Recently I had a chance to steal another vacay for myself when a thankful holiday presented itself on a Friday causing a much-coveted long-weekend for all the office-goers. It had been months since I had had a holiday and I was desperate to go on a break. So decided to do just that. And here is the interesting tale of how it unfolded.
The short notice planning
I realized about the long-weekend just a couple of days before the actual holiday. So while people had planned for this weeks before, I started to plan barely two days before.
Munnar is one of my favourite places and has always been on top of my list. I checked for hotels and to my utter disbelief, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE HOTEL AVAILABLE IN MUNNAR! Not counting the ones where you’d have to spend upwards of Rs. 20k. Really, in the last ten years of my travelling, I’ve never seen anything like this. But I had made up my mind to have my well-deserved vacation, come what may! So I searched for an alternate location available which we could visit. THERE WAS A SINGLE HOTEL AVAILABLE IN KODAIKANAL!! And with only about 2 room left. I didn’t bother to check the ratings, reviews or even the photos of the hotel. I just booked it. And fortunately, it turned out to be one of our best stays! Keep reading to find out why.
I had some very vivid memories of Kodaikanal. It was from my visit there with friends many years ago. It was from the time when I didn’t have a worry in the world – job, money or what rating of the hotel were we staying at. One of us suggested we go somewhere, started the car and the rest of us just hopped in. Those were the happy young days. What I didn’t know back then was that the place would change so drastically a couple of years later and how badly I’m going to miss the once pristine natural beauty of Kodaikanal.
Beginning of my vacation woes
On the night of our departure, we reached the bus stop well before the scheduled time. And lo and behold, a large crowd had thronged at the bus station. Literally hundreds of people waiting for their buses. Private and public buses alike struggling to squeeze through the narrow space left on the huge road since most of the road was occupied by the crowds. The crowd was spilling all over and constantly swelling. It was difficult to find a place to stand, let alone sit down. I have seriously never seen so many people waiting at a bus stop at the same time. It was an exodus! It looked like the entire humanity of the IT megacity was trying to escape their routine cubicle lives. Just like me.
As expected the bus didn’t arrive on time. Given the unpredictable Bangalore traffic, we couldn’t be sure when the bus would arrive but to be on the safer side, we had reached the stop twenty minutes before the departure time.
It seemed to be a particularly busy night. As the clock approached midnight, traffic on the roads showed no signs of dying down. It took another hour for the bus to arrive. We had to battle our way through the crowd to get to our bus. We finally caught our seats and our breath and thanked God that our vacation had finally started although with a bumpy start. What I didn’t know was that this was just the beginning. Things were about to get more interesting.
More vacation woes
We reached Kodaikanal in the morning. A little later than the scheduled time at around 10am. We were exhausted. The hotel cab was already present at the stop to receive us. The resort was adorable and we were quite happy about it. The blind booking had paid off.
After settling ourselves down, we went to the reception in the evening. Since we were planning to see Kodaikanal the next day, we enquired about any available vehicle for hire. The hotel informed us that all vehicles were booked for the next two day. They even checked with other hotels and cab companies with no luck.
That wasn’t such bad news. We were in no hurry ourselves and decided to fully use the next two days to relax and unwind at the beautiful resort. For the next two days, we made the garden of the resort, our home as we spent practically entire day there soaking in the sun, reading books and listening to the exotic birds sing. Something which you could never experience in the metro city. We were actually thankful that we got this chance to relax. More about our wonderful stay and hotel in the next post.
Experiencing the mass holiday vacation
We finally got out of our resort on the third day to see around Kodaikanal. We had barely covered two kilometres of the road before we hit a traffic jam. Well, I wasn’t really expecting that. An hour of sitting in the cab with traffic barely moving an inch, I got the hint that our vacation was done for!
We contemplated how best to salvage our vacation from turning into just a three-day sit-in in a cab. Our driver continued to offer suggestions and wait at the steering wheel with the patience of Buddha.
After about two hours, we hollered ourselves to the first stop. It was also the first stop of the route from the town and a popular viewpoint. We stepped out of the car and suddenly felt like we just dropped in the middle of a MahaKumbh mela. It was madness! I felt like I was being mobbed. It was a mega carnival.
This was the scene at just one of the tourist spots –
And you were supposed to buy tickets to enter this spot!
Everywhere we went, there were unbearably long traffic jams, impatient vehicles trying to cut the lane and ultimately causing more traffic jams. And finally, if you reach some tourist spot, there were crowds like you’ve never seen before. People queuing up in hundreds. Most of them busy appreciating themselves and taking selfie rather than appreciate the beautiful landscape for which they came here in the first place.
Standing at the railing looking down at the city lake, it actually looked very beautiful. There was just one problem. The people and all the noise around was ruining it for me. I had to mentally shut out all my surrounding, close my ears, image that I was all alone and then stared at the valley below.
Also read: A memorable stay of ferns and creeks
Searching for solitude
How was one supposed to enjoy the beautiful surrounding in this chaos? It was simply becoming unbearable for me. I really wanted to go someplace quiet. Someplace where we wouldn’t have to face the huge crowds. Our driver suggested a place – some village. I wasn’t too sure but looking at the crowds here, anything else seemed like a good idea. So we took his suggestion and went to this place.
We were extremely fortunate that we made that decision. The trip to the village was breath-taking, mesmerizing and immensely beautiful.
With hardly any people around, we went to a place where you could hear a single bird in the sky calling for his mate.
Put on your headphone and hear the bird sing
More about our trip there to follow in the next part of this blog. If you’re not subscribed to the blog, subscribe now to get notified when I publish my next post.
But one thing I’ve learned from this trip for sure –
Long weekends and holidays are actually a very bad time to go on a vacation
I now try to go for a vacay when there are no holidays and others are busy working their day jobs. It sometimes means utilising my leaves instead of holidays and working while others are holidaying. But I think, for a truly satisfying holiday this arrangement works best for me. I value my so(u)litude on vacation much more than the festivities of the holidays.
Update: Read Part 2 of the story here.