Relaxed, recharged

Day 4 – Monday, June 6

The low fuel ride through the forest last evening had stressed me out quite a bit. The Ninja also badly needed a wash. By the time I’d finished all the blogging and publishing, it was 12:30 AM last night. I’d been on a standard schedule for the past three days; Ride, blog, sleep, repeat. I decided to break this and start late today. I wanted to take it easy with the ride today. My wrists were starting to ache due to the sporty position of the bike, which is not so comfortable for downhill rides.

I was still confused on where to head to. I settled down in this city since it opened up options to different places. My best bets were Munnar and Valparai. I was tempted to head towards Valparai since the route from there to Chalakudi is an exotic forest road. But then the rains were raging to wreck havoc enroute to Chalakudi. Munnar ,on the other hand, was expecting rains as well, but not nearly as torrential as Chalakudi. I resorted to reason. Ergo, Munnar it was.

I checked out and was on the road by 8:30 AM. The city of Koyamathoor (a.k.a. Coimbatore) seemed quite laidback. At about 9 AM on a Monday morning, the roads were relatively empty. I was expecting  Monday morning madness, but was pleasantly surprised to be wading through a trickle of vehicles. I was around the Gandhipuram area, the heart of the city, waiting at a signal, watching the countdown and noticing people around me gaping at the Ninja. To my left was a white SUV, slowly inching forward. I was wondering where the guy wanted to head to, with still about a minute left on the timer. When the driver was almost adjacent to me, I noticed it was not a guy, but a young woman, probably in her early twenties. She was still staring at the bike as the windows rolled down. She smiled and said, “Nice bike!” I was frozen for a moment. The kind of image I had about this city was totally different. Getting back to senses, I blushed and responded, “Thank you!” I was glad I was wearing a helmet, without which things could have been a little different. Fifteen seconds left on the timer, and I could probably be opting for a Monday morning date. But somewhere deep in my mind, was I longing for the mist and the mountains? I was still thinking while the timer ticked to zero. I looked to the left and she was watching the signal. She noticed me turn and responded with a smile. Reluctantly I made up mind and opted to head for the mountains. “See you… Bye!”

The wind mills enroute Pollachi

The wind mills enroute Pollachi

I was out of the city heading towards Pollachi on the crowded two lane road. I had to be patient with quite a lot of local show off teenagers who wanted to take it on the Ninja. It was hard avoiding them, but after a point, I had to zip past and vanish. Things were much better after Pollachi. The road had much lesser traffic and the trees to either side were in different colours. The best part of the stretch was the wind mills on either side. They looked pretty small from a distance, but when I tried to walk closer, I realized they were massive structures and each of those blades was as long as huge trucks. I could in fact hear the swishing air noise as they spun.

I reached the town that was just before the foothills. That, being the best option for quality fuel, I tanked up and went in search of food. I packed it up at a small road side shop and headed out towards the foot hills to find a spot to have my breakfast.

My breakfast food joint

Sweet spot for a relaxed breakfast and blog

About 15 minutes from the town, I spotted a small well adjacent to the road with shady trees around it. The perfect spot I was looking for! I settled down under the trees to have my food and also transfer the videos I’d recorded thus far. I realized that the trees and the windmills were scenic to the naked eye, but the GoPro managed to screw up the lighting. Obviously, that’s the best I could expect from a sports camera.

Some exploration of the well, found a turtle in it

Moving ahead after the breakfast, I crossed the first check post. Crossing this took me towards the Chinnar sanctuary area. Munnar has a couple of routes up hill. I chose this route specifically since it passed through the sanctuary is more scenic while compared to the other commercial routes. The Chinnar sanctuary was dry, as usual. I could see the hill from there covered with the cloud. I was validating the satellite images that I’d looked at this morning.

