When a Writer's Retreat turned into an Ideal Vacation!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Although born in a family where people are not much interested in visiting several places, the travel bug bit me at an early age. And I ended up experiencing and embracing the things a new place has to offer me. The feeling that a new place I’ve visited gives me has always been inexplicable.

As I grew up, I made a bucket lists for all the places I ever wanted to visit, including the plans for the itineraries. However, my perfect vacation has been the one I have taken by myself, without any family, but just the company of a fellow writer/friend.

So, it all started with the plan of few writers planning a trip to Leh Ladakh. However, the plan was dropped as people lost interest, one after the other. Some time later, I just pinged one of the writers asking her if we could go somewhere as I needed a writers’ retreat so bad. She immediately agreed. So, after a brainstorming session for a couple of days, we fixated upon Munnar.

Within a month, we found ourselves discussing the whole 4-day trip to Munnar, with me spending an extra 3 days at Chennai before returning to my residence back in Visakhapatnam. The first step was to get myself to chennai; so I searched for the Flight Schedule, and got my tickets back and fro through Indigo Airlines. And about a week after booking our hotel rooms and setting up the travel necessities, I found myself on the way to Chennai, alone. Travelling to a new state, to an unknown city has been quite exciting, and I remember not being able to sleep that night.

As I reached Chennai, the writer friend of mine picked me up at the airport and took me to her place. And after a last minute shopping and a quick dinner, we boarded the bus to Munnar around 10:30 PM in the night.

After a night long journey, the dawn broke upon us, and we woke up to the hilly terrain of the beautiful Nilgiris. Slowly, we began to identify the tea plantations along the hills, which indicated the approaching destination. By 9:30 AM in the morning, we managed to reach the Munnar town where our driver received us and dropped us off at the Igloo Nature Resorts. God! What a view it was!

After freshening up in a cosy hotel room, we made our way to the restaurant in the hotel and savoured a delicious brunch. Then the real adventure began. We went to the beautiful Spice Theme Adventure Park, where I tried bungee trampoline, rope-climbing, rope-walking over water, and other adventures I was never courageous enough to attempt before. After a good four hours at the park, we went to a spice farm and picked up tea, coffee and other spices to take it back home. By the time we reached the hotel, we were super tired, but it was all worth it.
The second day, we visited the Matupetty Dam and the Flower Garden. We retreated to our hotel soon, because we didn’t want to forget one of the main purposes for having the vacation, writing. So, after an early continental dinner at a neighbouring restaurant, we began to type away the chapters of our novels where our excitement oozed out as words.

The next morning’s plan has barely let us catch some sleep as we were too eager to visit the Athirapilly falls. We woke up even before the dusk broke and got ready for a journey that could last for a couple of hours. Driving across the beautiful Ghat Roads and crossing a few roadside waterfalls (Yes, roadside waterfalls!), we reached Athirapilly falls, where the fun was all about trekking, getting drenched under the torrent of gushing waterfalls, and feeling it all with the heart. We didn’t do anything for the rest of the day as the night has already set by the time we reached back Munnar.

Before we even realised, the last day of our tour has arrived. There were few political taking place in the town but fortunately, our driver/guide has already informed about it. So, we already packed our bags and got out of the town by 7AM, and reached Eravikulam National Park to see those unique mountain goats at one of the highest altitudes of the Nilgiris. We also had a traditional Kerala lunch, had loads of black coffee and planning as to how to while away the time until the bus picks us up. So, we went to the Lokkam falls and did a last minute trek all the way up to the third tier. The log house on the middle tier caught my attention and I made a mental note that I should visit here some day again, and stay right at that place, where I can hear nothing but the music made by the rhythmic falls. We then trekked down, took one last shower under the falls, dried ourselves up and waited for the bus back to Chennai.

As we boarded the bus, we reminisced about every single moment of us two girls being on a trip, the fun we had, and the pride we had on our faces when people surprisingly asked us if we were just two girls vacationing without a male companion. And when I got on the plane back home, I knew I made a friend who was more like a sister than just a travel companion or a fellow-writer, found a new me that I enjoyed dwelling in, and last but not the least, a place that I ended up loving, because of all the memories it gave me for the lifetime.

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