So recently, my class finally went on our much awaited graduation trip. We decided on visiting Karnataka state, namely three places- Coorg, Chikmagalur and Bangalore. We would drop by WonderLa ( a water theme park) in Ernakulam district on the way back home.
The entire journey took five days- we spent 4 days and 5 nights away from home. Most nights we had to make do with sleeping in the bus itself- an extremely uncomfortable task for most, but thanks to my already having spectacular sleeping positions which a gymnast would adore, I was mostly okay. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep either- I would be long out cold by the time the others stop partying and start thinking about sleeping.
Did that make me miss a few memory-making opportunities? Yes. Do I regret it? Not much. Usually I would have had my fill of social interaction by the time we return to the bus so sleep was quite welcome.
We were all very active during the first night, though. We spent hours dancing, singing and just goofing off. I didn’t feel self conscious while dancing at all, in spite of having the grace of a one-legged chicken. It was the kind of silly dancing that people do for fun- not the kind you’d get judged for. I didn’t know most of the songs they were blasting either, thanks to my less than average knowledge of Indian pop culture, but I would mouth the refrains like a pro and try to act like I eat those numbers for breakfast.
The first hotel we stayed in was sufficiently clean and sufficiently spacious. However it didn’t have sufficient water. We were asked to get ready in a few hours to go river rafting, but in a quite ironic turn of events we were left with no water to take a bath in. We ended up not taking a bath after all (whatever limited water we had was conserved for pooping and peeing), and consoling ourselves with ‘hey, we’re going to go get wet anyway, so what difference does it make?’
The dirt never bothered me anyway *dramatic Elsa twirl*
On reaching the designated place for river rafting, we were made to wear (extremely tight) flotation suits. We were divided into three boats, each with a few students and at least one navigator. We rowed to a certain point in the river, on reaching which we were asked to jump off.
I ended up jumping before they asked our group to, so the teacher on board screamed “Are you mad or what?!” while I just floated around, grinning like an idiot.
Floating around in water was fun. The life jacket floated up and threatened to suffocate us at some points, but once we learnt how to get used to it, it was smooth sailing. We did our best ‘swimming’, played at Titanic and drank more dirty river water than we’d give ourselves credit for.
After the ‘rafting’ adventure, we went back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes, had lunch and were taken to the Bamboo forests. As the name implies, it was a large area with bamboo growths here and there- though whether or not the growth was enough to be considered a forest is a question for another day.
There were quite a lot of strange sculptures scattered here and there; mostly, they were just strange shapes painted on to match the jagged remains of a great tree trunk.
On walking a bit longer, we came across a rope bridge which led to an even larger open area, and this one definitely had more than just bamboo around.
There was one lonely tree house, which a bunch of us climbed into in the spur of the moment and then realised it was swaying too much for comfort. Near to it there was the facility to experience zip-lining, but it was undesirable to us for a variety of reasons.
1- It was smaller than the one I’d already experienced at Thenmala
2- There was no water underneath to cushion my fall when the zipline breaks and I plummet to my inevitable death
3- The entire thing cost 100 rupees. 100. I could eat an awesome biryani for that amount!
There were a LOT of small shops here and there at coorg, mostly selling ‘Homemade chocolates’ which sound appetizing, but on reaching home and actually having some, didn’t taste so fabulous after all.
After visiting the bamboo forest, we were taken to a Tibetan temple nicknamed the “Golden Temple”. The Namdroling Monastery houses the descendents of the Buddhist monks who escaped to India after China invaded their homeland a long time ago.
The structure was extremely pleasing to look at, and it suddenly felt like we’d stepped into another world.
The major attractions here were the 40 feet tall statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Amitayus.
Every spare space on the walls were decorated with art showcasing Tibetan Buddhist mythology.
There was a family of stray dogs there who looked extremely well fed and at peace with themselves. The apprentices at the Monastry seemed to care for them a lot, as almost everyone showed the canines some form of affection while passing by.
We also came across a group of little apprentices enjoying themselves playing football!
We spent some time there before we returned to the bus, enjoying watching new people step in and observe their expressions change as the magic of the place took over them.
One could also buy various blessed charms from the nearby shops.
Afterwards, we were taken to what was promised to be a campfire. The image in my mind was a huge clearing with a fire in the middle, around with we all sat with smores (curse you, Enid Blyton and your pictures of the perfect English evening) and telling ghost stories. In reality, the perfect ground was divided into sections with worn nets, and each section had its own fire, around which we were supposed to ‘dance’. A bit louder than what I’d expected, and I suppose inhaling that much ungodly amounts of smoke wouldn’t be doing wonders to my health either, but it was nevertheless, extremely fun!
Tired, we returned to our buses and journeyed to our next destination, chikmagalur!
(To be continued)