Sunday, December 31, 2006

Trip to Jungle Hut

We drove down to Jungle Hut on Christmas morning. Well, I should say our driver drove us down (not ready to take on the traffic ourselves just yet) and Ingo (very brave) followed us with Kim, Thorsten and Guido as his backseat drivers. The traffic was a nightmare and rather stressful. It took us 6 hours to travel 250km. Go figure! But, I guess that's not unusual for India.
Jungle hut is located in the Nilgiri foothills (Tamilnadu, India), surrounded by hills and trees, at the edge of a game sanctuary of Bandipur and Madumalai famous for its elephants and tigers.

It was a welcome break from the crazy city life. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery with a walk to the waterfall, late afternoon and early morning game drives and even a walk through the jungle (pretty scary, knowing that there are supposedly tigers in the jungle and our guide didn't even have a rifle). We were hoping to spot a tiger on our trip but unfortunately weren't that lucky or should I say lucky as I wouldn't have liked to come a cross one on foot.

We went for a late afternoon game walk. We saw an elephant through the dens bush and quietly positioned ourselves down wind. Guido and I had another exciting moment when a big hare jumped out of the bushes right next to us....I was just glad it wasn't anything bigger or with big teeth. It was all in all a great experience. A little nerve racking for me and I would only do it again with a more experienced guide or two with a gun. In the evenings we played a great German Card game, which I seemed to suck at. Marc enjoyed reading an interesting on tigers which made him more determined than ever to see them in the wild before we leave India.

Stopped to say goodbye...Nagraj (our driver) leaving his family behind for 3 nights.
Marc in front of the Mysore Palace or the Maharajah's Palace

This should give you an idea of the road we drove on. The road was full of "potholes" and in some places half the road was missing. Not that it stopped them from driving like a bat out of hell, overtaking on blind rises, cutting corners with one hand on the hooter of course!!
The beautiful tranquil surroundings at The Jungle Hut was a good cure for the stressed caused by the bad roads and crazy traffic.

Kim, Thorsten and Guido braving the cold water.
Marc and I lazing around on the porch, appreciating the view and fresh air.
We went for a 3km walk to a waterfall where we sat on the rocks, soaking up the sun while just enjoying the peace and quiet.
Stepping out of the room after a little afternoon nap.
Marc reading his book on our porch while the sheep roam around making a racket...especially early in the morning when you are trying to sleep. And if it's not the sheep the squirrels on the roof make sure you are awake. I would choose the animals over an alarm clock any day though...
Squashed in, ready for our afternoon game drive. Didn't see much though....spotted deer, Shamba deer, a Bison, peacocks and other bird life.
Stopped for a leg stretch and to admire the scenery.
We couldn't believe our eyes. People walking through the reserve in their bright coloured sarees with their handbags over their it's a walk in the park. Our guide told us that a guy was trampled by an elephant 4 days before. He even had a photograph on his mobile to prove it. Apparently it happens regularly in the area.
If they can do it on the busses, then why not hang from the vehicles driving through the reserve too.
Up at sparrows for our 5H30 "cold" drive...Brrrrrrr, it was freezing. Of course none of us packed warm clothes and we had to wrap ourselves in blankets to try and stay warm.

Guido and I still half asleep.
Marc chilled to the bone.
Stopped at a small temple in the middle of the bush to enjoy the sun's rays burning through the mist.
A Hindu temple on top of the hill where our game walk ended.
The amazing view from the top of the hill.

A German Christmas Eve in Bangalore

We were invited to spend Christmas Eve with our German friends Kim and Ingo and their German visitors, Guido and Thorsten.

Kim and Thorsten admiring the beautifully decorated dinner table.
Kim and Guido went all out with the decor and making sure there was a great ambiance for our Christmas dinner.

Guido, checking on our dinner.

At the dinner table after our delicious roast lamb, potatoes and green beans. And for desert, Kim made a tiramisu and I decided to make an Indian carrot desert (Gajar Ka Halwa).

