Friday, November 23, 2007

Trip to Kodai - Day 2

Well, day 2 actually begins around eleven in the morning when we left George's place in Kodai for the camp, which is in Kookkal Village about 35kms away. The Alamo is George's idea of catering to the yuppie crowd, with money to burn. Stables, log cabins, Mexican food, the works. I am not sure how successful it would be though George feels it holds a lot of promise. We piled into the front of the old vintage army truck along with George and his handyman at the back, to take care of the various gates on the way. All our provisions for the three day trip were in the back. Surprisingly, the vehicle started and rolled off without any trouble.

We took some time to get out of the town - the crowd had started streaming by then and the roads up to the observatory and beyond were blocked. All the vehicles were parked haphazardly on the road and it was total chaos as everyone was playing a game of one-upmanship, being in a hurry. The result being utter confusion on the road, especially at the picnic spots - it made me really sad to see the litter of plastic plates, cups and bottles and God knows what else strewn all over the place. Luckily we got out of the place and it got more and more beautiful as we went further away from town. The final few kms to Kookkal (that is the end of the road !) were really lovely, with breathtaking curves and green meadows - i guess we arrived at the correct time.

Pretty soon, we were passing through thickly wooded areas and George announced that we were almost there - the truck was behaving beautifully though I half expected it to give up its ghost at any moment. A milestone indicated 6kms to Kookkal (or was it 4kms?!) and George cut across the road to park the vehicle. We were greeted by the chatter of birds and animals that we could not identify. George had his handymen take our bags to the camp which is around a 100ms from where the vehicle was parked.

Bala, our cook for the next three days had arrived earlier and was waiting for us with a piping hot lunch, which was served on the sitout. ( Have a look at the photo). And man, even though the lunch consisted of just rice, a curry, with thoran, corned beef and pappad, it was simply delicious. The rice was of the brown organic variety, which George buys from Kodai. Both of us enjoyed it very much and hogged like mad, as if we had not eaten for days altogether. It was topped off with a carrot cake that Ivy - George's wife - had made. Man, that was a cake to kill for !! So delicious that it just melted in your mouth. The heavy lunch plus the beating that our bodies had taken in the bus the previous night, all combined to make us drowsy and we decided to take a nap.

The room inside was basic but neat and clean, with a bathroom/toilet attached. Another door from the bedroom leads into Bala's territory - the kitchen. The bathroom is pretty basic with no running water but don't worry - you are not going to run out of water at any time. George and Bala take care of it for you - there are a couple of wells on the property and they supply you with all the water that you want. In fact, they even go to the extent of heating up water for your bath - what more could you ask for ? No electricity in the place either; no TVs ; no telephones !! What bliss !!

We crashed out and when we woke up, it was slowly getting dark and there was a chill in the air. We had our baths and decided to walk down to the Kookkal Lake which was featured so prominently in the photographs that George had hung about the place. (All his own !) It was a downhill stroll all the way for about a km or so.

When we reached the place, we were in for a disappointment - not much of water and we could see some construction going on - apparently they were building a bund to prevent the kind of havoc caused the previous year. There was a settlement a little further away which we took to be Kookkal village, where we could see a few lights and hear the strains of some music being played - they were having themselves a good time down there. We spent some time there by the lakeside, trying our hands at photography but then gave up and decided to get back.

But getting back was easier said than done - it was a pretty steep uphill climb all the way and by the time we got back to the camp, we were really glad to see that George had a good campfire going. We settled down by its side and brought out our bottle of Australian wine that we had so carefully bought all the way from Bangalore, via Chennai! George took out a bottle of his own home-made pineapple wine and we were all set.

We spent a lovely time by the fireside listening to stories and to the harmonica that George played so beautifully.Since there is no other activity possible around the place, we decided to have an early dinner and go to bed. Dinner was a candlelit one, with the table laid out in the bedroom itself as the outside had become quite cool by now. Started off with a soup, followed by chappathis and chicken curry. I am sure both George and Bala were disappointed with the quantity that we ate - however much we hogged, we could not finish off everything. If this is the way it is going to be, I think I can stay here for quite a long time. The table was cleared and the bed made and it was time to say Good night. The only sounds that we could hear were the ones made by some insects/animals in the forest outside and the occasional creak of the trees.