Some Pumbaastic Updates…

in his very own page of this blog: Pumbaa…our labbie!

He’s a beeg boy now, and has a whole new personality from what I updated last πŸ˜‰ So, check it out. Learning for anyone looking to buy a labbie too πŸ˜€

CoffeeGudda @ Chikmagalur: a travellogue

Yay! Travellogue time again πŸ˜€

Yea, so I “tripped” again. This time, not with the husband / family, but with colleagues! After joining this company, there were two trips planned, both of which I backed out of — them both being weekend trips, and it being impossible for me to sleep without my daily night quota of the husband’s hugs and kisses πŸ˜€

This time, however, when the trip was planned itself, I was told that the previous trips were cancelled because I backed out at the last minute, causing a chain of backing-out! πŸ˜€ So, after much confusion and tantrums (me saying ‘don’t wanna go’, husband saying ‘go, have fun’), I gave in and said OK. I had no clue what I bargained for!

Anyway, after work on a Friday night, 14 of us set off to Chikmagalur, a hill station in south-west Karnataka. We left by about 12 am and reached Coffeegudda, the homestay we book for ourselves, by about 7.30 – 8.00 am.

And was the place awesome! After all the speculations of the place’s existence, we were all mighty pleased. And I say this, because when we Googled “Coffeegudda”, nothing turned up!! And of course, if it’s not on Google, it just does not exist, right? πŸ˜€

But well, it did exist, actually! Tucked away peacefully, even beyond Google’s reach!

Well, the place is rather new, and the guys are yet to make a website of their own. All they have now are a few pages of CoffeeGudda hosted on, a free website builder πŸ˜‰ So, I suppose this post of mine would be CoffeeGudda’s first official mention on any website! Yay! πŸ˜‰

CoffeeGudda: 16 acres of one of the most well maintained coffee and betel nut estates in Chikmagalur! A pretty homestay, mouth-watering food, fantastic hospitality, warm people, awesome surroundings, a gentle stream that meanders by and a waterfall of its own!! How much more can one ask for!?

Yes, you read that right! A huge, amazing, natural private waterfall!

An awesome suspension bridge takes one from the road to the homestay, over a serene, delightfully lovely stream that gurgles along happily beneath. The mood-setter for the vacationer πŸ˜‰ I swear it’ll set your mood. We were all wide awake from our seconds-ago groggy state the minute we saw the stream πŸ˜‰ The bridge ends where the gate is and a pathway starts. Lined on both sides by majestically tall betel nut trees, the pathway keeps you in its mysterious clutches for quite a while before it hands you over to the homestay.

View of the suspension bridge

The betel nut trees that stood majestic and tall πŸ™‚

Where the pathway leads to the homestay...and you see...

...CoffeeGudda, the homestay!

CoffeeGudda, the homestay. Another view: of the three rooms, the swing chair and the serenity πŸ™‚

Where we ate and drank. The little, thatched dining centre πŸ™‚

Day 1 began with all of us freshening up and heading for some breakfast to the lil’ thatched shed. πŸ™‚ Hot idlis with some real yummy sambar and coconut chutney. Anyone who can make a sambar that yummm can make any damn food the most tastiest way! πŸ™‚ Oh and some very nice kesari too πŸ™‚

And then, we set off to the “private” waterfall. I asked them how high it is, but they weren’t sure! Imagine having one’s own waterfall and not even bothering to know its height. Sigh! Life is very partial to some πŸ˜€

The foot of the waterfall. Technically πŸ˜‰

The trek up to the falls... (pic courtesy: a colleague)

We trekked up to the water fall from below — and it was a tough job! We had to climb up huge boulders, duck under fallen trees at places, cling on to ropes and pull ourselves up at others, get bruised and grazed on the shrubbery around…but when we did reach up, it was worth all the effort!

The all its glory. πŸ™‚ And the IBMers, in all theirs πŸ˜€

With such force it came tumbling down the rocks...

Standing there under all that force was awesome.

It was magical. There was just the water, greens, birds and us. It was truly magical! And standing there under all that force was awesome. It gave a lovely massage — water therapy — that washed away all our weariness, all the strained muscles, all the tiredness. It was just splendid. And I guess the BEST part of it all was its being exclusive to us. There were no mad crowds, no litter, no lack of cleanliness. The place was spotlessly clean πŸ™‚

After spending about 2-3 hours there, we were on our way back. the trek down was tougher. We had to almost slip down the slops on the sides of the boulders, hanging on to just one rope for support! πŸ˜€ It was sexy! πŸ˜€

We were all tired and again went for our baths and freshening up. Lunch waited. A real spread that was. Chappathis, two kids of chicken curry, egg roast, rice, sambar, rasam, beetroot subzi, cabbage sabzi, curds, pickles…and all of that in ABUNDANCE! We all ate to our tummies’ fill and praised the cook to no end! πŸ˜€ In fact, we were all surprised they served so much; we only expected a humble meal!

