Date: 22 April
Location: the windiest road, high in the tea plantations near Munnar, Kerala
Notable sightings: KFC (Keralan Fried Chicken), real cinnamon off a cinnamon tree (don't recommend), huge sacks of cardamom seeds that must be worth a fortune
So we've finally escaped from the Mountain Resort of Doom, as we not-so-fondly dubbed our hotel in Munnar.
Set high above the orderly green tea plantations, accessible only by jeep and surrounded purely by jungle, it had so much promise. But so did the hotel in The Shining.
First there was the minor lunch drama. The dining room seemed utterly unprepared to cater for a massive 12 guests at once and, upon ordering just sandwiches (the drive up had done a number on a number of tummies) we were asked to wait forty five minutes. I died and attempted to gnaw off arms (my popularity continues to wane). This routine was repeated at dinner. Mind you, this problem was mitigated later in the evening when we discovered that the kitchen was directly below our room and were treated to a symphony of violent throat clearing and snot expulsion from within. And then I found the cage of bunnies nearby. Cured of a desire eat at the hotel ever again.
Of course, the luxury to eat elsewhere was not ours: the narrow road up the side of the mountain to Resort of Doom was closed from 6pm to 9am so we were literally stranded from dinner to breakfast. Just us, and the cockroaches the size of my thumb, many of which had migrated up into the glass light fittings and died.
Wifi was, naturally enough, not on offer. Nor was much else: the activities listed on the hotel board included 'enjoy view!' and 'enjoy quiet!' Not to be enjoyed, it seemed, was hot water or pillows for beds.
Waking early, I'd ordered tea at 7am. Tea arrived around 8. However, the next day at 7am, while we were fast asleep, the doorbell shrieked: tea. Unordered.
The final straw came when, around 3am on the second night, one of the girls awoke to a little Indian man crawling through her door, left unlocked because the hotel had 'lost the key'.
This is India.
Anyway, we've escaped now from the hills now and only a little harm done.
The mountain region actually prides itself less on its megaroaches and more on its tea and spices. We visited a local's spice garden and tasted chillies in all shapes, colours and sizes, cinnamon bark, cardamom, nutmeg seeds, gherkins off the vine, several of the 23 different types of banana the gentleman grows and herbs in every shade of green. I may come to regret some of the more adventurous choices but, as youngest in the group, am nominated guinea pig. Think affectionately? Unsure.
We also had the distinct pleasure of joining the spice guy for dinner made by his daughter and the Keralan fish curry and fresh, hot roti was probably the best I've had yet.