The one with all the camping

Bucket lists, that pretty piece of paper filled to the brim with things we want to do, places we want to see, fears we want to conquer…most of them end up resembling a pinterest board full of pretty things and then there’s that ominous deadline of to do before I die which kinda really lessens the chances of us ever doing any of those things, what with most of us vying to be a better procrastinator than the other…BUTT if you have mad urges and a restless spirit and if your throw in some crazier than thou friends into the mix then CHEEEHOOO!!! You cupcake are gonna be ticking things off that list faster than your chubby hands can touch the base of that big tub of gooey caramelized popcorn!! And that is eggactly how we ended up going CAMPINNNGGGGGGG!!!(Hopefully your heads are still reverberating from the screechy echo that made).

Now y’all gonna be like, “Oh gawd, she’s gonna bore us with more gibber gabber about her trip and tell us how to set up a campfire without roasting off that perfect perm and how to not get entangled in your own tent and not to follow the poop trails with little grizzly bear bells in them”. BUTTT WEIGHT, I’m not gonna do that folks. Instead I’m going to bore you with swoon-worthy accounts of my camping trip which was completely poison ivy and bear attack free.

After a week of mid terms which were seriously messing with our long periods of doing nothingness, that brochure from Campper** was a godsend, it was just the kind of break we were looking for, a camping trip to Mankulam (near Munnar, Idukki), by the waterfalls overlooking never ending hills with bonfires and tents , all those goody goody treats my childhood backyard camping trips with moms shawls (masquerading as my tent) didn’t have.

We set off at about my post breakfast siesta time so we could make it in time for thecomplimentary lunch(raising eyebrows in that cool way).  The drive was along narrow roads, the hillsides lush and glistening under the sun, baby monkeys playing peekaboo and miles and miles of unending tea estates. Three hours and winding roads,  Ashik in the driver’s seat and the horrendous no siesta situation got to me though and I was a woozy nauseous mess by the time we got there but as soon as they opened their gates I was pretty gung ho about camping again.

We got out of the slightly stuffy and air conditioned insides to the fresh, breezy and clear air of the mountains, a welcome relief for us city dwellers. We oohed and aahed at the view, entranced by the witcheries of the misty mountains, the beckoning breeze and the trees dancing to their music, bubbling little brooks sparkling blithely nearby, the adorable homely tents and wait….the sounds of a roaring waterfall!! Wowieee!! EXPECTATIONS??? EXCEEDED!! We had our qualms about camping after our last “incident” and we dared not expect anything more than a plain old vanilla flavored ice cream situation but these guys gave us an ice cream sundae with our pick of toppings and a smear of chocolate!!

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Ain’t the view pretty?? 

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The gorgeouus waterfalls at our campsite!!

While my heart was doing a triple flip they brought in the complimentary lunch (I should stop saying complimentary right?). The owner’s grandmamma had cooked us up an amazing traditional Kerala meal much to the great skippety doo daa of our hungry tummies. She even sent us a huge bunch of bananas from her backyard thinking either that it’d be a nice wholesome snack for weary travelers or she just spot on guessed that we’re a bunch of monkeys. While our insatiable hunger was being soothed with the wholesome food, plans were bing made for us by the sweet people at the campsite. They were all ready with a jeep and loads of towels and some more bananas, ready to whisk us off to Some “secret” spot nearby…After an an unforgettably bumpy ride in an indestructible jeep with an amazing driver on a road which was more uphill than your average Joe steepy ones( the jeep was basically making its way up a non-existent hillside path), we finally got to our very own private multi-million dollar Jacuzzi/ shower/hot tub/…..faainnee…we didn’t get there but what awaited us was a secluded waterfall with pristine clear water, cold enough to make your teeth chatter, deep into the woods cloaked by a deep silence only broken by the sounds of our revelry.

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How we got there: And we made several stopovers on the way, by rivers and hanging bridges and we even rode through a rivulet…

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My very own sauna….If this were mine forever I’d take more baths…

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Us water babies goofing around….

As much as I love places like Athirapally and the lot, I hate the tourists, the snack munching, giggling, loud, overly dressed up tourists. It sorta takes the joy out of going places. This, this was a different cup of tea by itself, covered by dense foliage, no prying eyes, the clean freshwater… We splashed about and frolicked to our hearts content till dusk and headed back to the base camp.