After lunch, while some of them went off to snore, a few of us sensible ones set off to chill by the stream. I swear! I haven’t done anything that “wow” in quite sometime. The time we spent at the stream was so amazing, we yearned to extend the trip and stay on for another day πŸ˜€ I personally wished I could just stay there forever, and tell the husband and parents and Pumbaa to come over with all the clothes and furniture πŸ˜€

Bridge across the river er...the stream yay!

Gently flowed the water, gurgling, giggling and swirling...

And we chilled out in its coolness...

Miss it soooo much!

By about 6.30, we headed back to our rooms, freshened up (again!!) and sat around a campfire to enjoy the clear night! The temperature had dipped, and Β  the fire began dying out, one of us would rush to get more firewood! πŸ˜€

The campfire that kept us going way into the night...

After anthaksharis and ghost stories and dappankuths and more dancing, we had some yummy dinner. After which, we all split into groups, each doing their own thing. Some sat by and drank; some had pep talks, we played rummy πŸ˜€ I had sprained my neck as we trekked down the falls, and by night, it was horrid. I could barely move my neck 😦 There was another trekking planned the next day, and i was almost sure i wouldn’t make it. And that added to the pain 😦 😦 😦

Came morning, and I woke up hoping I was alright. but no. Could still barely move the neck. There was game of badminton in progress, and while i badly wanted to join in, I was in no state to play.

Early morning badminton

A few concerned ones said I better stay back…but well, even if I didn’t trek, the neck wasn’t fine. Might as well trek, I said. And off we went. How can I ever say no to trekking? And well, it was just in a tea estate (or so we thought!). Now how bad can that get!? So, once again, while a few losers slept, 9 of us set off. A bus took us halfway, and then we were to get on to one of those open jeeps that resembles the ones that carry cattle πŸ˜€

We were in for a major surprise. Turned out we were not actually headed to a tea estate, but was going to trek down an insane mountain range and trek up another!! We were headed to Horanadu and beyond!

Horanadu...scenic, isn't it?

The cattle jeep took us cattle, crossing little jungles and streams and coming out on to rough roads with the sun above us, scorching!

The little jungles, all of which had streams flowing across the roads! Sexy it was!

The roads were worse than it looks heer. At points, it bordered on scary!

With us almost dangling all over the jeep. My neck was becoming worse that I ever imagined it would…but the scenery was soo good, I was clicking away like crazy πŸ˜€ [reached home to find the ugliest bruise I got from all that banging onto the jeep railings! sigh. Lesson: never click way while on an open jeep on bad roads! :D] And when I almost started wondering if I made a stupid mistake, deciding to come, we left the rough roads to reach the zenith of the mountain!

The zenith of the mountain: Gaaligudda!

And the views took our breaths away!

Gaaligudda: the best trekking I've ever done! How many colours and textures do you see? πŸ™‚

Painting or picture?

The open jeep that took us cattle to Gaaligudda

View from the top. That little piece of green down there was a field we crossed while in the bus, even before we got on to the jeep! Which shows that we came up quite a height!

This has been by far my toughest trekking experience! Mainly because of the incline. It was almost an 80 degree slope downwards — with NOTHING to support you climb down: no boulders, no sturdy rocks, no plants, nothing! In fact, to add to all the scariness, here was a lot of loose gravel! And nothing to even break a fall if one of us were to go tumbling down!

Except three of us, the rest were all plain scared to move an inch down. But the fact that our jeep had left us there and had gone all the way to the top of another mountain where it would meet us again, left us all with no choice but to trudge down. There was a guide who helped three guys. And two other guys and I helped down the other three girls. The scariest part was that if the person we were supporting were to lose footing, she’d take us along too!

See that white spot towards the left of the pic? Draw an imaginary line up from the words "Draw an" here and you'll find it πŸ˜€ That was our jeep, waiting there for us to climb this slope down, climb the other one up and reach there!

And let me tell you, the slope isn’t as easy as it looks on the pics!

The group inching down slowly, carefully...

And that, is when I, for the first time in front of the colleagues, loudly and clearly yelled “F***!” πŸ˜€ I and the girl I was helping down had made headway and reached what looked like the bottom first. I turned around, clicked a pic and was just putting back the lens cover when I heard a shout from above. We both looked back to see a rock tumbling down right at us! My greatest fear was that it’d bring along more loose rocks and gravel. if that happened, we both would surely have reached the foot of the mountain in no time! As the rock passed us by in mere inches, I looked up sheepishly to yell out a “Sorry”! πŸ˜€ They pulled my leg all day for that! πŸ˜€

As we trekked further down and finally did reach the foot, we heard a lovely gurgling sound. “Water!! Waterfall, more like it”, we all yelled and rushed forward to find this little beauty nestled among some rocks and dense green!

The beautiful stream that takes origin from the foot of a lovely waterfall!

