considered turning around a few times. The hair-pin bends were so steep that the jeep had to do 3 point turns to get around most of them too. Despite how awful we felt the plantations really are something to behold and are so lovely. Lush green bushes clumped all over the hills as far as you can see...
Finally we made it to the top and at 7200 ft and on the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu we were on the highest tea plantation in the world! WOW. While Salim and the boys decided to ride down the other side of the hill to the tea factory, A and I had had quite enough of the jeep and opted to walk down.
Once at the factory we each had a cup of tea. I found it a little too strong but it was lovely tea and quite something drinking proper tea in india right from the factory.  We then went on the factory tour and saw how the tea is processed from green leaves into the final black tea product. It is quite a process and effort and more goes into it than you'd think! They are still using the original old Brittish equipment (about 100+ years old) and the original process too. It's amazing to me how strict the quality process is and how many rounds of sorting and filtering there are, and how much 'wastage' there is, which gets composted. I found it really fascinating actually.
Once we were done it was time to board the jeep to head back. Only A and I decided we didn't want to do that, so while the boys hitched a ride we opted to run... yup that's right we decided to gallop down the mountain. So we set off and were laughably FASTER than the jeeps... literally we ran past 3 jeeps on the way down and waved to the slightly incredulous people inside as we passed. It was quite funny. :)
After about 10km and at the bottom of the main mountain and windy track we decided we'd run enough so we stopped and waited for our jeep and caught a ride for the rest of the way back to our camp. where I had a dung beetle encounter before dinner.
We had another delicious meal followed by more Poker, and went to bed quite tired after a full and active day.

Next Up DAY 4...

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