Search This Blog

Monday, October 15, 2012

The beauty of India

Bangalore is a huge city, but it doesn't really feel that big (maybe because I don't have to drive myself anywhere and can't really get around without Suresh or walking a short distance from our apartment).  To me, Bangalore feels a lot like Washington D.C.  Bangalore is also called India's Garden City and has the most beautiful flowers and plants. When I stayed in Washington D.C. I thought they did such a good job keeping a lot of plants as the city grew, and the same can be said for Bangalore.

Here are some pictures of flowers and plants we've taken since being here.  Many of these were from our time in Coorg too.
These trees flower with the most beautiful flowers.  They are right next to the pool at the apartment and I love them.  They do drop their flowers somewhat often though, so I'm sure that the pool boys don't love them as much as I do!

Yikes!  Look at the thorns on that plant!  These were at the elephant training camp where there were all sorts of animals wandering around as well as humans.  I can't imagine what it feels like to step on one of those!

These bell flowers were in Coorg and we loved them!

Suresh does a great job of pointing different things out to us, so we are getting quite the stash of agricultural pictures too!  Sometime I'll share the rice paddies, sugarcane, ginger, and more that we've seen!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coorg – Day 2. Is this what Kim Kardashian feels like?

Day 2 was full of sightseeing including the following:
Nisargadhama (an ecological park) – We started our day at this popular ecological park.  We heard that it had a deer park, boating, and elephant rides.  We visited specifically for the elephant rides.  Once inside this ecological park I felt like I was in 3rd grade visiting Harry’s Woods in Clarksville IA, just on a smaller scale.  It had the typical river, a lot of trees and benches to sit on, some flora and fauna, and deer.  The deer were huge.  We could have gotten into the river, but I don’t feel any desire to get into a muddy river anywhere so we skipped out on that part!  The biggest drawing card, the elephant rides, was shut down as they did not have any elephants.  Bryan was disappointed but we knew there was another chance to ride an elephant at the Dubare Elephant Camp.
What we did not expect at this ecological park was to be the object of so many people’s desire!  I’ve heard and Bryan has experienced locals wanting to take pictures of or with Americans.  Obviously, we stick out and while there are a good number of expats in Bangalore, we are less common in rural areas.  At first some people approached and asked if they could take our picture.  We happily agreed and went on our merry way.  Then, a group of 6 people wanted our picture and we agreed again.  Bryan was sure that “this” was what Kim Kardashian feels like.  I assured him it was not.  There were a few people who chose to hid behind a tree or not-so-discretely take our picture which was just awkward.  We decided we would much rather have them ask to take our picture.  At the deer park we stumbled onto a larger group of 12 or so people who each needed their picture with us individually and then in random groups.  Really people?  You can’t take our picture and share it with your friends?  At some point we told them we were done taking our picture and walked away.  Then, a tour bus full of high-school age boys noticed us and came charging at us.  We took a picture with the first boy (it pays to be past and observant) and then I told them they would have to ask their friend for the picture.  Then I changed my mind and decided I would rather that they stood back and took our picture while peering from afar!
Dubare Elephant Camp – Since there were no elephants at the ecological park Suresh took us to an elephant training camp that also had whitewater rafting.  I did love whitewater rafting, but again, I’m not doing dirty muddy water and this was more like rafting than white water rafting so we just hit up the elephants.  To get to the elephants we had to take a boat across the river to the training camp.  Bryan really enjoyed riding the elephant with 6 or so of his (now) closest Indian friends as they were really sandwiched on top of the elephant!

Abby Falls – Our last stop of the day was a waterfall.  We drove up a different mountain and Suresh parked and then we walked down the mountain to be at the base of the waterfall.  It was misting but the views were amazing!

Day 2 in Coorg ended as we celebrated our first month in India.  Our time has gone by fast and we are excited to plan some more trips to take in as much as we can before we have to head home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coorg – our first weekend trip

Last weekend we went to an area called Coorg, an area 5 hours outside of Bangalore but in the same state, Kanartaka.  The main city is Madikeri, and is a tourist hot spot for relaxation and connecting with nature.
We stayed at a hill station resort that Bryan and I both imagine was similar to staying in a cabin in the mountains in the States.  It had the necessary things like a bed and bathroomand was simple enough to encourage people to  be outside when not sleeping.  We saw a lot and have some great stories, so I’ll post 3-4 separate posts about our trip; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and a post about the flowers.
We left Bangalore at 7 AM on Saturday morning to begin our treck to Coorg.  Suresh, our driver here in Bangalore, took us and we were thankful to have him as he navigated the congested roads and the roads that were hard to get through.  I don’t know how we managed the whole trip without a flat tire, but Suresh did it!
A bit outside of Coorg is a Golden Tietbetan Temple, Bailkuppe.

This gold-coated Buddhist temple was really unique, and may have been my favorite part of the whole trip.
The photo above is the temple from a distance.  After removing our shoes and getting closer, we were able to see just how ornate this temple was!

We went inside and it was HUGE.  While the intricate paintings surrounded us, the statues and decoration at the front was amazing.

The grounds were large so we looked around a bit before leaving to meet Suresh to take us the rest of the way to our resort.
The resort price included 4 meals (breakfast, lunch, high tea, and dinner).  The south Indian food was familiar and tasted good.
After checking in and having lunch, Suresh drove us to Talakeveri, where the Cauvery river starts.  It is also home to a popular temple.  As it is monsoon season, and we were outside Bangalore which is protected from the monsoon rains that the rest of the country gets, the rain picked up and the fog set in.  The humidity was high and the visibility was short.  Suresh navigated the partly paved one-lane road with ease, especially when we met other vans, tour busses, and uncareful drivers.  I’ve seen 2 or 3 lanes become 5 or 6 in Bangalore, but imagine driving up a mountain on a windy one-way road that becomes two!  He did it with ease and we made it to each of our destinations safely.  We tried to take pictures, but they look like blobs of white! 
So we headed back towards our cabin. 
We did stop to see the sunset at Raja’s Seat, a famous viewing spot for sunset and sunrise but due to the fog and our inability to find the sun, let alone see it set, we headed home for the night.
Check back soon for posts about Day 2 in Coorg!