Kabini with friends

OK, I realize that this post has been due for more than a month now. Sorry folks I just got caught up with maid madness and life as such :) So, now I am here trying to do justice to this beautiful travelogue of mine and making sure that you still enjoy reading my blog :)

Sometime early March 2010 our gang @ work decided to do a weekend trip. We had many options, From Pondicherry to Elephant valley, to Wayanad, to Goa, to Pune. We had almost finalized going for a 3 day trek on the out skirts of Pune and realized that it cannot happen cos we were all from the same team and all of us cannot take the same day off :( [Lesson 1: Never make friends gang from the same team...lol]

Then we said, to hell with the leave, let’s just go chill out in Goa. Praveen made the entire plan in like half an hour and we were all excited to go there! - Guess what, that also flopped, this trip would 1. cost us more than we thought 2. would need us to take 2 days leave..(back to square one). Finally, we all settled for a nice, neat nature trip to Kabini.
Why Kabini? - err simple. It can be visited during the weekend and nobody needs to worry about taking leave. Yes, some of us had already been there with a different set of friends, but that was not a problem at all.
So, as usual, like the enthu-patani I went ahead and booked train tickets, accommodation in Kabini River lodge, Cab service from Mysore - Kabini - Mysore for 8 of us. Super-duper excited that all of us are finally going somewhere!!!!! But, all the excitement came down in no time, when we figured out that out of the 8, 1 had to go to US, other had project deadlines and other two had sudden/urgent commitments at home. So our 8 person gang shrunk to just 4! [Lesson 2: Avoid making advance book for any trip :p] However, the good part is, the 4 of us stuck to the plan like glue and decided to make it come what may.
On July 23rd 2010 we took the train from Chennai to Mysore (Mysore express). The train journey was pretty historic for the reason that, Aanchal, was travelling in a train for the very first time!! (Yippee!!). She had no idea how a SL class in the train would be and it was fun answering doubts like: middle berth kaha se ayegi? upper berth pe kaise chadte hain? Koi Shoes le gaya toh? etc etc. Another historic moment is Praveen finally learnt how to play cards :) hehehe. He hates playing cards but because of popular demand (i.e. 3 out of 4) he had to learn. We first bugged him with "5 cards" and then we super-bugged him with "UNO". Our man was the champ in UNO by the end of the trip ;) [Lesson 3: There is always a chance to learn new things ;) ]. After the cards session we were all set to sleep when Aanchal said "story sunao" - and whenever she said that, the prompt response she got was "Ek gau mein ek kisaan raghu tatha. Toh kisaan ka naam kya hain?" lol... We did finally entertain her with various stories from our life. Praveen was so ignorant that he snored when Vishnu and I were animatedly reciting our love story! Aanchal also did share some stories from her life, which I would refrain from mentioning here (obviously!)

July 24th: Day 1 @ Kabini - We reached Mysore in the morning and we had our cabbie waiting with a placard. We set out for Kabini after a quick breakfast at a nearby hotel. The road trip was scenic and musical - Our driver had songs from God-knows-which-era that we had to plead him to put something more recent and understandable! We reached Kabini River lodge in 3 hours and we were pleasantly surprised by the campus. The place was well maintained and the lodge rooms looked elegant. We explored the campus, jumped on to the tyres hanging on the tree and climbed a tree and took some funny photos until we got our rooms. 
We were asked to assemble for lunch and then our Jeep safari was @ 3 pm. The lodge, not only had good rooms, they had very friendly people to help us out and also had some good food served :). After hogging well at the lunch, we started our jeep safari. the weather was simply awesome, cloudy, cold and drizzling. Praveen took out his heavy binoculars to spot Cheetahs and leopards, but it could only spot spotted dears. The more we looked around, the more dears, yeah in cycle gap we saw peacock. langur, Elephants, kingfisher and many more birds and animals. But to our bad luck no leopard came to honor our presence :( [Lesson4: Go to Kabini during summer, there are more chances of spotting a leopard] We finally ended our day with loads of UNO games and idea photos ;)

July 25th: Day2 - Our day started very early in the morning, by 6 am we were out for our second round of safari - boat safari :). The river was serene and beautiful. We spotted many birds , sambar deer and an elephant crossing from one side of the river to the other. Our morning safari ended in couple of hours, and we again came back without any signs of a leopard :(. We packed our bags and left Kabini with the hope that next time we come here, the leopard  will be nice to us :) We spent the rest of the day @ Mysore. We saw the Mysore palace, St. Mary’s Cathedral (One of the oldest ones) and did some random shopping too :) We had far too much time to spend before our train and were desperate to find a place where we could just sit and yap! We landed in the same hotel where we had breakfast on Day1. We spent 3 hours over 1 cup of tea and the restaurant guy started giving us dirty looks [Lesson 5: Never book a return ticket so late in the night]. We played decent and left the restaurant before the manager came and chucked us out! We decided to just go to the Mysore Station and wait! The friendly driver dropped us back to the station and watched people come and go and comment on every creature on the platform until our train appeared.  We were delighted to step on to it and get back to pavilion :) and that marked the end of our trip :)
So, finally we made a trip and had a super time too :) Looking forward for more...praveen where are we going next?

