Munnar - Jan 26, First long weekend of 2023
It's been quite some time since I last chronicled my travels, and it struck me how the details had started to fade. After all, memories are the currency of life, aren't they? I treasure the few gems I penned down in the past, like Gujarat - 2016 & Pushkar - 2018, and I plan to create more of these precious memories for my mental map.
We (the RestlessMonks) realized the importance of work-life balance in order to avoid burnouts. Personal life can't be ignored; instead, it should harmoniously coexist with our professional pursuits. Travel, dating, writing, health, and music are just some aspects that deserve attention. At the beginning of the month, we decided to make the most of the upcoming long weekend by taking a break to travel. For me, it had been too long since I last embarked on a solo hostel trip, and I had been yearning for a visit to Munnar.
Bangalore to Munnar
An overnight bus journey lay ahead, and unfortunately, my bus was far from ideal. It cost ₹4k for a non-AC sleeper bus without any blankets and with a faulty window that wouldn't close completely. Bundled in all my clothes, I still found myself shivering. Lesson learned: book bus tickets at least a week in advance. The final two hours of the journey were covered by jeep, during which I met a fascinating lawyer family and enjoyed engaging conversations on a variety of topics.
PS: Went through hairvolution a week before (After 5+ years of rocking that Rapunzel-esque look, I realized it's time)
I pondered what I was truly seeking from this trip, and I realized that I wanted to be completely myself and live in the moment. No grand expectations, just meeting new people and seeing what happens. This concept felt counterintuitive to my usual structured, systematic approach to life, but let's give a shot to this adventure.
Musical First Day
I was staying in Hosteller. A beautiful hostel in the outskirts of Munnar. Upon reaching the place and meeting fellow travelers, we 3 musicians got together and jammed the whole afternoon! Ordering food there's like a swiggy experience. Via the app & pre-payment and quite a lot of people waiting for their meals joined us! From Unplugged to Arjun's jazz to classical in the middle, it was an amazing afternoon. With that good artist lineup, Bonfire & Guitar was the night's theme!
I tried working & completing some high-thinking work but ended up realizing not having any thinking processing units left after a long journey. I decided to shut off work, unleash my inner self out & not think about work or problems till Sunday (damn it was hard!). Went for sunset stroll near the hostel with Airpods in ear & nothing in mind. Met 2 another peeps from hostel and we climbed a mountain to get a better view of sunset.
Later in the evening, I met multiple other amazing travelers and exchanged our stories. Jammed with Arjun and got ready to sleep at 10 as I had to wake up at 4 AM for the sunrise point at Kolukkumalai peak.
As good jamming started with Bonfire, I ended up staying there till 1 AM (Only to wake up at 4 AM). That's Arjun in the video! 👇
I wrestled with myself at 3:45 AM, debating whether to stay in bed or follow through with my plan. For the first time in a long while, I chose not to give in to sleep. I realized that my body is separate from the "real me"; it exists to serve me, and though I must care for it, I am ultimately in control. The energizing spirit of my college days resurfaced as I rose to meet the challenge. Just a mindset shift I'll say!
It was 2 hour jeep ride from our place to the sunrise point and damn, it's one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen! With Coldplay in my years and noise cancellation, I was in my own among 500 other kindred spirits there!
Change of Plans & Into the Wilderness
At the sunrise point, we saw a huge peak with miniature human-like figures at the top and I wanted to experience the sunset they experienced!
With our jeep going back, me and another solo traveller (Raghav from the hostel) stayed on to camp the night amidst the tea plantations and watch the sunrise from there. That's impulsive decision for you. With a rough idea of finding a camp, 50% charging in phones,
We found a camping organiser & got some nice package with tents. I crashed in the tents right away to make up for my sleep.
Upon waking up at 3 in the afternoon, all clouds had covered up the tea plantations. We trekked and wandered in the plantations & then went ahead for some nice sunset. Sunrise and Sunset points were the same but there wasn't a herd of 1000 people at sunset. Barely 10 people! I had such a nice time looking at Kerala on the one side and Tamil Nadu on the other! Also I rode this dragon. In all honesty I really wanted to share this moment with my significant other, sit alongside her and romanticize life amidst this natural beauty! Plan for 2023.
Did I tell you I had no alcohol, J, powerbank, charger or anything. That's how spontaneous this detour was and I was glad! In the night we met this group of friends from Karnataka living in Bangalore, had some nice meals alongside the bonfire. We, exchanged stories, our inner philosophies, what we want in our lives, sang, danced & stargazer. Damn that starry sky! Got to understand their perspective on enjoying life & not worrying too much about the future which is quite different from mine.
