Friday 13 April 2018

Grandma and Grandad , the boys are converted , heat and mosquito bats

We have had a wonderful time with Grandma and Grandad but they have returned to England now. However, before they went, Mala , to our surprise, turned up on the Sunday to cook a special going away meal. It was her day off so we were very grateful because the meal was lovely and it was such a thoughtful thing to do.

Mala had also chosen her favourite photo and had it put on a mug for Derek and Christine. Derek and Christine had bought Mala a bag so there were smiles all around.

The next day, we got up early (and let the boys have a day off) to go to the airport to say good bye but it is not like Britain where you can go in the departure lounge. Only people actually flying are allowed in the airport so we waved from afar.

They had a good journey home and have reported to us the rainy conditions.

The boys are converted 

We have to be ready and at the bus stop by 7:15 and it was difficult making the boys pack up so we "forgot" to do it one day. Both came home and said nothing. When questioned in the evening they had both eaten in the canteen and had Indian food. Milo's teacher even sent me a photo. Max has even started to ask for some Indian type rice and chicken at home too. This is good news as I was running out of things to give them.
So, another proud moment for the Coles.

Heat and mosquito bats

 It has got hotter, especially at night, and we are now putting on the air conditioning to help us sleep. The only problem is that you then have to contend with the noise of the unit and the fan, if that is on. I was eyeing up the pop up mosquito nets to sleep outside in, when the ladies at the coffee morning pointed out the amount of squirrels, ants, mosquitoes, scorpions and the fact that someone was greeted by a cobra on their balcony and that it really wasn't a good idea.

With the heat comes more mosquitoes, so we have invested in some mosquito bats that electrify the mosquitoes. It is a very satisfying piece of equipment-it even has a light on it. We need more, one in each room and the car, so we don't have to keep running and looking for them.

Ever since we came back from the elephant camp, there has been an increase in the amount of mosquitoes. It is difficult to get through the front door. If someone comes round, you immediately yell, as politely as you can, for them to get inside.
If the door is open, even for the briefest moment, the mosquitoes think it's party time and flood in.
 So you arm yourself with a bat, or the chemical spray (but the bat is more satisfying). You then spend the next five minutes swirling the bat in all directions as it crackles and snaps with demise of the mosquitoes. Sweeping up the dead mosquitoes is not as satisfying.

Sitting outside now in the evening is difficult unless you are smothered in cream or are just brave and good at swatting. As we go to the bus in the morning, we can hear manic swiping and crackling going on as people open their front doors. Mosquitoes like early mornings too!
The gardener has sprayed the garden and it is a bit better but even so, it is a constant battle and one that will continue, apparently, until the monsoon starts in June.

Sunday 8 April 2018

Dubari elephant camp.

We set off for Dubari on the third leg of the trip, happy that we had seen a wild tiger. Another two hours were spent in the car and to break the journey, Arjun suddenly dropped us off outside a Tibetan Buddhist temple. It was the middle of the day and even walking through the entrance was difficult under the hot sun.
We could see an ornate temple that was huge and could hear a very loud chanting, singing, drumming noise and horns blowing. Milo was absolutely terrified and refused to move. When he was used to the sound, which is a low vibrating noise with tinging of bells and then a blast of high pitched horns, we moved forward and managed to stand outside a building that had lots of monks sitting on the floor . They were the ones making the noise. It was quite strange and not like anything that we had heard before.
Before we wilted in the heat, we decided to go and find Arjun and to carry on.

We had booked into a simple airbnb and arrived full of hope. The previous accommodation had been beautiful and this place had good reviews.

I would like to meet the people who wrote the reviews as they obviously have a difference of opinion of what is considered to be comfortable and clean.

To cut a very long story short by the evening we were booked into a posh hotel that had clean sheets, toilet roll and towels. The airbnb seemed to only have one towel and it was wrapped around a naked man's waist !

The next day, we set off early from the posh hotel armed with spare clothes, to go to visit the elephant rescue centre. We went in a jeep, crossed a river in a small boat and then were taken to an open sided restaurant overlooking the river.