Cloud covered Munnar Hills

On the way, there were a couple of trails with the warning of not to trespass. I was getting very tempted, especially with the water body that was right across the trees. Like I’d said before, I didn’t want to strain the bike and myself today with surprise. I settled with a decent option of just entering the visible woods and not wandering much into the wild. It was certainly creepy this time. No insect noises. There wasn’t much wind too. It was pretty much quiet all through which gave me the fear of animals approaching because of me making some noise. I tried to stay quiet and just shoot a few pictures.

Chinnar forest area

Chinnar forest area

Something suddenly shocked me. It was a person calling from the road. He spotted the green Ninja through the woods. For a moment I was thinking of reasons to escape from the forest officials. As I walked closer, I realized it was a local jeep driver who was passing by through the forest. He warned me that elephants were crossing the road just a little while ago and warned me to be very careful. He advised me to get back on the road immediately. Intrigued by the elephant encounter, I tried to rev as gently as possible and kept myself to the road. I was extremely alert to spot anything big in gray. About 10 kms through, I gave up the search and moved on hoping that I would spot something going forward. The jungle road passed through a few check posts, which meant I was moving into Kerala. I also passed a few villages, closer to which the roads were protected with electric fences to prevent animals from straying on the road.

Enroute Chinnar sanctuary

Just after the jungle, the ascent began through the hills. The valleys exposed the mountains covered with mist and there were quite a lot of waterfalls all through the way. Some of them were reachable, but some were right across the valley. I ventured to the falls wherever possible. I was getting tempted to take a dip, but the things were being unattended on the bike. Taking everything and trekking to the falls was going to be impossible considering the loads of stuff that I had. I shot a couple of pictures and moved on.

Somewhere in the middle of the entire stretch, there was a huge waterfall that was pretty accessible from the road. It was extremely difficult to take a picture since the spray of water from the falls was settling on the lens in a matter of seconds. I had to continuously wipe out the droplets to manage at least a shot or two.

A lovely stream. Wish I could have had a dip.

A lovely stream. Wish I could have had a dip.

The streams of water through the forest

A lovely stream. Wish I could have had a dip.

Spent a while near the falls enjoying the spray of water on my face.

Spent a while near the falls enjoying the spray of water on my face.

Spent a while near the falls enjoying the spray of water on my face.

Heading up the hill back on the road, I was starting to pass through tea estates. There was also a factory and the aroma of fresh tea overwhelmed your senses. I wished I had a way to capture all of that. Probably that would be my next interesting gadget to look out for! I was relatively up the hill and I could feel the drastic change in climate. Droplets of water started trickling on my visor. The sun wasn’t visible and the gray clouds had covered the entire sky. There were tea estates carpeting  the place. I couldn’t see much anymore with fog covering it all.

Misty tea estates

Misty tea estates

Misty tea estates

Parked my bike and listened to the air swishing past

Enjoying the lonliness in the tea estates

My wrist pain had increased and I need a break. I pulled over where there was a nice view adjacent to a tea estate. I sat down on a small stone by the side of the road, enjoying the drizzle. A few minutes later the drizzling increased and it started raining. I had to gear up to handle the rain. Just as I predicted, the rain got heavier slowing me down drastically. I could no longer take my camera out for pictures. I resorted to the GoPro to cover as much as I could. I found it extremely useful in these conditions. The small gadget fits in the corner of the tank bag without taking up much space. Being a wide angle camera with a sensitive microphone, it captures everything pretty well. Since it’s also waterproof, it’s probably the best option for rain.

I was in the town by 4:30 PM. The night was still young and I had plenty of places to go to. But the rain played spoilsport clogging the traffic everywhere. To add to it, the entire valleys were covered with mist preventing me from seeing any part of the valley. I decided to find a room and settle down for the evening.

Drying my wet gear

The view of the town, from the place I stayed in

Ride Stats

Route: Coimbatore – Pollachi – Udumalpet – Chinnar – Munnar
Distance: 170 kms
Ride Time: 9 hrs
Trek Time: 1 hour

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