Some of the best trips in the world begin in the worst ways possible, and looking back, I’m proud to say that Coorg was one of them. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong, and everything that could brilliantly, coincidentally, absolutely mindboggling-ly go right, also went right. Here’s how:
It all began with the bright idea of booking the bus tickets before we booked our actual tour package. Everything went wrong. Yes, the bus tickets were booked, yes, we got excited like a bunch of 4-year-olds, and yes, the excitement was short-lived. It wasn’t long before we tried to book the tour package, and voila ! It was booked out.
So here was us; already having spent 1000 bucks each to travel to the meeting point of a tour package that wasn’t really booked, or even bookable. We had transport, but no idea or plans of what to do there or where to stay. It was ten minutes of staring at each other’s faces controlling the urge to either burst into laughter or tears.
However, we didn’t let it faze us. We promptly checked AirBnB, booked the cheapest thing available and decided to just go for it.
(the following stunts have been performed by idiotic amateurs, please do not try to carry them out yourself, expert supervision or not. Just don’t.)
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #1 : Always book the tour package first. Don’t be us.
The second brilliant brainwave we had was the last minute urge to order pizza. Basically, 5 broke-ass college students about to spend through their teeth on a 3-day trip, deciding to spend even more, half an hour before they had to leave for the trip (with the added possibility of maybe missing the bus till the pizza got delivered).
Then, in a stroke of luck (or bad luck) which was probably the universe telling us it thought we were really stupid, the website tells us the pizza order didn’t get placed. Which meant it wasn’t coming. “Alright,” we said, as we trudged sadly towards the mess ready to eat potatoes and rotis.
We’d given up hope. The pizza wasn’t coming, we might as well eat our normal food and leave. Walking around the house without the looming excitement of our pizza made everything look grey; the naturally grey sofa, the naturally grey curtains; the black dog – somehow, it was all only black and white and grey because the pizza wasn’t coming. OR WAS IT ?
Because at that very moment, the bell rang and I made a joke about how it was the ghost of our potential pizza delivery man.
…except it was our pizza delivery man.
…with our pizza
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #2: Always name an unexpectedly delivered pizza, The Miracle Pizza.
So here we were, 5 of us, already missed our deadline for leaving, stuffing the pizza and our bags and ourselves into an Uber, ready to leave for a bus stop we know only the general area of. Brilliant.
Somehow, though, with a brilliant stroke of luck, we found our stop, we found our bus, and it wasn’t bad for the cheapest booking option online. That’s when the actual journey began.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #3: If you’re going to travel with friends and you expect to get sleep during an overnight journey, haha.
At the same time, overnight journeys are brilliant because you get to reach your destination early in the morning, leaving you the entire day to freshen up and get ready (without wasting extra money on staying at the hotel for another night). Also, even though you probably didn’t sleep a wink and probably won’t sleep a wink through the entire trip with your friends, it’s entirely worth it. (as long as you’re not forced to sit next to Aadya on the bus ride, eugh)
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #4: Always reach your travel destination in the morning, if you plan on saving money.
As an added benefit, we reached Coorg at around 4:30am in the morning, while our check-in to our AirBnB was at 8am – giving us around 3 and a half hours to kill before we had to leave for check-in. Responsible adults as we were, we decided to walk around, unattended, in the dark, in a new place, making as much noise as we could. Oh, we also ate soggy sandwiches we made the night before. Yum.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE#5: Never eat sandwiches packed the night before and slept on by all the members in the group.
At the same time, watching the city wake up; going from just us in the streets to shopkeepers busily walking towards their shops, housewives throwing their curtains open, old men going for their morning walks and even cats busily stretching and mewling to the sun rising behind the hills; it was incredibly beautiful. There was something about a city waking up that made the entire place feel like a single organism in perfect harmony with itself, working and coming to life like clockwork. Added to that, the colors of hills in contrast to the skies and the company of friends; there are very few words to describe the experience.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #6: Always watch a city you’ve traveled to wake up.
However beautiful everything was, it had to come to an end. pretty soon it was 8:00am, and the time for us to leave for our AIRBnB accomodations had come.
So for those of you who’ve never booked AirBnB, either of two things can happen.
1. You get MUCH more than your money’s value, or
2. You get MUCH less than your money’s value.
In our case, it was the former.
For the price of approximately 1000 per person per night, we were given complete access to a dorm that could fit over 40 people, an entire hill to ourselves, a bonfire in the night, a lake to go swimming in, as well as WiFi.
Here’s what our accommodations looked like –
Oh and there was a nice Gazebo too.
The morning was mostly spent lounging about, freshening up and washing the grime of the night journey off ourselves. However, once that dirt was off, we decided to go jump into the lake and dirty the new clean clothes we’d just worn.
There are no pictures of this time, but the lake games included throwing the ball and chasing after it, as well as a game of catch-catch where Aadya did the hard job of doing absolutely no physical labour and being the net for our game. I mean, I SAY catch-catch, but I think Naomi heard Drop-Drop because that’s all she did with the ball. Tsk Tsk.
Tired from the lake, we had a brilliant lunch (read: sarcasm) and tried to play games in the night, but mostly slept off.
Slowly the day melted into evening, and the sky turned beautiful again. Then slowly, the evening turned into night AND IT WAS BONFIRE TIME.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #7: Always have bonfires, and always take pictures of the sky
We peacefully slept off after the bonfire and woke up fresh for a great day of work and traveling !
To be honest, this wasn’t meant to be a trip that focused solely on the place. While it can be argued this isn’t exactly respectful to the place, trips with friends usually end up being like this, especially after the trip takes place after 2 weeks of gruelling exams. The first day over, the second day involved immense bus-hopping in order to get to our destination – Bylakuppe Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery located in Coorg.
The best part here wasn’t really the monastery at all. It was the brilliant little kid we found inside it, who insisted on treating us with the most abject curiosity in the world. Loving his wide eyes and silent mouth, we decided to document him.
UNRELIABLE TIP#8: Make friends with little kids, but try not to make yourself seem like a kidnapper. Parents don’t react well to that.
The monastery having done, we began our task of bus-hopping our entire journey to the capital, Madikeri, once again, where the bus headed to Bangalore would pick us up. Once again the day melted into the evening, and we were treated to beautiful skies.
The bus stop that you see is the Madikeri main bus depot, the terminal for government buses. It’s always advisable to take these buses over private ones, as the rates are usually fixed, lower and more reliable than private buses. Plus, there are lesser chances of tourists getting fleeced.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #9: Government Buses, Yes. Government schools, no.
Now that we’d reached Madikeri well ahead of our bus departure time, the question of our dinner remained. Following Naomi’s mother’s advice, we started walking to a restaurant closeby.
Except, Google maps took us down the shadiest road possible – behind buildings, through other people’s houses, the smallest, unlit bylanes ever. What an adventure.
Dinner was great, though.
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #10: Adventures make trips worthwhile (this one really is quite unreliable, so follow it at your own risk)
And that’s it. There it was. a 2000 bucks worth super-budgeted trip, finally over. We faced what I call a ‘journey hangover’ the very next morning. Everybody sick of everybody else, all we wanted to do was just lock ourselves in our rooms and sleep off to dreamland. Which brings me to the final
UNRELIABLE ADVICE #11: If you’re planning a trip, do it with Naomi, Yohaan, Aadya and Gayatri.