God’s Own Country

Kerala is a state in southwest India, and it’s nickname is “God’s Own Country“… it totally deserves the moniker.

picture next to "picturesque" in dictionary

should be the picture next to “picturesque” in the dictionary, na?

I was able to get a driver to take me from Kochi to Munnar, a tea plantation town in the Western Ghat mountains in Kerala (when I hear it pronounced, it sounds like: Ker-luh, but I think there is an extra syllable in the middle that I’m just not hearing because I’m not used to the language). Before I came here, whenever I asked people where I should go in southern India, they all said Kerala, but I wasn’t sure where exactly in Kerala I should be. Then I talked to someone from Kerala, and he gave me a short list of the best places, which I then googled, and Munnar looked amazzzzing! So, that’s where I headed👍🏼.

me & Sanju driver

me & Sanju (driver)

We stopped on the way for lunch, and at this restaurant, I noticed a sign by the women’s restroom…

why??

why??

When I was taking a picture of the sign, a guy who worked there came over to me and told me that foreigners always take a picture of the sign. I tried to explain to him why it seems funny – because it leads people to believe that vomiting in the wash basin happens really frequently, and then it’s funny because you wonder why it is a problem at this particular place – but he didn’t understand me. He just said, “Many women, they do, and they should go outside.”  OKayyyy😂

Driving around Munnar involves all hairpin switchback turns on a road that is just wide enough for two vehicles. But the viewwws!!!!

view

view from my hotel balcony

switchback road… endless amazing views

switchback road… endless amazing views

tea trees

tea trees

Munnar town

Munnar town

town view

town view

❤️

❤️

DSC04683

town

The tea plantations cover the mountainside, growing on angles across the steep slopes. The tea leaves are harvested by hand, either by picking or cutting off the top with a handheld scissor/basket contraption. The leaves are taken off the top every ~10 days, and the same trees just keep growing and producing for years and years. Apparently, there is a tea tree in China that is 1,800 years old! Because the leaves are harvested regularly, all of the trees are the same size and shape, which adds to the beauty of the mountainside. To me, Munnar is a greener, hillier, and *dare I say* prettier version of Napa. Not saying it’s better because, I mean, it’s tea not grapes… But definitely prettier.

GREEN TEA

GREEN TEA

colorful houses

colorful houses

tea and eucalyptus trees

tea and eucalyptus trees

Amongst the tea trees, they also grow eucalyptus. And most of the spices grown in India come from the regions around the Western Ghat mountains (part of the Western Ghats is even called “Cardamom Hills“!). So, growing here is also ginger, pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, turmeric… more I’m sure, this is just what I saw. Because of all this, there are ayuverdic “hospitals” throughout Kerala that use these different herbs and oils that are produced for massage and holistic treatments.

On top of that, coffee and CACAO trees are grown here… which means chocolate is made and sold everywhere

DSC04684

really good

CHOCOLATE

white chocolate

OF COURSE I went overboard and bought too much, so I sat at one of the tourist stops and ate half of it with a boy who was selling pineapple instead of going to school😕 Maybe it made his day good? Or maybe it just gave him a sugar rush, and his mom was cursing me when he got home😏

Even the nighttime view at my hotel was lovely.

night view - Munnar hotel

night view – Munnar hotel

night view of hillside

night view of hillside across the valley

I visited a rose garden and a tea museum…

fuchsia flower - summer island riverhead?

fuchsia flower – summer island riverhead?

fuchsia

fuchsia

rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

something pretty

but I did promise you pictures of one

ornamental pineapple😆 I still wanna eat it

ornamental pineapple😆 I still wanna eat it

these lucky flowers have this view all day, every day

these lucky flowers have this view all day, every day

rose garden

rose garden

rose garden

rose garden sandals

rose garden

rose garden

rosey

rosey

rose garden

rose garden

orchid row

orchid row

rose garden

rose garden

rose garden

do you see what I see?

rose garden

rose garden

rose garden

rose garden

At this time, in the garden, with the sun beaming down on my skin, greenery everywhere, the smell of the flowers, and the view of the hillside, I said to myself, “I can’t believe I get to be here right now.” I felt Joy.

I also checked out the local tea museum… which ended up being owned(?) by the biggest tea-making (British) company in town… Which meant that the start of the tour was a 20-minute self-serving, bombastic video talking about how this tea company brought healthcare to the local people.. and I all but lost it when they were singing the virtues of employing women by saying, “The women proved to be particularly skillful at being able to pluck the tea leaves quite efficiently.” Are you fucking kidding me? So I walked out and began my self-guided tour.

DSC04674

tea leaf processing

After meandering, I joined a group in the factory, where there was a guy explaining more about tea. His primary assertion: Drink more green tea! Why?

He said:

  • You see the Chinese and Japanese – do any of them have big bellies? NO!! It’s because they drink green tea all day!
  • Chinese and Japanese never pass gas because they drink green tea all day!
this guy - hilarious

this guy – hilarious

He was awesome. They do drink green tea all day. Well, that’s what I saw in Japan anyway.

green tea!

green tea!

view outside tea museum

view outside tea museum

not a bad place to have recess

not a bad place to have recess

I saw a few more sights in Munnar…

mattupetty dam

mattupetty dam

mattupetty dam view

mattupetty dam view

echo point

echo point

kundala dam

kundala dam

kundala dam view

kundala dam view

pretty trees

pretty trees

pretty, colorful girls

pretty, colorful girls

It is really weird getting stopped by people and being asked to take pictures. It’s happening in India a lot. But it didn’t bother me when these ladies asked because I wanted a picture with them too😊

Balcony soundtrack…

This tree is overloaded by beehives!

honey tree...

honey tree…

omg

omg – beehives

tea plantation

tea plantation

Next up: Indian Culture Review

3 Comments on “God’s Own Country

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