We arranged to share a car and driver with Maarten and Lena, a young couple staying at The Shade. They have the room right next to us on the lower level of the house. We have a breakfast patio with a gorgeous view out over the valley and the mountains.
Our driver picked us up at 9:00 am and away we went. First up to Top Station, which is a viewpoint on top of a mountain. We were attempting to get there before the clouds rolled in, but we were too late. Maarten suggested we have a cup of chai from one of the many vendors at the top, and while we were waiting for the tea, the clouds started to lift. So we paid the extra little fee to go down some steep steps to the viewpoints. There are two viewpoints and the second one is down at least twice as many steps as the first one. So I elected to stop at the first one, where the view was just fine. The other three went on down to the second viewpoint. While I was waiting for them, lots of Indian tourists were coming by. They started taking pictures of me(?) and then sitting beside me on the bench for a photo, when I indicated it was OK. What a celebrity I became! I had families gathered around and once I started putting my arms around them, they loved it even more. The first group moved off down to the second viewpoint and then got their pictures taken with Don and the others down there.
So I thought I had a reprieve, but a group of teachers and their families were on tour and they started the whole process over again. After I told them I was from Canada, and showed I was willing to ham it up with them, they started singing and clapping. When I asked what the song meant, they said it was a happy song. Here's a little video of it, taken by Maarten. They came back up to the first viewpoint in time to catch some of the action.
On top of the mountain
After we rejoined our driver, we drove down the mountain and stopped at places we had passed by in our rush to the top. We visited Echo Point, which is a dirty beach where you pay admission to stand on the shore and shout at the opposite side. Not really worth doing at all, in our opinion, but there were scads of Indian tourists there. We stopped at restaurant for lunch and bought some tea and chocolate at a shop there. We also saw a very graphic sign in the toilet, depicting how to use the toilet correctly and showing a broken toilet and the bloody backside of someone who had broken the toilet! Unbelievable stuff, I know, but true.
The four of us at a tea plantation
We visited the Elephant Walk, where you can pay and get to ride on an elephant. Lena had thought she might like to do this, but when she saw the elephants she said, "How sad they look" and couldn't bear to participate. I agree with her completely. It seems a sad thing for such intelligent animals to walk in circles for our entertainment.
Other places we have seen this sign showing that there are still free elephants which cross the roads.
This is called a "Honey Tree", the big lumps on it are wild beehives
We also visited a Flower Garden, which was like a garden centre or nursery back home. Our guide took us to the market in town so we could visit an ayurvedic pharmacy. I had told Lena and Maarten about my success with my throat cure and they wanted to try some things. While we were there I picked up some oil for arthritis - hope it works as well!
We discovered a new fruit on the way home. A fellow was selling Palmyra nuts, the fruit of a Palmyra tree. He cut them open for you and inside there are three juicy bits of coconut flesh, which I guess turn into the seed if it's allowed to ripen.
Palmyra seller and driver
We had bought some beer and got it cooled for supper. We had quite a nice little party at supper, with all three couple there sharing their experiences.