Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Kayaking and prawn-stuffed-papad

At 7:25pm last Friday I was still typing away like crazy; trying to commit some last minute code changes.
7:30pm: eat curd rice
8:20pm: on the bus to Dandeli. I was literally jumping with excitement.

We got to Dandeli on Saturday morning. The Karnataka state government run Jungle Lodges and Resorts is an amazing chain - doesn't seem at all like a public sector undertaking. At around 11 am we were off to the river for kayaking lessons. The first drill was to get in the kayak, flip yourself over, and pull out of the kayak. The next drill was to do the same thing with a 'skirt' on. A skirt looks like a skirt, but the bottom of it water-seals the opening to the kayak so that water doesn't go in when you flip upside down. It also means that you have to pull the skirt off when you're upside down and underwater before you can get out of the kayak. A little scary at first.

Krishna, Vikas, Anand, and I did about 2 hours of paddling, capsizing, and attempting rolling, and then took off for lunch. After an amazing Rs. 17 lunch at a local joint, we decided to split up; Anand and Krishna headed back to do a safari and drink some beer; Vikas and I went back for another kayaking session.

Our guide, Kumar, took us paddling down the river to check out the rapids from afar and I was *sooo* pissed that I didn't know how to roll (capsize and then bring myself upright again) my kayak because doing the rapid looked really tempting. He said that I was paddling well enough that if I wanted to try it ("you just have to be able to paddle straight and hard, and have a strong heart. You're paddling okay, but...") - of COURSE I had to try it! I paddled like crazy and made it through the rapid without capsizing. Then, like an idiot, I turned to give him a hi-five with my paddle. At which point I capsized. Since we were out of the rapids, it wasn't a big deal.

Going through the rapid pretty much made the entire trip complete. We tried for another 20-30 minutes to learn the rolls and I never got the hang of it. But I had been longing kayak through white water for a long time so I came away satisfied. I'll be back to the Kali river soon for a few days of lessons.

Sunday morning was spent rafting. Although the rapids were quite tame in a raft, we had a bunch of fun. Our guide kept throwing us out of the raft, and we eventually started picking on people in other rafts as well. I went on a safari in the evening and didn't see a single thing. Oh. we did see a rooster and the eyes of some deer gleaming in our safari-guide's searchlight. I do highly recommend a Jungle Lodges vacation though - they really take care of you.

Monday morning we took a 6am, 4 hour taxi-ride from the hotel to Goa. After unloading at CSM on Baga, we went straight to the beach and ordered some beer and prawn-stuffed-papad. I was a little worried that the papad wouldn't taste as good as I remembered it but I was wrong. It was phenomenal. Twenty drinks, five prawn-stuffed-papads, three prawn-curry-rices, one goan spiced sausage, one pork vindaloo, six hippie-beads, three henna tatoos, three massages, three beach-chairs, and seven hours later, we were down approximately Rs. 1700. I love Goa.

We didn't party that night; though I woke up and 2am and walked into town to check out the action and found it all at 2-3 bars in Baga. Somehow, chilling, eating, drinking, sleeping are more than enough fun for me. On Tuesday morning, Krishna and I rented a scooter and drove around some of the quieter beaches north of Goa. They were very scenic but none had quite the variety of food that Baga did. We came back and hit the beach again and proceeded to gorge ourselves again.

At 7:30pm we finally said goodbye to Baga and caught a bus back home. They have this concept of an 'A/C sleeper Volvo luxury bus' which sounds amazing. The sleeper part is wierd. Instead of having rows of four seats with an aisle in the middle, you have double-decker beds such that you get about 8 people sleeping in the space where you could have seated 12 (each bed is about 3 rows long; you still have 2 beds, then an aisle, and then another two beds, and you have two levels of those). It's pretty damn wierd if you have to sleep next to someone because there's just about 48 inches of width to each bed. I had to get cushy with Krishna, and Anand got luck and got an entire double bed to himself. Anyways, I was back at work at 10am with a tan, a tattoo, and a bushy beard (I'm not in a hurry to get rid of any of them).

I'm definitely going back to Dandeli for a weekend of pure kayaking.

Update:Here're some pictures I uploaded - from Krishna's camera.

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