With Matt feeling under the weather and the punishing 35 degree heat taking its toll on all, we decide to retreat to the mountains of the Western Ghats. Two buses, heaps of uncertainty, a friendly Tamil and five hours later we arrive in Kodaikanal. Everything in India seems to be a crap shoot, sometimes literally.
Kodaikanal is a small town that sits at 2100 meters surrounded by lush deciduous forest. With it's 35,000 inhabitants, pleasant 25 degree temperature and large cloverleaf lake, all three of us felt better as soon as we exited the bus.
After having the best Masala tea to date, Jen and I headed off on a 16km round trip hike to Pillar Rock. At about the 6km mark we came to Green Valley view, a beautiful view point of the overlapping mountains. Unfortunately, between the thick thick fog obstructing the view and the legion of tourists, this seems to be a fruitless intermission to the hike. The saving grace were the numerous macaque monkeys all around. I became very enthusiastic and begun to take a plethora of photos. No more than 5 minutes into watching the monkeys, one of the them started to growl at Jen, then another stole a little girls snack and yet another pilfered a water bottle. My love of monkeys fades slightly.
Within two more kilometers we came upon Pillar Rock, two towering 400 foot slab giants standing shoulder to shoulder watching over Green Valley. Lightly draped in mist the rocks took on a poetic scene. This was definitely worth the 8km hike. No sooner do we get to the view point, I notice the area peppered with macaque monkeys and become slightly concerned. These, however, are very docile and almost posing for the tourist paparazzi snapping away at them. Some parents even position their children within inches of the monkeys. I often think that parents are more foolish than their children.
With an already long day behind us we begin the long walk back to town. Once well out of the range of the monkeys, I open a much deserved snack of peanuts. I'm no more than halfway through my snack that I see a monkey 30 feet away charging at me full steam. While I remember the macaque being the size of a VW Golf, Jen maintains that it was no bigger than a medium size dog. Never-the-less, I know he wants my ever so tasty peanuts. Thinking quickly I put the peanuts in my pocket. Damn, no change in trajectory or speed. With only about 7 feet remaining between the monkey and myself I throw the peanuts to the side and with them the monkey follows.
I hate monkeys.