Sunday, November 13, 2011

The road to Coorg

Last weekend we did our first road trip - while Emma's parents were here we wanted to show them some non-Bangalore India. We had decided that a stay in the Orange County Resort in Coorg would be a very relaxing and luxurious thing to do - friends of ours have stayed in their other resort in Kabini and loved it. So on Saturday morning we set off with a mix of excitement and nervousness as to what the trip would bring. Our driver, Mahesh, had advised us that an overnight stop in Mysore would be a god idea, partly to break up the 6-hour drive, and partly to visit Mysore Palace. The drive was actually pretty good once we got out of the city, and we arrived in time for lunch at our hotel.

On the map it looked like the hotel was very close to the palace, so we decided just to walk over, although it was a bit more of a trek than we expected as we had to go right to the other side of the palace complex to get to the main gate, which meant crossing crazy busy roads and running the gamut of loads of street vendors pushing their wares on us. Still we made it into the palace no problem and went around the inside. I had been before about 5 years ago, but the others hadn't, and I think they really enjoyed it. Lots of opulence and things to see, although if we ever went without the kids, or when the kids are older, it'd be interesting to have the audio tour or an official guide to get a bit more info. In the grounds they were doing elephant and camel rides - the kids insisted that Emma took them on the elephant and they had a great time. It's a bit over-touristy and there were loads of people trying to scam us out of money but it was a lot of fun. We did find a quiet corner of the palace gardens near a temple where the kids had a bit more space to run around which was a good thing for them. We ended up getting a horse and cart home to the hotel which was awesome - loads of people waved at Toby and Dara! Unfortunately I didn't get any photos as the hotel's guidebook said that pictures aren't allowed in the palace, although pretty much everyone was taking pictures regardless of the rules.

We ended up having dinner just in the hotel - the hotel itself was a bit odd, as it looks amazing on the website but it was actually a bit musty inside, but good enough for one night and a great central location. Next morning we headed out bright and early to Coorg. The road was very smooth most of the way and it was great to be out in the countryside - loads of green everywhere:

The last hour or so was along single-track roads through villages and coffee plantations. Totally beautiful if a bit twisty and bouncy. We saw loads of palm trees, coffee plants, huge bamboo trees and even some monkeys, although they ran away as soon as we got out of the car to photograph them. Eventually we made it to the Orange County resort, and it was even more amazing than I expected. We were welcomed at the central reception area by a lady with flowers, and she put bindis on our foreheads. As it's a coffee plantation they bought us delicious glasses of chilled coffee, and walked us to our villas. Emma, Toby, Dara and I stayed in a private pool villa - it had a lovely large living room/dining room where we set up the kids' beds, and a beautiful peaceful bedroom, plus a small swimming pool in the garden:

The front porch of our villa

The resort has three restaurants, and a really nice pool in the center:

There is greenery everywhere - as well as the coffee plants there are banana trees all around:

The weather looks beautiful in the photos, and it really was as we wandered around the resort. However right before we were going to go to dinner we saw lightning flashing in the sky, and a huge downpour started. I had noticed that in the living room of our villa there is a rockery with plants growing, but hadn't really realized that the roof above this area is open, so when the rain started, it actually rained inside the house!

Fortunately the rain didn't last long, so we had a delicious buffet dinner, and then to bed - pretty wiped out after the travel but well ready for our Monday morning trip to the elephant park. And that's in another blog post.

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