Due to my tiredness yesterday, I hadn’t really taken in Bliss, or indeed its spectacular location. As such, emerging from the room to glorious sunshine and a phenomenal green view of tea plantations was a beautiful surprise, and I spent some time just taking it in.
Breakfast was provided, and was the usual South Indian fare, with omelettes too. We filled up – which would turn out to be a very good decision – on great food and water before packing up and getting in the car with John, who was fresh from an airport transfer job that morning! He must have been so tired, but didn’t let on!
We set off on our journey, stopping in many spots for pictures along the way – the layers of hills covered in tea seemed to go on indefinitely. We drove and drove and drove up, up through yet more beautiful miles of tea to our second secret location of the trip – an industrial site making use of local water resources (ahem). Some parts of the site were no longer in use, but a terrifying winch car dangled precariously over an edge like a 1920’s railway carriage crossed with Alton Towers’ Oblivion – a useful and hair-raising way to get between two of the sites. As the butterflies flitted around us on the precipice, we also spotted a huge black monkey swaying gently in a tree on the other side of the valley.
We continued our drive in the direction of Ooty, pausing at a recreation ground which was a large grassy hill affording beautiful views of the valley below. A bunch of horses mooched about cropping grass near the bottom, begging people to say no to a horse ride up the steep hill, offered by their owner.
The hill was a good work out after the day in the car, and Mohan, Sellappan and I made the climb while Bindhu and John checked out the snacks at the bottom. Upon reaching the top there were , of course, pictures to be taken, and we snapped away happily for a while before attempting the knee-crunching descent. Bindhu and John had made a full investigation of the snacks on offer, and there were newspaper cones of hot nuts and braised corn on the cob for all.
The final stop on the tour was our biggest walk yet from the car, led by the intrepid John. We stopped by the side of the road and looked up at yet another hill. Just as we were thinking about the climb, a herd of buffalo appeared from nowhere and walked calmly across our path, their hairy backs lit up by the golden sunset light. There were about thirty of them in total, and the boys were keen to get a bit closer to take some photos. The buffalo ignored them, entirely nonchalant. After they passed, a trek up the hill through a gap in the trees (no tigers, only a surprised rooster sprinting like roadrunner and crowing) revealed… the other side of a hill – and a small lake! The sun was on the way down as we were descending to the shore, and the tree-lined lake made for some lovely sunset views and pictures (Mohan was in his element with a flash gun holding assistant on call) and we eventually turned around back up over the hill as the light faded.
Apart from the quick snack, there had been no food since breakfast time, and everyone was really hungry! We eventually got to Ooty and had dinner at a chicken restaurant on the main street – with the spiciest chicken biriyani ever produced. When we were done, Bindhu and I got some chocolate for dessert in the car.
Sadly, it was time to leave (actually we were running late for our bus back to Bangalore) and we came down from the cool hills in record time, despite a lot of trucks dithering around the bends! John negotiated the Coimbatore traffic like a pro, and Sellappan’s network saw our luggage arrive to us by bike and get slung through the car window with a quick wave! We got to the bus station just in time and waved a hurried goodbye, safely bound for Bangalore once again! The journey was sleepy and uneventful, if a little bouncy, and we got back to the flat early the next morning.