Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Grand Tour: Plantation on a Hill

After our night on the water, it was time for a few nights on a hilltop.  After disembarking from our houseboat, another nice clean cool car took us for a drive along the water, and then up through the lush green hills to Malabar House at Kanam Estate.

The lovely retreat, an old plantation house, is located on a hill and surrounded by loads of rubber trees.  We got out of our car, took a deep breath of the cool, clear air and grinned at each other.  We were in the middle of nowhere!  A beautiful nowhere!  With nothing to do!

We were greeted by the loveliest woman, who immediately offered us fresh fruit juice (I settled on watermelon, but would go on to try all of the myriad options over the next three days).  We lounged in the relaxing front room as she checked us in, taking in the peace and quiet.

In no time I was in the pool (that's me at the end).

Paul was feeling a little under the weather, so I took my lunch at a table in the back garden while he rested.

Vegetarian thali was my choice that day, and it was a wonderful introduction to the food that I would enjoy for the rest of our stay.  It consisted of many small dishes of light, flavorful and vividly colored foods, from beets to coconut to curry.  Sitting under a market umbrella with a crisp linen napkin, a beautiful plate of food and the most perfectly helpful yet unobtrusive server, I felt classier than I had in quite some time.

I spent the next few hours sprawled out on the outdoor bed on our private veranda reading Wolf Hall.

Paul and I each had an ayurvedic massage in the little hut just beyond the veranda.  I found myself slathered in the most viscous oil I've ever come across and manhandled by a woman half my size.  I was in heaven.  And my skin felt amazing, even after soaping everything off in the shower just after the rubdown.

Post manhandling, we decided to adopt the ways of the retired folk and ate early, this time in the library.  And then, after we closed the (seemingly) thousands of wooden shutters in our room, we snuggled up in our bed, surrounded by the soft sounds of nature on the plantation.

We awoke the next morning excited to ride the resident elephant.  After breakfast in the garden, and some indulgent lazing around, we ambled over to meet Lakshmi.

We fed her some bananas, which she at as if they were nothing more than peanuts.

Then it was time to ride.  Paul climbed up first.

And found the experience petrifying.  It was too high up (he is afraid of heights), the elephant's movement too much and the prospect of going down a hill on the beast unsettling.  So after a spin around the hotel, I hopped up.

Not to toot my own horn, but I really was a natural (although granted, it took some getting used elephant's shoulders rock back and forth more than you might expect!).

We strolled along for a while, me on the elephant, her two handlers and Paul walking along beside me.  We passed homes, children playing, parents socializing...I cannot tell you how white I felt riding around on an elephant as if I was surveying my domain.

But it was loads of fun nonetheless.

Presently we came to a stream, and it was bath time for Lakshmi.

It was stunning how quickly she cooled off after.  The amount of heat she put off was truly amazing!

On the way back the boys picked up a snack for her...

...which she ate like corn on the cob and once she was down to the stalk simply discarded.

Before long we were back home.

And it was time for more rest and relaxation.

Tea on the veranda in a rainstorm became my favorite afternoon activity at Malabar House.

Or perhaps favorite only after my afternoon ayurvedic treatment.  Paul and I both had oil poured on our third eye for an hour, which was surprisingly relaxing.  I also ended up with a deep conditioning hair treatment out of the whole thing.

Our last night at Malabar House we had Indian scented pasta (curry leaves and tomatoes) for dinner (again the library), and were watched over by this little guy.

It would soon come time to leave, as we were headed to the heaving, pulsating metropolis that is Mumbai.

We said goodbye to the welcoming, gracious home,

goodbye to the amazing staff,

and headed off in the hotel's Land Rover through the jungle to the airport.


Pushpendra singh said...
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Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

I finally got around to catching up with the rest of your glorious honeymoon adventures, Laura. How wonderful! Great photos and stories that put me right there. Sounds like you and Paul have started on a lifetime of adventures together.

Dheeraj Raghav said...
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