Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Planning Trips

When we started to plan our vegas/smokies trip ; we found that every single information that we wanted was present in the dozen odd books available in the library and zillion web-sites. We could book to the detail of what time we would be doing what activity, which street corner we would find a restaurant, which trek leads to what place and what you can expect on the way, what events are scheduled for those days we stayed there in the nearby towns and so on....

Planning for a trip is so easy and so much fun, here in the States. In India, about 10 years ago, it was just impossible for one to plan a trip on one's own. As a kid, I have travelled to many places in India and it was all via a travel agency - because though my parents were travel enthusiasts; they were handicapped by the lack of information about the places beforehand. Now things have improved, with many travel books - especially the little ones that were published by The Outlook Traveller, but as my father says "Delhi abhi bahut door hain" - there is a longer way to go.

When we visited Munnar, we stayed in the Sterling Resorts. As part of the trips, was a visit to a place called "Kollukumalai Tea Factory". This factory built during the british period is nestled on the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is the only factory where tea leaf picking is done manually and not using a machine. The only way to reach this place from Munnar is a very very bad katcha road full of sharp twists and turns - only a jeep could go through this one! A very old man gave us the tour of the factory. It was saddening to hear the crumbling story of that place - how people struggled to make ends meet. Almost all the machinery there is from the old era. We could taste various grades of tea. It was one of the best factory trips I have ever had! But then - had we - like other visitors of munnar chosen to stay in the town and not the Sterling/Club Mahindra, we would have never known of this wonderous place. Is it not a pity ? There is a place that is maybe far more beautiful than smokies - but hardly exposed to the world! I search for this factory on google and see what I found - http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=+Kollukumalai+Tea++

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