As we began planning our excusion into Coorg (also known as Kodagu), or “The Scotland of Ireland” as their tourist posters say, a few weeks ago, we asked our local friends about it.
Them: “Oh yeah! Coorg is brilliant – you should definitely go for the weekend.”
Us: “Oh good! How far away is it?”
Them: “9 hours.”
….Now I don’t know about you, but in the good ‘ol U.S. of A. there is literally no way that I would attempt a journey of 18 hours over the course of 1 normal Sat/Sun weekend AND expect a good time. It just wouldn’t happen. Here however, night buses are used for anytime, anywhere, a feat which, if you’ve even seen PICTURES of Indian roads (or Indian buses for that matter), means that in order to sleep, Indians must be accustomed to using pillows of steel and body sweat.
Our journey there was not particularly fun, I barely slept and when I did, it was rudely interrupted by strange stoppings (at one point, we stopped for more than an hour while they actually hauled body-sized white bags off of our roof, with 2 inch thick chains – it sounded like we were IN a thunderstorm). Also I REALLY had to pee. But women, apparently, don’t pee when the bus pauses for the men to get out, drink some coffee at a stand in the middle of the night (yes, this happens every hour or two) and piss on the wall next to the road. The women here are magical I tell you. So I held my pee and tried to sleep.
By the time we got to Coorg, we were an hour and a half late (becaue of the body bad incident), the sun had risen and we were all a little delirious with lack of sleep. We checked into our hotel which was just across the street and which turned out to be pretty awesome actually. Hotel Chitra was cheap, CLEAN and had an 8-bed room option, which is why we’d opted for it originally. When we walked into our room, we had beautiful light streaming in through the big windows, a lovely view of the town’s moss-overgrown homemade roofs and 8 little beds waiting for us like Snow White. Room service came and asked if we wanted coffee, to which we quickly agreed, before crashing for a few minutes.
After we were caffeinated and a little bit recovered, we went exploring the city, which was completely stunning. I didn’t have my camera with me, so the photos I’m posting are one of my roommates (a brilliant photographer, might I add). All the kids would say hello or good morning to us and the mothers would look at us shyly and sometimes give us a wave from the doorway. Everyone keeps their front doors open in the morning, and we got glimpses of such beautiful Indian life, all the girls getting ready for school, ribbons in their hair and braids down their back, the little Muslim boys readjusting their topi’s and running off trying to hold it in place. It was so idyllic and I’m sure that’s such an generalization and undermines their life experience, trials, tribulations, etc. but it just looked like a nice place to grow up.
The weekend proceeded the way these weekends do – trying to catch up on sleep while also seeing the beautiful sights and sounds the place has to offer. We took a very long rickshaw ride (crammed with four of us in the back) and went to the Namdroling Monstery/Golden Temple in Kushalnagar, the 2nd largest Tibetan community in India and an altogether stunning place – though strangely commercialized to pay for its upkeep. We also watched the sunset at a park up the mountain from our hotel, where the view of green and blue mountains and fog and sunset reminded me SO strongly of my own mountains back home and how sad I am to know they’re changing colors right now and I’m not getting to see it. It was such a lovely weekend.
Our way home was infinitely better than our way there – the bus was underbooked so everyone got two seats to themself and could stretch out (though the seat next to me was literally tied in place with a curtain). Additionally – big tip here – I had 2 empty plastic water bottles in my bag and since they’re filled with air they are perfect shock absorbers for the bumps and probably worked better than pillows would’ve. Next stop: Hampi.
(In case you’re curious about the cost of such purchases in India, our bus tickets were 660 roundtrip ($12) and our room was 1600, split by 8, which came out to less than $4 each. Room service coffee? 10 INR each – or 20 cents. Rough cost of a meal was 30-40 [<$1] for Breakfast, 40-50 Lunch [roughly $1] 80-90 Dinner [$1.75 or so])
P.S. It takes our internet FOREVER to upload photos to this site – so I just made my fb album public – here are my pictures: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151059781967499.428305.736917498&type=1&l=54d87bc84a