After a lovely breakfast, our guide took us to the elephants. We had paid for a private tour and so had a private area to wash the elephants in the river. It was wonderful. It meant we had to go barefoot in the squishy part of the river (probably pooh underfoot) and throw water on the elephants and scrub the mud off them. They were so happy and relaxed, it was amazing.

The guide explained that the elephants are mainly male and were considered rogue elephants, often in trouble for killing people in the wild. The elephants are taken and put in a stockade, made of tree trunks for a year with its own personal mahout (a local tribesman trained in elephant handling). The mahout never leaves the elephant and gradually teaches it the commands so it will cooperate. If they don't do this then the elephant would be destroyed.

There were 27 elephants there and they can cater for more if need be. They are on display but only a few at a time for 3 hours and then the elephants go off into the forest to feed and roam around by themselves. Later ( about 4 ) they are brought back for another bath and a bit of display.  The elephants do have chains on one ankle but this is for control in the camp, but they are treated with respect and obviously are very important to all the staff at the camp.

We also got the chance to feed the elephants, to be blessed by one using his trunk and have a photo taken with them.

Had we realised that we were so close to camp the day before when we had our airbnb mishap, we would have booked in here because there are small lodges overlooking the river. They are furnished simply but very clean ( and they had towels!) The guide let us look around one.

We then went a a guided tour through the forest to learn about the plants, trees and animals of the forest. I wasn't keen on the - don't go off the path and stand on the dry leaves as that is where the vipers hide and its quite a way to the hospital -warning . The man was so interesting and knowledgable but again we found ourselves walking in the midday heat and we were flagging.

After a very good Indian meal, we crossed the river in the little boat and were back in the jeep. Andrew and the boys thought it would be good to stand up at the back and hold onto the bars as the chap went as fast as he could along the bumpy road. they made it back alive and intact, thank goodness .

Now all we faced was the six hour trip back to Bangalore !

Wednesday 4 April 2018


Elephants and crocodiles

We were off quite early on day two of our trip. The scenery started to change from dusty brown  vegetation with some palm trees to the most beautiful range of greens. We were surrounded by rice fields, lots of palm tree plantations and lots of trees that we didn't know. The green colours were startling and vibrant.

On the way we stopped for some fresh coconut from a road side seller. Earlier, we (Arjun) had struggled to find a gap wide enough to overtake a truck with what looked like a hay stack balanced on the top of it. It was as tall as it was wide. As we were enjoying the coconut at the side of the road, the flipping truck went past, bits of hay flying in the wind! It meant we had to repeat the overtaking process again, much to the amusement of the boys.

We managed to get by and the game of 'chicken' continued for quite some way as Arjun negotiated the roads and the oncoming traffic. Basically, if you don't look out of the front of the car your nerves remain more intact.

After about two hours, we went off the main road and onto a bumpy track. In the distance, we could see a tranquil lake set amongst some low hills. At the end of the track was the most beautiful hotel. We piled out of the car to be greeted by bird song and trickling water. It was so hot, just like the butterfly house at Natureland.

Our rooms were enormous and facing the swimming pool and the lake. The bathroom was huge with a large double bath. As I looked longingly at it, imagining a relaxing soak listening to the Archer's,  Andrew read my mind and reminded me about the lack of water everywhere, so that scuppered that plan! The boys were pleased as they now believed that they didn't have to wash for a while! We quickly pointed out the shower to them.

We had arrived just in time for quick swim before we had lunch. Mainly Indian food, which was really lovely and a tureen of pasta for those who can't manage a curry!

There was a river safari trip at 3 pm so we decided to book it. A little boat, with comfortable seats, set off from the hotel to go two minutes up the lake. We then transferred to a safari boat with a small motor board on. As we got on the boat wobbled and we were all given a life jacket, not a good sign or so we thought.

How wrong we were! We chugged along the lake , being splashed by the water coming over the edge of the boat and by the fishes attempting to jump on board. Then, in the distance the guide, who was with us, and the boat driver, spotted our first wild elephant. It was so exciting! He was huge and was scraping the ground with his foot to disturb the soil for food.

We carried on up the lake and saw at least 40 elephants in various herds or on their own. Many were just at the water's edge. We even saw a baby no more that a month old being protected between the females legs.

