We woke up early to go to breakfast, re-pack and check out by 9:00. At breakfast, they made us plain omelets and there was some cereal and bread which was perfect for us. Re-packing meant getting out of ariplane mode, into more appropriate shoes, and having a light backpack available.
Munnar is famous for its tea plantations, so we went first to the Tea Museum, which was interesting and showed a well-made documentary depicting the history of tea in the area up to the present-day. Much of the tea manufacture is employee-owned now, which fits right in with the state of Kerala having a democratically elected Communist government! We enjoyed the tour, and then started off for another arduous and long drive to Thekkady where the Periyar Wildlife Reserve is. We stopped to take picture of the rolling hills and tea plantations - very beautiful. We left in pouring rain and fog, but the weather got better as we drove nearer to Thekkady. At a later point, we stopped to see a group of FIVE wild elephants way off in the bush. That was amazing to watch them feed and drink with their trunks and too see their ivory tusks. There were a couple of young ones - We have no idea if it was a family or a group of females and their young. These elephants are brown, rather than gray!
Matthew, our driver, stopped so we could have lunch at an Indian resort in the middle of nowhere. Very nice, with a flute-playing turbaned man - we kept thinking a snake was going to come out of a basket any minute. They made us chicken-salad sandwiches, which really hit the spot. They had a unisex washroom, with two real toilets, labelled King and Queen. Not too concerned about male-female separation here!
We continued on a very broken and washed-out road, at a snail's pace, and finally got to Thekkady about 2:30. We visited a spice garden and had a tour, hearing about medicinal properties of spices we thought were only for cooking. We refused to taste each one straight off the bush - the guide thought we were crazy, but hey - who knows if they are sprayed with insecticide or safe? They also took us up into a really neat treehouse where we could have spent hours.
Finally, we got to our hotel-resort, Spice Village. We were greeted with jasmine-flower neck garlands and a cool washcloth, and led to our thatched bungalow which is very comfortable. This a is much better hotel, and touts its eco-sensitivity. It is beautifully laid-out and landscaped too. Soon after we arrived, a troup of monkeys came scrambling and chattering over the roof - sorry, no pictures!)
A nap was all we wanted at first - we were exhausted! we went down to an al-fresco dinner later, which was a buffet with a surprising number of things we could enjoyably eat. There were four British people at the table next to us. We have been starved for Westerners to talk too, so we had to restrain ourselves from being overly gregarious. We enjoyed meeting them.
The room is not heated, and it is a bit cool here (it was downright cold in Munnar) but there is a nice comforter on the bed, and we had a good night's sleep. (When they showed us to the room, they had said we could call to the front desk for a heater - when we did, we got two hot water bottles!)