Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tagged : 8 things about me...

I've been tagged again and this time , its 8 things about me... and like 'she-who-tagged-me' i shall try and write things related to travelling ...

Rules of this Tag:

1. Name the person who tagged you.
2. 8 things about you.
3. Tag 6 people.

Name of the Person : Mridula
I wonder where she comes up with the enthu to be a part of so many blogs and contribute actively to all!

8 things about me

1. However hard I try, anytime I have to write about myself or something i am involved with , I always make even the worst sound cute and center the narratives around me - sort of like casting myself in the lead. Its not intentional - it's just an inherent bias i cannot seem to eliminate. So - you know what to expect of next 7 points.

2. The toughest challenge (for me) when I am making a trip, is to constantly remember that my interest need not necessarily match others interests too. I find it very difficult, especially when I start feeling panicky about not getting to do something i had been looking forward to. But I manage - and so far, have managed to do a lot of trips where more or less all people involved found common ground and have enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

3. I found the reason why my most recent trips have been more fulfilling than a lot of others to more exotic locations - I got to plan it. Researching, planning ang organizing is half the fun :) - makes me feel more involved - and all this stems from a more basic need to be in control ! always.

4. I HATE it when anyone tells me that something (something being anything i want to do) isn't possible - I prefer 'dificult' over 'impossible'.

5. I find more pleasure in beautifully beaded words than pictures. And no, i dont think all pictures speak a thousand words.

6. It took me 6 months to put a sitemeter on this blog for the fear of what i might find.

7. I like to listen to sound of silence when i am in a forest - something my friends found totally contrasting to my usually 'loud self' (on my latest trip) and ofcourse took my life for it.

8. I cant stand anyone who tells me that they dont like Chennai or they find it unfriendly without really giving the city a chance. Having said that, I think Chennai and TamilNadu could do with better marketing and more investment from the tourism department!

I tag :
Tarun, Meera, Rags, Kay, Raul, Sriram, Tanu, Mama,

Titbits DandeliGokarna

Just wanted to post some vital info on dandeli and gokarna as promised.

-By far, Kulg(0828-4231585) is a much better place to stay than Jungle lodge Resorts. JLR has too much cement and doesnt give an adequate enough feeling of being with nature.Also, kulgi is closer to the dandeli wild life sanctuary itself.

-But the logistics can be a pain. From the central town, JLR is about 1-2 km, whereas kulgi is about 10-12km. And the only way to get to-from kulgi is through the local sumos (a crowded one!) which are quite infrequent. Kulgi supposedly runs its own van , but this wasnt available when we made our trip.

- Neither kulgi nor JLR are by the kali river rafting point. If you stay at kulgi, you will be asked to call Imam (09448331729) for arranging rafting. He, however takes you to JLR and you raft with John and mohammad from JLR only. From JLR to the point of rafting is about 20 km and JLR has jeeps to take you to and back from the river.

-Bison, the other place to stay is by the 'beautiful' green stretch of kali - and we saw one of their tree houses while on the raft. If I had the money to splurge, then bison it would be.

Accomodation at Dandeli

-There is no way to directly hit the beach - you can trek about 3km from the town or take an auto for about 125 bucks to a point close to the beach ... ou will find steps or a dirt road leading to the beach.

- though sunset cafe or namaste cafe(09448153643/08386257313) wouldnt accept reservations, try and push them for booking. Though i havent seen namaste cafe myself, it sounds like a better option than sunset.

- there is a 'Sugama' travels that offers bus service to bangalore and they had seats available when i landed in Gokarna. So, incase KSRTC is all booked, you can try these guys.

- By the way, did you know KSRTC offers booking from outside karnataka? I didnt and i was breaking my head over how to book the last lag of my journey - and finally one nice ksrtc guy said that it was possible to book gokarna to bangalore tickets from chennai!

Monday, October 16, 2006

East Coast to the West

Chennai- bangalore- Hubli - Darwad- Dandeli (2 day stop) – Ankola –Gokarna ( a day stop) – Gokarna road – Hubli- bangalore – Chennai

That was my itenary for a 4-day vacation to Gokarna and Dandeli – and not all of it was intentional and quite a lot of it was done alone. And to make it to all these places, I took 5 trains, 3 buses, sumo rides, autos – well, a flight figured in too except it got cancelled (thanks to AirDeccan).

Initially, while we were sounding out suggestions for this whole trip, I was the one who kept harping on Gokarna, and Dandeli – And when I realise I needed to almost travel about 20 hours (one way) alone to meet up with the others, I was kicking mysef for not having worked out the logistics before getting other people to join me. The other thing was that , not too many people seemed to have combined gokrna and Dandeli and till the actual trip we didn’t figure out how to get between the points. There was so much planning, trying to figure out the closest spot, the times, the distances – I don’t think ive taxed my brain and google more for any other trip …and co-ordinatin between 4 people with just mail and conflicting suggestions and lot of crazy jokes in between was enough to drive us all mad.

So it is with great pleasure I introduce you to the people who actually made it sane and safe – the I-banker from mumbai, the lucknowi lady and udaipur duo from hyd and urs truly ms.n from Chennai. Except for the I-banker, all of us travelled almost 14-16 hours by train and another 2 hours by bus from Dharwar to Dandeli and a sumo ride to the camp...

This is going to be one detailed write-up ... so i have broken it down into 2 more posts...

Rafting in the Garden of Eden - Dandeli

Sunset on the West Coast - Gokarna

I have always wondered if i would go on a trip where i would "figure it out" along the way - and this one certainly was like that. But I have to say, that the weather certainly made the 'figuring out' process smoother and the company made all teh difference. Ofcourse, one just missed out on couple of spare days for uncertainities!

