Marathons, cliff hanging and tea. What a day!

I’ve had such a wonderful day. At the moment I’m sitting in a tiny concrete walled room the size of a telephone booth using my new hotels ancient history PC (as there is no Wi-Fi). As I type, I tend to find myself in pitch black darkness as the power has gone off yet again. Every few minutes or so. So funny. I love how humbling so many of my experiences thus far have been.

There are so many stories to tell. Every moment of the day is a new tale with funny, sad, holding on for dear life moments.

To begin - at 4am this morning I awoke to my alarm to practice Vinyasa yoga. It was only an hour practice as I needed to get myself ready for my safari tour on the lake. Although a challenge to get out of bed due to a later night, splashing cold water on my face woke me up nicely. Once I get into this practice I can help but feel so energised. That’s the beauty of yoga. It prepares the body so well for the day ahead. Bringing clarity and a feeling of being centered in the mind and body.

Having limited time this morning forced me to formulate a shorter sequence, hence putting my teacher skills to the test. I also tend to be strict with myself in terms of having to do an entire sequence or nothing - so remembering to be more gentle with myself was an excellent way to start the day. Because let’s face it - anything is better than nothing and placing this added pressue on my training only makes the experience less enjoyable rather than enjoyable. This is one of the many beneficial learnings I have taken from Bharath and will actively apply to my life.

At 6.15am I met my driver who was to take me to the jungle safari cruise. We drove about 5-10 minutes away from the hotel and ended up in a que of buses and cars. I didn’t quite understand the whole process of getting a ticket but I knew there was something important about getting there early. He also kept talking about a second que I needed to get in which cars cannot reach, and explaining something about running… I wasn’t sure.

Anyway, my driver turned off the car and walked to the front of the line (about 300 metres away) to get an entry ticket. Suddenly I noticed all the drivers, who were doing the same, were RUNNING back to their cars. It was like a tidal wave of Indian drivers running toward me - and my driver was part of that wave. The gates had been opened and cars were pushing past and flying through it, near taking each other out in order to get in.

Single file, the cars and buses traveled through the jungle for about 5kms before reaching a car park where everyone stopped. This is when it got mental. My driver started rushing me down the road. I noticed Indian’s were running all around me. My driver told me to run also! I now know this is because there are limited seats on the boats, 60 I think, and if you don’t get one - too bad!!! So I was running for about 1km to get to the next ticket booth! Holding onto my handbag and shawl which was flying around, I powered my way down this windy path through the jungle - following the crowd. Although I certainly wasn’t the first person to start this mini running race, being fit definately worked in my favour. Indian people were dropping like flies - having to stop and catch their breath. Let’s just say fitness isn’t a priorty in India. But it certanly helped me today! One man started running with me, as I was a novelty to run with, and decided to have a conversation with me about Australia winning the cricket. So funny.

When I made it to the ticket booth I was literally in the equivalent of a mosh pit, being shoved in every possible direction and people were pushing their way through to the ticket booth. As I’ve learned to shove back, I managed to get my ticket and make it through the otherside alive and in one piece. This was probably more exciting than the safari cruise. I later learned the reason they are so strict on numbers now is because 45 people drowned 5 years ago when 140 passengers were put on a boat which only had capacity for 80. Everyone went to one side of the boat at once and it flipped. This boat was still on the bank, rotting away. Eerie.

This mornings trip was in some ways relaxing and in others stressful. Everyone is eager to see some animals so it’s hard to keep everyone seated making viewing hard, but generally it was fine. I was on the top deck, seat number 49, and with orange life jacket on I just sat an appreciated the experience I was having - races and all.

The river was full of old dead trees and we were surrounded by the jungle. The lake and mountains were covered in thick fog, adding extra atmosphere to the whole experience. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of activity we did see a number of bids, the eagle being one. We also saw monkeys high in the trees, a group of wild boars and their little babies running along side, and a herd of elephants! With baby elephants also, as we approached the end of the river they came running out of the jungle and gathered at the water. The babies seem quite naughty, spraying water. Although we weren’t very close, we certainly got a wonderful view of them. Apparently we saw more animals than normal on our cruise. We were considered lucky.

Since then, I’ve travelled a further 3.5 hours from Treekadhy to Munnar, which has one of the largest tea plantations in the world. I wish Owen was with me, being the tea lover he is. To get here though, was 3.5 hours of some of the windyest (not a word but it is now), narrowest, highest, most dangerous roads ever. Combine 2000ft mountains with crazy Indian drivers, including bus drivers, and you see my point. Often with no guardrails, we nearly got wiped off the edge so many times. I also get car sick, so the constant snaking through the mountains sure did test my stomach!

Never before have I been so mezmerized by a landscape. I’ve seen some stunning landscapes in my time all over the world, but being surrounded by tea plantations is something else. Perfectly manicured hills/mountains of tea bushes are everywhere. Even the one roundabout I saw was of tea! Tomorrow I have an excursion to some plantations which I’m excited for. Should be amazing.

My new accomodation is on what they call a Hill Station, and I am surrounded by these plantations. I feel very lucky to be here. I also feel sad as my driver will be sleeping in his car for the next two nights. He considers his car 5 star accommodation. I nearly burst into tears when he said that. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to get a room for him? Probably not. I was warned this sort of treatment can do more harm than good. But it just makes me so sad seeing how some people have to live. And yet he seems so happy. Never complaining. There are certainly many lessons I will be taking home from this phenomenal country.

Ok - enough from me. I should get out of this booth and eat something. Unfortunately pictures will need to wait until I can have access to internet.. Turns out this is a little difficult when on the road. But again, grateful for this old PC!

Lesson for today: Smile and be grateful for all the amazing opportunities I have in my life. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are much bigger things going on in the world. Appreciate every moment as it is and always look for the positive.

Namaste xx