Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coorg in the Summer

It's strange but true. I've been (traveling) in India for so long now that I'm beginning to return to places that I have visited before. I remembered my last Coorg trip being colder, wetter and gloomier. This trip looks more like this:


"A" and I wanted to submerge ourselves in the forests and learn a little bit about organic and eco-farming and Rainforest Retreat seemed perfect. Located up on the hillside, about 15km from Madikeri, Rainforest Retreat is literally surrounded by nothing but trees.

Rainforest Retreat
Click here for website.

You should only stay here if:
a) You (and your friends/family members) are ready to socialize with other guests because you'll be seeing them at every meal (or come on the weekdays to avoid the crowd).
b) You want to be far away from modern civilization and experience living in nature (life is very basic here, no cell phone reception or wifi, so you can leave your iPhones behind).
c) You are ready to go on 2-4 hour jungle treks (bring good walking/trekking shoes).
d) You don't mind bug and leech bites (bring long socks and mosquito repellent).

Rainforest Retreat
Our room, apparently one of the nicer ones. I was OK with the room ("A" thought it was too basic) except it was situated next to the dining area, so it was noisy all the time. I won't recommend staying in this room at all, unless you are an early riser and a late sleeper.

The communal dining area that was next to our room.

Rainforest Retreat
Our bathroom. Check out the clay hot water container. It was manually heated by burning wood right outside the building.

Rainforest Retreat
The tents. If we knew these existed, we would've signed-up to stay here instead. The tents are big enough for two single beds and sit on top of the hill, overlooking this...

Rainforest Retreat
Organic plantation of vanilla beans, cardamons, coffees, teas, peppercorns and a lot more.

Here's the pavilion or the "reception" area and the only place in the whole lodge with electrical outlets.

Rainforest organized a few hiking trips in the forest and in and out of some other plantations.

Hiking uphill.

Cows grazing in the paddy fields.

Someone's abandoned tea plantation.

A thousand year old tree.

Tarring the roads.

The town's post office.

River in Coorg
Some locals doing laundry by the river.

Some other locals doing nothing by the river.

On our last day, Arun, the lodge manager, gave us a plantation tour and we discovered so much more of what Rainforest Retreat has to offer. He explained the many ways the plantation is recycling waste from animals and plants, which I found to be super interesting.

Rainforest Retreat
Here's where they produce methane gas (from cow dung), used in their kitchen stoves to cook our food!

Rainforest Retreat
We saw this little caterpillar (looks like a dragon, no?) while hanging outside Arun's room discussing reincarnation. Yes, we were there for a while.

Rainforest Retreat
Arun and some nice backpackers whom we played pictionary with on our first night at Rainforest Retreat.

Thanks Arun for being such a wonderful host!

Madikeri Town

Madikeri Fort - this is probably the only touristy thing we did on the whole trip. There is a temple inside that was removed by the British and was replaced by an Anglian Church, which is now converted to a museum.

A door in the fort.

On our way back to Bangalore, we dropped by Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement, to visit some fellow Buddhists. Note: "A" is not a Buddhist. Here is some information on Bylakuppe from an older post.

The Golden Temple, Byllakupe
The famous Golden Temple.

Monks in Byllakupe
We saw many Tibetan monks practicing what "A" called as the sound of "one hand clapping".

After a weekend of "roughing it", we thought we should treat ourselves to a day of luxury. While looking for Bylakuppe, we stumbled upon an enticing billboard that said "Spa on the Kaveri River". Before we knew it, we were checking in to a bungalow at Amanvana Spa and Resort.

Amanvana Spa and Resort

Amanvana, Coorg
The quality of this place is comparable to what you'd get at a resort in Bali. In fact, with the nicely manicured gardens and the beautifully blossomed frangipani trees, you'd think you were in Bali.

Amanvana Spa
Our private villa.

Amanvana Spa
Our bathroom.

Kaveri River
The Kaveri River, literally a step away from the resort.

The funny thing about traveling in India is that you never know what to expect. "A"'s advice: stop having expectations.

More pictures from this trip.

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