A four-hour scenic taxi ride from Kochi took us to the busy little hill station of Munnar. Set amidst rolling hills of pristine tea plantations, it is a scruffy blot yet, easy to fall in love with. It’s cooler climate also makes it a refreshing retreat away from the lowlands of Kerala.

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In the town itself, there are some brilliant places to eat. One of the most memorable being a large open air food stall that seemed to cater for the manual labourers and truck drivers. We had a delicious meal there for the equivalent of thirty English pence each.

The shopping is pretty good here. We picked up a bundle of vanilla pods for a fraction of what they would cost in the UK and plenty of good loose-leaf tea. Something else that Munnar does pretty well is chocolate. There are some really good outlets in the main bazaar where you can pick up some tantalizing treats with a taste quite different from the South American varieties that we’re used to buying in the West.

We got up very early one morning to take an auto-rickshaw ride up to Top Station which lies on the mountainous border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and is the highest point in the region. To see the rising sun burning through the early morning mist and revealing jagged rocky peaks was quite spectacular.

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On the way back we stopped a couple of times to see some more interesting sights, including some honey combs hanging high up in the trees…

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We also had breakfast at a shack by a very beautiful and serene lake.

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Upon our return to Munnar, I decided that an Ayurvedic massage would be a good idea after spending three uncomfortable hours in the auto-rickshaw. Things started off quite nicely with a head massage but rapidly deteriorated when the hair-pulling, slapping, pummelling and thumping began. I laid there on the table, willing it to be over and then all of a sudden it was and I was staggering back to the hotel, dazed and confused and looking as if I’d been washed up in an oil slick.

It was at this point that I was ready to leave Munnar.

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