Monday, May 07, 2007

Trip to Kodai

Well, this was a trip that was a long time in the making - if there is any sort of award for the trip that has been planned the longest and expectantly waited for, then this one to Kodaikanal would certainly win it hands down. Anu and myself started dreaming about it, then discussing about it and finally deciding on the place and time - all this was done about six months back in December during our last trip home. Once we had decided that we would be going, came the task of deciding on the kind of trip, which again was pretty easy - one which would allow us to test our hiking leg and also allow us to get up close with the wildlife.

Once we had fixed on Kodai - Ooty we rejected as being too commercialised and dirty and moreover, Kodai was a place that Anu had only vague memories of - came the task of getting the right kind of accommodation at the right place and at the right rate, the last being very important !! We were pretty clear in our minds that we did not want any place in town - as far away from the holidaying crowd the better, one which could give us ample opportunities for trekking and seeing wildlife and nature at its best and one which was also affordable. We went through various travel magazines and articles - the Outlook traveller Magazine as well as their handbook of 75 short breaks from Bangalore - as well as that ever-reliable source of modern-day information, the Net. We finally shortlisted it to the Cinnabar Farm , Elephant Valley and Bison Wells. Unfortunately, we had to scratch the first two as being way too far out of our financial range but then as it turned out, it was not so unfortunate after all. But that is like putting the cart before the horse - I am getting way ahead of my story.

We fixed on Bison Wells, not only because of the information that we got from their website and from the travel magazines but also from the photographs that Binu had put up on his Blog, from his honeymoon there. His photos helped clinch the decision - Bison wells, it was going to be. Since Anu had very few days of leave left, we had to club our vacation with one or more the rare holidays that she has and so we thought of the week of May 1st. We started off our correspondence with George Roshan, the proprietor of Bison Wells and were pleasantly surprised by the prompt and courteous response. He must have been shocked by the mail - somebody enquiring about availability and reservation in May, right at the beginning of the year !! Anyway, the offer sounded too good to be true and we did not want to lose it at any cost - we blocked the dates and George very graciously told us that he would hold it without payment until there was another enquiry for those dates. the procedure is to transfer the entire cost of the stay ( food is included in the tariff) as confirmation of your plans. You lose the entire amount if you cancel within five days of your proposed date of occupancy and 40% if it is before. Fair enough, I suppose, looking at the logistics involved. Having an account with SBI helped - a couple of clicks of the mouse and the deed was done. ha !! The comforts of modern day technology.

We traded e-mails about the travel from Kodai to Bison Wells - about 30km and 90minutes drive away from town - and finally decided that he would get a jeep to pick us up from the bus stand in the morning to his place in town and then on to Bison Wells by his truck ( and that is some vehicle, mind you !). We decided against going by train - in any case, we would have to get down at Kodai Road at some vague hour in the morning and catch a transport up the Ghats to reach the town. This was where I made my first mistake - I plumped for travelling from Chennai to Kodai on Parveen travels, thinking that they were the only operators with a direct service. I learnt to my cost later that SETC as well as KPN Travels operate on the same route and apparently with better service - which would not have been difficult at all. Booked our bus tickets also online - proudly congratulating myself on my tech-savvy aproach to the whole thing. Little did I realise then, that pride definitely goes before a fall and mine was pretty imminent !!!

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