The Catamaran experience

Saw this song before? Envied the water and the catamaran they were on? For the few of you who don't know, this song was shot in the outskirts of Chennai at "Fisherman's Cove" hotel. Ok, I didn’t mean to write the review of this song here, however, I wanted you to know that I had the exact superb ride on the Catamaran at the exact same place :)) hehehe Envy that??
It was just those lazy evenings at work, we suddenly decided to something fun and adventure during the weekend and then we jumped to the idea of going for a Catamaran ride. Our gang wanted to do this for over a year now and we always had no time to go for it, but somehow this time we all just wanted to go, no matter what! So, as an enthu organizer I went ahead and booked this ride offered @ Rs.600/- per head by the Fish Cove Hotel.
Before we even reached fish cove, we announced the day to be eventful. Why? Yen? Kyun? -  For 2 reasons. One, my friend was driving his new car for the first time, and that too on ECR from his home to Fish Cove. Second, The moment our folks at home came to know that we are planning to get into the middle of the sea, they completely freaked out and gave us a piece of their mind!
Well, none of this brought our spirits down and we managed to reach Fish cove safely! The guy @ Fish cove welcomed us and started doing his duties. Made us sign a paper which said - "I, the Hotel, am not responsible if you die or drown or come alive after this ride" - Well it was not written this blunt, but you get the message! We started walking towards the beach and the group was feeling nervous. Some of us were already saying last prayers, one said, I am just so glad I am going to die with you. And another one was screaming – Oh no, Mummy and daddy not even here to see me for the last time. (Yes, we are a bunch of drama queens and kings :)..)
After wearing the flashy orange and yellow life jackets, we were about to leave for the catamaran and our volunteer from the hotel said - "Guys, I take leave now, Have fun". And we were like - What? You are not going to die with us?? ...OK exaggeration. He left us with the boat owners and the catamaran started with a bang! The catamaran as such is couple of wooden logs tied together to make a sleek boat. We held each other as tight as we could and began to drink all the sea water which came splashing on us. After that, I realize I can close my mouth and stop screaming: P
The water was salty (what else do you expect?), so salty that I was almost puking. We halted in the middle of nowhere (I think we were closer to Andaman than Chennai..hehe) and then the boat guy said, jump. “What?” Said my friend, he didn’t bother to give an answer and just pushed her down. We finally held on to the rope and slowly slid into the sea.
It was just too overwhelming! So much Water, so much salt, so many waves! In a few minutes all our anxiety cooled down and we started enjoying the water. The life jackets actually worked (We had doubts if these would even withstand us). The gigantic sea had won us over and we were just so glad we were there. We floated and floated and floated in all directions the waves took us for about 45 mins and then like obedient kids, came back to the boat.
The catamaran brought us back safe to the shore and we were alive! yes! we made it! We are the most courageous of the lot God made! the ride left us with awe and tan :) and what a memorable day that was!

Interested to do something similar? - Contact Satish from Fish Cove @ 9176178422. Have a great time! Ciao..

To The Dune and Back

I recently went to an ECO Beach Resort in Pondicherry called - The Dune. I heard about this one from one of my friends from Pondy and he kept saying it’s a nice place to go to! I finally made it there on my anniversary (wow I wrote my previous post here while I was honey mooning and now It’s anniversary). Anyways, our anniversary fell on a weekend and for celebrating we wanted to go to a nice place which didn’t ask for loads of travel, and bingo! We went to Pondy!
What can I say about this place, I initially thought that it was an over-hyped, over-priced place made for the firangs who visit Pondy and I and Vishnu would probably be the only Indians around! I am so glad i thought wrong! - The place was heaven! It had nothing high fundu about it, a place made with simplicity and common sense. The cottages are not luxurious and hep, but cosy and serene. I must say the place is little expensive, but I also think that it is a trade off for being close to nature. The cottage we took was "The Flex House". It was supposedly sea-facing - but after tsunami, they grew tall trees/bushes in front of the cottages (Govt rule). The cottage would be a size of a one bedroom apartment. The wall and windows were illuminated and the bed was placed right in the center of the room (Like a big box in the middle of the room). The windows would open to a sitting area facing a small lawn which had a tiny lotus pond, a hammock and a bench. We were given 2 cycles and were told to feel free to cycle around the place.
I have never driven a cycle in my life (though I have driven Scooty, Kinetic Honda and every other small bike). I took inspiration from my hubby and sat on the cycle, nervous! After a few meters of cycling (and him running after me) I finally got the knack and Yippppeeee!!!!!!!! I could CYCLEEEEEE! We spent most of the evening cycling and exploring the property. We finally parked our cycles near to the beach and spent hours looking at the soothing water. We as usual got into our funny photos mood and went click click click :).
We came back from the beach later in the evening and as we got into the cottage...Tada...surprise!!!!!! We had a beautiful flower decoration done on the floor. This surprise was given by The Dune staff :) So nice of them, I thought! We spent some lazy hours and finally went for dinner cycling :). As we entered the fully lit restaurant, the manager routed us away from the restaurant to the tables outside in the lawn. As we approached, I figured we were in for a surprise again! Yes, I was right; the table was beautifully decorated and specially reserved for the both of us :) We had a nice long romantic candle lit dinner and were waiting for our huge bill to arrive and that's when another surprise struck us! The manager, the chef and the waiters all gathered at our table with a small cake which said "Happy Wedding Anniversary" and a big card with a big drawing and signatures of all the staff @ The Dune! We cut cake and thanked for their surprises! Both of us surely enjoyed that moment and completely fell in love with the place.
I was happy that we went there to celebrate our special day! We completely enjoyed our short stay and we never wanted to come out from there. The weekend went by in a swift and the next day we were back to the scorching hot city called Chennai and were back to our normal routines as well!
Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/sak.adeeb/TheDuneFeb2010?authkey=Gv1sRgCNz36Mmtkc6cAw
About the Dune: http://www.thedunehotel.com