Kim and I on a sugar high after the yummy desert.
Gathering around the table where we exchanged small Christmas gifts.

Ingo, about to eat one of his gifts! Guido in the back trying on one of the Indian Christmas star decorations.....they probably better hats anyway!!!
Marc taking a puff of the water pipe

and me, enjoying a glass of red wine on the beautifully candle lit balcony in the great Bangalore night air.

Just another day in Bangalore

Christmas Spirit in Bangalore: This seen reminded me of the William Nichol, with street vendors selling all sorts of goodies incl. Christmas hats. The sopping malls and individual shops were decorated with Fake Christmas trees and fake snow, Farther Christmas handing out pamphlets, posing for a photograph, Christmas Carols, galore!!!
Our local, hole in the wall liquor store where Marc stocked up on beer and wine for the Festive Season and our trip away.
The Big Market...If you can believe it, this is a supermarket where we can buy just about anything!

Guido and Kim enjoying a swim at our club house.

The Leela Palace where the OWC members meet for coffee on Thursday mornings.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Tuesday - Birthday Dinner at Sunny's

Being the sociable person that I am, it was really great to have friends around to celebrate my birthday with. We thought we'd try out the very popular, much talked about restaurant - SUNNY'S (located on Embassy Diamante, 34, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore ph:41329366/391). A Euro restaurant that specializes in Italian food. The atmosphere is very chic but, casual - and the food was outstanding! We all agreed that the restaurants deserves to have such a good reputation. I would definitely recommend it!

From the left: Andy, Diana (USA), Ingo, Kim (Germany), Myself and Marc (the best birthday present a girl could ask for). We had Indian Red wine (Grover Cabernet-Shiraz) I'm definitely not a wine connoisseur but it is a really nice wine and it's great that we don't have to pay a lot for imported wines because the local one in my opinion, is as good as any.
Good food, good wine and more importantly the company of new friends.

Marc and Kim in black shirts and jeans. The rest of us didn't get the memo...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sights and Scenes

I noticed this mini van in the traffic, thinking "strange looking ambulance with a gold roof rack". I realised it was a herse when I saw the "LAST JOURNEY" gold plaque on the back. Nagraj (driver) told me that it's used for Christian funerals. I'm not sure if the body goes in a coffin or if it's placed on top of the stainless steel table. Go figure!!

Public Telephone...notice the hi-tech security device.

Cow turning right in the traffic.

A Wedding Ceremony - police regulating traffic in front of the temple.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

On the Social Scene

After weeks of house hunting, furniture shopping, enrolling for my course starting on the 17th of January (1 Year Professional International Diploma Programme in Visual Communications) at NICC which I'm very excited about etc. etc.

We finally had the opportunity to check out the social scene in Bangalore. We registered with the Bangalore Expat Club and attended our first event last week Saturday. It was a "Dream a Dream" event, which sadly didn't have a huge turn out. Never the less, we met a few people which was the real reason for attending the event, I guess.

I'm sorry I didn't do this sooner...but on Thursday I decided to check out and join the OWC (Overseas Woman’s Club). The OWC is a large organisation with about 600 members from across the globe. It is a very well organised club with a monthly news letter "The Rangoli" a very handy book "In and Out of Bangalore" where you can find all the information that you could possibly need. The ladies meet for coffee on Thursday mornings at the Library Bar, Leela Palace. There were probably about 100 ladies, babbling over coffee...Imagine that! The OWC has many other activities such as Road trips, Christmas lunches, Sundowners, Afternoons at the Races...etc.

I met a lovely German girl, Kim (born in SA) at the OWC that suggested we come along. We had lunch, drinks and high tea while we bet (minimal Rs50 to Rs100 +- $1-$2 per race) on and cheered for our favorite horse to come in first. It was a lot of fun and we'll definitely do it again.

The horses are paraded around so that you could make your pick.

We had a great view from the top.

Kim and I enjoying a glass of wine while watching the action.

Kim and her "husband to be", Ingo. The German couple are planning to get married in SA, Kwazulu Natal next year October!