Coorg

Well, I finally managed to get to write this entry. It’s getting kind of busy at work, so I have to write at the Guesthouse, where other things await my attention.

Last weekend, we went to a trip to Coorg, a region in the west of Karnataka, the state in which Bangalore is located. We, that are Michael, Thomas, Kirstin, Michael, Sven, Klaus and Ralf, colleagues from SAP who are also staying at the Guesthouse, Mana, who is Ralf’s wife, Klaus‘ girlfriend, Christine, Lollo, Carrie, and Silke, four students of social pedagogics from Cologne currently working as social workers for YMCA in Bangalore,and myself, your humble author.

We were travelling there in a Tempo Traveller, a clone of the Mercedes Sprinter, which was an adventure in itself. First of all, the Tempo Traveller has 13 places. If you count the names carefully, you will however notice that we were fourteen persons. This means that one person always had to sit on the floor. Furthermore, the setas are rather narrow, seeming to be designed for 13 year old school kids rather then grown-up individuals. This made for a tigh fit, especially on the rear bench where I was sitting, further „comforted“ by the fact that my upper legs are about 2 inches too long for the distance between the seats.

So, we set off for the six-hour drive. At first, we traveled on the highway to Mysore and beyond, which is a really good road. We shared it with pedestrians and cattle herds, and sometimes it led through the middle of a small village. Then, we came to the part where the road was still being built. That meant that either the surface fas really bad, where the road had not been built yet, with holes and gravel strips. Or that there was a detour, over the embankment. Quite different from from Germany, where detours usually have a pavement.

On the way, we stopped at a restaurant on the side of the road, where we had our lunch. The food was good there, and we got to try a local speciality, which you only get there. Unfortunately I forgot the name, but it was very tasty, some kind of a cookie and only slightly spicy.
Then we came to Mudikerri, the town where we booked a hotel. We were greeted by a swarm of winged ants, covering the vent and the floor in the hall in front of the windows. Fortunately, thay stayed out of the rooms, and we ensured the continuity of this state by „sealing“ the door with a towel. The next surprise was the bathroom. It was rather clean, but the shower … well … let me put it this way: There was none. Instead, we found a tap for warm and cold water, and two cups. That is the standard indian shower … you can save a lot of water with that, i suppose :). Whoever wanted to shower after the long trip in the bus (remember, it was about 30°C outside and the bus did not have A/C) was greeted with a nasty surpise: warm water was only available from 6 am till 8:30 am and from 8 till 9 pm. We arrived later than that…

The next morning, we decided to go to a restaurant in the town for breakfast, beacuse the restaurant in our hotel would not open before 9 am. So we got on the bus, drove to the main street – and stopped there, because we were already at the restaurant, about 150 m from our hotel. And our driver would not let us out before he had parked in front of the restaurant on the other side of the road, which took longer that driving there from the hotel. The food there was good, although it was liberally „enhanced“ with peperoni, making it a necessity to search very carefully before delving in. The tea was standard Indian, which means with enough sugar and milk to make it look like coffee and taste very sweet.

Then we set off to discover the surrounding area. Our first visit was the Golden Temple. It is the largest tibetan monastery outside tibet, with over 1000 monks living there. We spent some time there, watching monks pray in the temples and preparing for the next day’s festival. However, it seems as if none of the monks we asked knew what the festival was all about… The monastery is located in a beautiful landscape, as is the whole region. The temples are beautiful, and they have really large statues of Buddha there. The paintings on the walls are, well a little bit disturbing, picturing people being tortured and cooked. Seems to be their concept of hell or something.
After that, we wanted to go for an elephant ride and visit some coffee plantations in the area, which is famous for its coffee. Or „guide“ and driver first took us to some coffee plantations, but they were private property and not quite where we wanted to go. So we continued to the elephant ride. By now, it was about one o’clock, and we were told that it is only possible to ride the elephant if you come at 10 am…..well, bad luck again. We decided that we would to the elephant riding the next day, and continued to the „real“ coffee plantations.

The one we really wanted to see was called Orange County, and is really a holiday resort, and an upper class one. We were just in time to catch the last of the lunch buffet, which was kept open just for us :D. We skipped the guided spice tour through the plantations in favour of more dessert. Also, the rain had made the path very slippery, and none of us was wearing outddor footgear. So we looked at the habitations at Orange County, which are beautifully laid out and range from bungalows to tents at the pool, which is next to the lake. We tried out the hammock and marveled at the beautiful landscape.

After returning home, we finished the evening with a dinner at the hotel’s restaurant (note: Teacher’s whiskey is not really drinkable, even though it is one of the more expensive) and decided, under protest from some, to meet for breakfast at 7:30 already the next morning, so that we could reach the elephant ride in time.

We took our breakfast at the same restaurant as the day before, and set off to the ride. To get there, we had to cross a river, having high water at that time, in a motor boat. After that, we had to pay for the ride, more of course because we were foreigners. While waiting for the ride, we could pet a small elephant who was there (and give some money to his mahout, or trainer). Then we had the ride, four to five people at a time. The ride was only about five minutes, and not very interesting. A longer trip – take a guess – yes! would have cost us more money.

Later on, we went to the Golden Temple again, this time to see the festival. If you expected some fancy ceremonies, I’m sorry. Actually, all we saw were some monks sitting in a temple, chanting to the sound of music coming from a speaker (maybe it was produced in another part of the monastery, I don’t know) and putting on and off some fancy hats. We watched for some time, but then we left, because nothing different seemed to happen. Maybe we missed something, but, oh well…

After this, we returned back to Bangalore, as we had a six hour plus ride before us and needed to work the next day. All in all, it was a nice weekend, and good to get out of Bangalore some time. Fresh air – wow, I already have problems remembering what that is ;).
See the pictures of this trip here. Many thanks to Ralf, who organized this trip for us, and Mana, whose translations where so valuable that weekend.

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