We slept around 12 only to wake up at 4 AM to start the hike for the actual Kolukkumalai peak. I could not believe I could really trek. Travel does wonders for me. Connects you back to your real self. That person you forgot about!
It was such a nice sunrise! A sea of clouds protruding as far you can see! This time it was Spirit birds in my ears when the rays started coming! We stayed there, all lost in our own thoughts for about 2 hours before climbing down. It's nothing but these experiences that fill us with joy and prepare us for things to come.
We went to the tea factory after the trek, saw how tea leaves are processed and converted to the tea we have! Coming down was a hassle as we didn't have a jeep. I don't know what got into me and I somehow prioritised money over my time. That 3 hour waste is something I regret and a reminder for all my future travels to just let it go and optimize on the your time!
Coming downhill on their jeep I was sitting in the back seat and damn my back was hurting like crazy. 60 minutes straight hell mixed with music as morphine!
Upon reaching back to the hostel & refreshing myself I had my last evening as I had to board the bus tomorrow evening back to Bangalore. I really wanted to Kayak in the dam which some peeps in hostel told me about. This super pumped me met everyone in the common area to find some company for kayaking. That's when I met Richie in the common room and we both pooled an auto to Kayak at a nearby dam.
The sunset while kayaking was serene! The water was clean and the views were spectacular. Mountains in the front, water beneath you & you steering your kayak alongside your music playing in the background. And yes, I always have speakers with me!
Great dorm conversation, Bonfire & a musical long night
Coming back from Kayak, I caught up with new peeps in my dorm. A group of 3 got formed we shared our life stories, discussed where are we stuck in our lives, what's our next plan & how can we become better versions of ourselves, become happier & achieve what we want! Some long engaging talk where people really opened up. The beauty of "High chances that we aren't gonna meet up again"
After these conversations, I went to the Bonfire area where it was all Delhi crowd high on alcohol! Punjabi songs & that "Beautiful people, Ed Sheeran" vibes. Honestly, not my kinda vibe where you are just there just because you have to! Took me an hour and half to escape them to find Arjun and other artists jamming up in the common area! Damn, all you got to do is leave the place where you don't belong and be with the people you belong! It's as simple as that.
Up till 3 AM we jammed our hearts out!
Shopping, Last supper, Kayaking (again) & the bus back!
This was sunday, my last day. Started my last day a little late. Had a nice meal, bid adieu to peeps at hostel, exchanged Instagrams & left for the Munnar main town. Me and another friend had roughly similar bus timings decided to pool in. Met this amazing set of college design peeps on their group trip trying to figure out the group theory & individual wants.
On reaching Munnar, I wore my tourist hat on, and shopped some chocolates, chocolate tea, banana chips, and a few condiments. We went to a 5-star hotel for a proper fine dine experience. Had some nice buffet, exchanged stories & explored the hotel.
I still had an hour for my bus to come & I went for a stroll. Best thing was I was just having my office backpack so it was easy to travel. I found a kayak + boating place with no waiting line and I went for the ride. Maybe should have gone for a massage or something but am too adventurous at times! Sadly this kayak was super bad compared to the one I did in the dam. The water here was stagnant and kinda smelly. After 25 minutes I was back & my bus was ready (damn, didn't expect it on time!!).
I boarded the bus, reached Bangalore in the morning and kinda slept half day! Next few days after the trip, I was so damn productive in work. Loved this getaway!
Well, am a CEO in the end & am building systems in life! Especially at the time I was on the trip, my life was a mess wr.t. systems. Things weren't getting done & I badly needed these systems in my life.. The feedback loop is one of the most important systems and thus a few of my learnings in purest form for my future self to look back on:
I can wake up and hustle like the way I've done on the trip in my normal life too. It's all on you. You can do whatever you want!
Keep your focus in front of your eyes.
You and your body are separate. Take good care of it. Nurture it.
You can speak with anyone! The same way in hostel or in conferences, airplanes, do that in clubs. World is a social place. Everyone wants to know and meet you.
Read the books that guide you on what's happening in your life.
Alcohol is not that good. Have a small one in your bag for emergency situations.
Not everyone will be your type. Get out from these situations. Find your vibe. Be clear and straight & shoot your shot!
It's okay to compromise money for saving time when on travel