Friday, 24 October 2014

The Big Foot Review I - Coorg O Farm Homestay

A view of one of the cottages at the homestay
Some places are meant to bring out the explorer in you. Some places are meant to bring out the leisurely creature in you. And Coorg O Farm Homestay belonged to the latter category. Far far away from the humdrum of metro living, nestled amidst a coffee plantation in Coorg, this homestay is for those who want to catch up with their reading, writing, eating, walking, smelling the incessant rain and other small pleasures of life. 

Room: 4/5

Interiors of a room 
Basic, clean, neat.

With TV, large double bed, dressing mirror, attached bathroom, torch, and mosquito coil.

Food: 3/5

The homestay's dining quarters

Basic, hygienic, well-cooked.

Tomato soup, coffee and tea, and dosa are great.

Ambience: 3.5/5

A view from the porch at the room
Coffee plantation, small agricultural land.

Great for sipping on coffee and reading your favourite novel at your room’s porch.

Location: 1/5

Two attached cottages with a common porch
Not very conveniently located; most tourist places and trekking areas are far away.

If you are looking for absolute cut-off from the rest of the world, this place can be your silent haven.

Value for money: 3.5/5

A view of the plantation from the homestay's dining quarters
A room costs Rs.2,500 for a couple, and about Rs.1,700 for a solo traveller, and includes breakfast and unlimited coffee and tea. The room is very well-kept, with a good TV connection, and the bathroom has 24X7 hot water. Moreover, the porch makes for your own tranquil space at your room, with a view of the coffee plantation and the agricultural land. So, it is reasonably priced. 
A vegetarian meal costs Rs. 250, and a non-vegetarian one Rs. 300. While the food is basic at its best and well-cooked, it is a tad over-priced as the “meal” doesn’t really feel complete. Also, there is no ingenuity in the cooking; all that fresh produce from the plantation (guava and jackfruit grow in abundance at this place) is going to waste. The cooking need not be extravagant, but it can easily be special: using that produce and making some local delicacy would be a good start.

Overall rating: 3/5

The homestay is decent, with a very amicable host, Deepak, and his cooks and helping boys follow suit. It is only because of the average food and inconvenient location that I have given this homestay 3 out of 5 points. Otherwise, if the food were better, it can easily score a 4.


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Big Foot Solitude - II

The experience of going solo is sometimes mightier and more important than the destination itself. It does not even matter if you got around to doing everything on your bucket list while at the destination; the fact that you managed a solo trip in itself can feel like a huge achievement. The top most benefit of a solo holiday is finding out that you can do it! You will find that you are stronger and more capable than you think. 

It’s what one of my freelance writers (I work as a sub-editor for an English daily) wrote in an article about the joys of solo travel.

It has struck a chord with me. I might not have made an epic journey. I might not have made a holiday worth being carried in travel magazines. I might not have made an adventurous trip. Just because I went solo, it didn’t make it a grand escapade.

But I learnt a lot from this trip. Things that I probably knew deep down, but never really considered. Things that I probably never expected to learn. Things that I probably snubbed as pish-posh, previously…

I am not afraid of being alone
Well, I have always been someone who loves solitude, as you may have gathered from my Big Foot Solitude post. But spending three nights and four days in an unfamiliar place, all alone, called for a whole new set of solitude dynamics. It meant I had to be on guard all the time. It meant I had to find something to do when I wasn’t exploring the place. It meant I was solely responsible for the schedule and planning of the trip. It meant that I was mostly in control of the outcome of the trip.

I am not afraid of the dark
Well, I knew I was never scared to walk around in the dark even when no one was home. But I never knew I wasn’t scared being alone in a room at a homestay in Coorg, even when the power was gone! I never knew I would just switch on a torch and continue reading a novel in the dead of night, when power was gone, and I could hear insects chirping away to glory amidst a coffee plantation.

I gel well with the opposite sex
Well, I have never had many guy friends and I had no clue I could actually be comfortable talking to guys while on a solo trip! It was as I sat in my short shorts and drank a couple of Breezers with the homestay host, Deepak, discussing the Game Of Thrones series, that I realised I can be friendly and unawkwardly with male acquaintances, too. I, who hides in my room when relatives come home.

I cannot afford too many solo trips
Well, following your passion means, more often than not, you don’t get to make much money. Being a writer and editor, even if it is at a leading English daily, is no way to fund your solo trips, especially when you are a compulsive money-saving freak. The room tariffs that are usually aimed at couples or groups are not very solo-travel friendly, and even when you strike a bargain, it’s not budget-friendly. And you’ve just got to eat like a pauper for fear of having no one to share your food with, and spending a bomb on it anyway!