The cute "little" water fall which proved size does NOT matter, water does! πŸ˜€

No. It just looks small. When we got under it, it was almost double our size. yet, the water came down with such force, that when we leaned against the rocks and went completely into the water, it was like we were deep under the sea! Awesome, splendid and fantastic it was!

The first two to get into the ice water πŸ™‚ Just for perspective.

We spent about half an hour frolicking there. The water was icy cold and getting people in was a huge challenge πŸ˜€ But with the effort of our official “water splasher”, we all were in, finally! Had a fab time. Though we wished to remain in for longer, we had to leave back to Bangalore by 1.30…and it was already 11. we had just another hour to climb back, another to reach the homestay and a half more to have lunch, pack up and leave!

Heaving, panting and almost dying, we trekked back. trekking in wet clothes, that too UP a mountain, is not a good idea at all πŸ˜€ Yet, we did it, every now turning around to catch the wonderful painting Nature painted. When we finally caught a glimpse of the jeep, extra adrenaline pumped and we all almost ran up! And we were on our way back to CoffeeGudda πŸ™‚

A beautiful tree we saw on the way back πŸ™‚

The way back from Gaaligudda, to CoffeeGudda

The tea estate we "thought" we were going to; shot from the bus πŸ˜€

The stream near CoffeeGudda...where we idles the previous evening, and where the losers who didnt come trekking idled while we trekked πŸ˜€

While this trip definitely gets NO points for being a fab one by all respects, CoffeeGudda definitely gets it for being a real ‘getaway’, for yummy food, for a private waterfall (I still can’t believe the awesome luck of those ppl!) and the best trekking I ever did!

We bade goodbye to the homestay owners and left content, loaded with packs of CoffeeGudda-Chikmagalur coffee powder! πŸ™‚

CoffeeGudda rocks! πŸ™‚

ETA: Here is the link of CoffeeGudda’s very own website πŸ™‚

The 5 Best Cameras for Your Next Vacation: a guest post

It is not often someone writes to me asking if they can use my blog as a platform to write a post πŸ˜€ I received a mail saying my blog is much loved (yay!) and would be a perfect place to host a post. I agreed, and replied that I usually write nonsensical, sometimes funny, daily-life stuff — and that most of my posts are picture posts and travellogues. I guess there wouldn’t have a been a better suited guest post for a photography and travel lover like me πŸ˜‰ Thanks a lot, Jennifer πŸ™‚

So here it is, in Jennifer’s words:

The 5 Best Cameras for Your Next Vacation
How long have you planned that perfect vacation? And how long will you remember those breathtaking sunsets, ivy-covered castles, or that time you drank too many local ‘specials’ and your tongue turned purple? Choose your camera wisely, and those memories will be preserved, in all their colorful glory, for years to come. Whether you want a camera with more buttons and gadgets than 007’s car, or a simple camera that will let you point, shoot, and get back to your vacation, you’ll find it here.

Small, Simple, Powerful
Want a camera that fits in your pocket, but can still rise to just about any picturesque occasion? The slim Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 is the best point and shoot camera out there. I think the automatic mode is perfect for an active, light traveler who wants great pictures without a lot of fuss. But if you want more control over aperture and shutter speed, it also has manual options. And the GPS feature is a must for any secret agent in training. Go ahead and video your friends running with the bulls, or snap the sun setting over the mountains. This 12.1 MP dynamo can take it.

Take Control
If you want an SLR for even more control over those shots, then choose the 14.2 MP Nikon D3100. I love how much less the D3100 costs than many so called professional cameras, but without sacrificing all the quality. It also weighs less than many SLR cameras. There are tons of individual scene settings like Child, Sports, or Night Portrait, and the 3 inch monitor is perfect for viewing your pictures or videos on the go. So be artistic with a sweeping landscape, or quickly capture that once in a life-time action shot.

Don’t be Afraid of the Water
If your plans include the wet and wild, then be sure to bring along the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2. Unlike its earlier listed cousin, the TS2 is shockproof, freezeproof, and, my favorite feature, it can be submerged in up to 33 ft of water. Some other great features are the extended battery life, the image stabilizer for shaky hands, and an impressive 14.1 MP. Make your own water adventure movie, or go searching for the abominable snowman; this camera won’t fail.

On a Shoe String
Even if you spent all your money planning your awesome vacation, you can still find a great camera. For around $100, the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS has an impressive 12.1 MP, a wide LCD viewing screen, and 15 shooting modes. I really dig the sleek contours of the silver model. So don’t worry about having to choose between food and photography on your vacation, this mighty little camera is here to help.

The Professional
Is your vacation just an excuse to take the perfect picture? If you are willing to spend quite a bit more money, then try the Nikon D7000. At 16.2 MP, the D7000 has all the resolution you could ever need. I like the 6 frame per second shooting capacity for moving targets, like birds in flight. You can capture the brightest sunrise or the lowest lit cavern. Try shooting your next whale-watching trip with HD 1080p video for cinematic quality flipper action. This camera will take you as far as your photographer dreams can imagine.


Written by Jennifer Skogen.