Then the driver got excited as he spotted a crocodile. It was difficult to see but by the third crocodile there was no problem. It was enormous, at least 3 metres, resting on the bank with its mouth open. We got really close before it slipped into the water and disappeared somewhere under the boat!

The Big Croc watching us!

There were many different types of birds including an osprey, but I was too busy looking for the elephants and crocodiles so if you're interested in birds, I'm sorry as I've forgotten what they were!

After 3 hours we returned , desperate for a drink and a biscuit. The staff in the hotel were waiting patiently for us all ( about 10) with tea, coffee and juices.

The evening meal was just as good as lunch but all the fresh air and excitement meant that we were exhausted and we needed to go to bed early as we needed to be up at 5am to get the jeep safari.

Which was just as thrilling ! Three hours of being driven around a forest in a very bumpy, open sided jeep was like being on a fairground ride. The guide would suddenly cut the engine, we would all sit in silence and stare at the vegetation, looking for tigers. Then he would start it quickly and shoot off again. We saw lots of monkeys, wild dogs, birds (peacocks and other things!) mongoose, but no tigers. We managed to stop and visit the loo, which was an experience, and then set off to go back to the hotel.

But as we were going along the 'main road' through the jungle, a male tiger just casually strolled across in front of us. There were about 6 jeeps in total and the drivers just slammed the vehicles to a halt down the grass verges so people could watch.

The tiger was so confident and calm and not bothered in the least by the commotion behind it . It then disappeared in the scrub only to emerge a short distance away where he sat down and looked around. After a short while, he slowly got up and padded away into the forest.

The journey back meant that everyone had smiles on their faces and a calmness that even the racing track driving couldn't remove.

Tuesday 3 April 2018



We went on a rather long four hour journey in the car to Mysore. Milo did not feel too good and looked dreadfully pale all the way so it was quite a traumatic time for him. Bless him, he tried to be cheerful and was so brave.  Arjun was driving us so we were not concerned with the Wacky Races attempts at driving going on around us as Arjun is as cool as a cucumber .
We arrived and checked into Sandesh, The Prince Hotel which was nice and airy. The boys were chuffed as they had an adjoining room to ours and Milo was pleased that he had his own "office".

After a quick home-made sandwich, we set off for the magnificent Mysore Palace. Arjun has been many times and so knew what we needed to see. He duly dropped us off and found a guide for us.
All footwear had to be removed and placed in bags at a shoe deposit. It was strange walking around a historic building without any socks or shoes on but everyone was the same. Cobbles feel funny in bare feet!

The Palace is very ornate and painted in beautiful blues and gold. The guide explained the history and it was very interesting.

After about half an hour, Milo began to go pale again and so we decided that I would take him back to the hotel. It was very hot and there was no breeze at the Palace and he was struggling but still he did not complain. Although, he was relieved when we got back to the air conditioned room and his office.
The others carried on to look at the temple and decided to go and greet the resident elephants that help in the special parade in October.

The elephants were happily munching on their grass or whatever they eat ,when our party decided that they would like to have a sit on an elephant, let the elephant stand up and then sit down with them on it. I think by the look on their faces it was not such a smooth ascent and descent as expected.

Later, they went to the local market that is very colourful and full of every kind of fruit, vegetable and spice. Apparently, it was difficult to drag Christine away from the fruit stalls as she tried to buy as many different varieties as she could.

Next they all trooped up to a temple on a hill that had lots of monkeys and the usual wandering cows. One monkey had a rather round tummy and they kindly named him Buddha. He was obviously too well fed . Unfortunately, it was bit too misty for them to appreciate the view from that position.

The evening meal was spent in a quirky pub under the hotel that had huge barrel that you walked into for the entrance. Then inside the pub , there were real cars that had been adapted so you could eat at a table inside of them. There was a big dance floor in the middle of the room and up to date music so the boys were entertained ( Milo had recovered ) and kept amused for quite some time. The food was good too.

After a good night's sleep, we had our photo taken with doorman in all his red and gold finery and we set off on the second part of our road trip.

Update ! April 2024

  20 people sharing 2 menus! When we go to a restaurant, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep a straight face so that we do not ups...