What awaited us was pure magic, as dusk turned to shadowy darkness and our tv-addicted eyes adjusted themselves, we were greeted by a bejeweled sky.

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Calvin sure got that right…They’re like little bits of magic strewn all across the never sky…We just sat there, stargazing, losing all sense of time, normalcy and reality seemed a figment of our imagination. I for one was all warmed up inside being surrounded by some of the best people in my life and open starry skies and entrancing music, it was way better than all the dreaming  of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings I’m prone to doing at all times to the annoyance of everyone I know.

Our reverie was broken by a shout out to go check out aanakulam, a sort of teen hangout spot for elephants. Driving through the same places we went by daylight was just super spooky at night, the friendly mountains now took us back to instances from The hills have eyes and that my dears is not something you want to recall when you’re out at that time   on stranded hill roads.

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When you’re pee-in-your-pants sacred think of funny puddy tats

We got to Anakulam though without any blood curdling incidents but it turned out to be a disappointing night ride coz there were no huge herd of elephants at the watering hole only a lone baby elephant who was pretty shy what with all the noise we were making and the glaring headlights of our jeep . But we were told that locals have  have seen a herd of 90 on certain moonlit nights, I guess we’re not the lucky kind. Sigh…But we got to take a nice snack break to quiet our rumbling tummies from the little tea shop nearby and we went back as a happy troop humming old tunes and thinking happy thoughts.

B y the time we got back we were ravenously hungry and gorged on the flavorsome and gravilicious chicken curry and fluffy rotis   meanwhile, the men were busy setting up the bonfire. Soon there was a blazing fire and we were drawn towards it, what followed was a night of mirth and frolic, with dancing and games of charades (which I lost miserably) . The embers turned a pretty shade of glowing reds and oranges, and there were tiny spurts and burps of flames trying to lick our little toes which were getting all warmed up…there’s something about fires which wakes up sleeping dragons and roaring phoenixes and unfulfilled dreams and they all march on with blazing spirits in your mind and these thoughts lingered on in my mind as the fire died out and I was back to bracing myself against the cuttingly cold winds which came in with their whoosh noises, rocking the dear pine trees and our little tents back and forth.

There were yawns and shivers and sleepy eyes from the most of us and we turned in for the night. We were lulled to sleep by Mommy nature herself, the misty moonlit night, the chilly breeze and the roaring waterfall humming it’s night song, the cicadas chirping away to glory…the best sleep I’ve gotten in ages I’d say.

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Our very own tent!! And yea… us smiling away goofily….

Sadly, there was no beautiful sunrise to wake up to, coz most of us sleepyheads never woke up in time for that and those who did missed out coz it was way too misty but we did squeeze in a morning walk before breakfast to the waterfalls and got a closer look at the valley with its rivulets and forests.

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Morning walks and loads of sunshine …

Soon the sun was up in all its fury, the heat getting a bit prickly while we were in a rush to pack up and head back to our humdrum lives in the city. The drive back was with a bunch of subdued reminescy  people in the car who only had Moti’s moms biriyani to look forward to but then again biriyani makes everything better…

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Coz happiness is biriyani!!Teehee!!

Camping out at Mankulam is something I’ll never forget, what with it being my first time and it certainly was an amazing one at that and I can’t wait enough for the next time out on my own in the wilderness, with haunted woods and unstable tents and  grizzly bears and no plumbing. What funnn!!! If anyone’s ready to brave the wild with us then just shout out and we’ll be there, bags, tents, grizzly food and all!

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A bunch of happy campers!! Up top-Moti, me, Shrey( she’s the blonde one), blobby Ashik, fatty Feli and sweet old Achal…my lovelies ❤

Before you go-go: For all you wild wanderers looking forward to camping, ring up camper or mail them. They’ll whip up an unforgettable camping experience for you and your chums and all you have to worry about is getting your lazy asses to the campsite!! Get those monster trucks out, or your cute rides or RENT a car but do go for you’re sure to have loads of fun!!

Check out the link if you’re up making some memories!!

https://www.campper.com/

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