The last post is on some details and phone numbers - but probably will post it over the weekend!

Rafting in the Garden of Eden - Dandeli

Continued from East Coast to the West

Day 1 @ Dandeli

We had booked our stay at the Kulgi Nature Camp, as we found the rates reasonable and we were promised tented acco in the wilderness– the camp itself was very nice, and the tents… well, they really aren’t the roughing out tents – more like cottages made of canvas… We reached only by around 2'O'clock, so we decided to push rafting for the next day and go on a short trek for the evening. The trek was to a small water fall outside the Dandeli wild life reserve itself– we rested at the water fall, to mostly remove the leeches that had gotten friendly along the way and before we knew it, we embarked on a water splashing war!

Back at the camp, the dinner that night was one of the best – being with nature has a way of making you feel savor the simplest of things -The reguar dal that you would crib about suddenly transforms to a heavenly delicacy and you devour it with such speed!! And ofcourse this was followed by a “party” hosted by the udaipuri duo (btw, this refers to 2 guy from udaipur and who were friends from school ;) ) in their tent. I wont elaborate , but there was a documentary made, a lot of spice dug up, and lots of liquid splashed about.

Day 2 @Dandeli

The next day we were scheduled to go for rafting with the Jungle lodges resort. We were told that we needed to get ready by 8 so we can get to the dandeli town by about 9 … after a few false calls, we got a sumo – to the town – from there to jungle lodges. JLR arranged for a jeep to take us to the river Kali for rafting. While I was disappointed that the river was dirty brown, the actual patch where we raft is a beautiful green. After donning our gear, we were off. John, the rafter who accompanied us, spent 30 minutes in giving us instructions as to how to raft etc., which was really good cos u actually get a feeling of learning something and knowing what you are going to be doing. The training included jumping in to the cold green water to be “rescued” by the rest. We also swam for a while before we set off.

The first couple of rapids were really good, but the others were quite small, so not so ‘thrilling exciting’. After about half an hour we entered ‘Eden’s Garden’ and I have to say it lived up to its name. Green foliage interspersed with patches of auburn brown of some trees, unruly climbers touching the clear green river – it was certainly a stretch untouched by civilization! In the evening, we went off on a safari around the wildlife reserve and watched the sunset at a peak near a mining area reclaimed by the forest.

The one thing I didn’t like about dandeli was that, I assumed that the area where we would be staying etc, where we would be rafting etc., are all ensconced within the forest. But that wasn’t the case and we kept plying into the town and back – so it wasn’t a totally ‘lost in wilderness’ weekend. Anyways, another night at kulgi singing old hindi and English melodies our trip at Dandeli came to an end.

Next Sunset on the West Coast - Gokarna

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunset on the west coast –Gokarna

Continued from Rafting in the Garden of Eden -Dandeli

Day 3:

So after 2 nights at Dandeli, we set off to Gokarna. We were up and ready by 6:30 even though we hit the bed only during the wee hours in the morning – and all our efforts were wasted as the bus lumbered in slowly by 8!!! We went to a place by name Ankola and then took another bus to Gokarna. The whole trip took us about 3-4 hours. When we reached Gokarna, we had 2 options – trek into the beaches to reach ‘Sunset Café’ our homes for the next 2 days or take an auto. Since we wanted to take it light, we decided to take the auto.

The first sight of the beach is breath – taking. As you climb down the hills to reach the beach, you get the first glimpse from high –up and you can see the varying shades of the water – the only other place I have seen such varying shades was in Lakshadweep.

While we had been reading about staying in huts, I guess none of us really thought they were the actual hut huts! A couple of the more “expensive” ones had cement walls, the other ones were fully thatched. To add to grievances of some of us, there were only common bathrooms for all guests and into the back. To be truthful, I was also taken aback – I have stayed in a “hut” in Rajasthan, but that was much nicer. What irritated me was the lack of aesthetics in that place in the sense that there was a lack of order, and signs of bad maintanence. Otherwise, I was ok about getting to stay in a hut. Anyways, some of us were opposed to this idea- but due to lack of any other available acco we stayed put. A nice heavy lunch of pasta, pizza, sandwiches and then we hit the sea.

The kudle beach is kind of framed between to hilly headland projecting into the sea. While we don’t get to see a vast expanse of water, the horizon and the ocean beyond looks much closer. That particular week, the currents were strong and I could see waves right from the end of the horizon almost giving you the feel that the ocean was rushing in on you with an unknown force. We spent about 4 hours in the beach, which got better when it started to rain!!! Another fun dinner with strains of Buddha beat perfecting the ambience of a beach dinner followed by a nap on the shores– we retired to our huts late in the night.

Gokarna gives you a similar feel as Hampi does – you find more foreigners than Indians. This place is a hippy haven is what I read in many blogs, and we did see some action there ;)...There was one lonely surfer braving the waves - the man and the board were an interesting sight i must say! :)

We woke up next day to a rainy morning- one of the bikers from a gang that had come from bangalore had an ipod – so breakfast was accompanied by smell of earth, sight of rain drops and psychadelic rock of floyd, a bit of bryan adams, eagles and def leppard. Sigh ! heaven!

We had to leave immediately after break fast to drop of my friend in gokarna road and to proceed to hubli - and back to chennai! The only regret I have is being robbed of the last day at Gokarna – we hadn’t realised that we would have to so early to get back to our trains and flights!!! And because of packing in too much, I didn’t get to feel the timelessness of Gokarna, one thing I had been looking forward to!!!!

On the way back to hubli

Well, I am glad I believe in next times !!!

PS: I never got to see the sunset!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Discovering digi macro

Finally figured out how this feature works on my latest trip - while the post on the gokarna and dandeli is still taking shape, i want to show off my photographic feat :D!!!