Tag Archives: travel

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What it takes to travel?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu 

Yes it is the most redundant quote you have heard, yet so real and powerful! We are always surrounded by opportunities and what comes with it are the obstacles. Have you realised, we concentrate more on the obstacles? Why is it so easy and convenient for us to immediately think of ways how a certain thing we desire so much is impossible to achieve. Just imagine if we used the same energy towards making that very thing achievable! Easier said than done, I struggle with dealing negativity and obstacles every day! But as the quote above says, a beautiful journey begins with that one single step! That one step you take could be the easiest thing for someone else and you might doubt yourself. It is natural. You have to understand that everyone has a different journey and they are surrounded by different situations and obstacles. I do get inspired by a lot of people. Especially a lot of women who struggle each day to do simple things. Get inspired by others, but do not compare your journey with theirs!

And so, I started the year with taking a step towards something I have been longing to do; TRAVELLING! Now you might think, this is such a cliché. Yes, it is! But isn’t it the most beautiful and liberating thing to do? It was not easy for me to just pack my bags and head out anywhere. Why?

My challenges for travelling:

  • Convincing my parents to let me travel with a friend
  • Getting leave from work
  • Managing finances
  • The inability to handle spontaneity
  • Always scared about security

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Convincing my parents to let me travel with a friend:

I decided to travel to Kerala (Trivandrum, Varkala, Kollam) with my best friend, Malavika for 3 nights & 4 days.  I made up my mind and decided I need to tell my dad about my decision. I very confidently expressed my desire and to my surprise, he did not say no! Infact he helped me with the planning. I thought to myself, “Seriously! It was that easy?” So what I thought was a challenge was nothing but my perception about things based on past events. You get where i’m getting at? Instead of just assuming that I will be refused, I just decided to go and ask confidently and it was as easy as that!

Getting leave from work:

As usual I was over-thinking this too. I had leaves in my kitty, all I had to do was to strategically use them! I planned my days around the weekend and festive time so that I could make use of the opportunity in the best way possible.

Managing finances:

Now this is the part which is a common barrier for all of us who want to travel. While it is one the toughest things to manage, I would have to say that formulating a strategic plan goes a long way. You can choose between a backpacking or a luxurious trip or plan day wise. Like one day you might want to feel pampered and spend bucks on luxury and one day you could spend humbly. It completely depends on you. While planning, decide the number of days and mode of transportation. For me the fight was between time spent on travelling vs. the money spent! Spending time on train travel felt more expensive considering I couldn’t be absent from work for a longer time and I chose to fly instead, even though it meant spending 3 times more the cost. I had made a clear expense sheet before leaving and informed about my friend as well, and I am happy to say that we finished our trip well within our expense sheet without compromising on anything! A little planning goes a long way!

The inability to handle spontaneity:

I am a control freak! I just cannot handle last minute surprises and need to be well-prepared. Before leaving for the trip, I had booked my resort and literally planned everything to the T. But when we arrived at Trivandrum, I got to know that our resort for the Kollam stay was not confirmed and I was devastated! But we thought on our toes and decided to go off to Varkala instead of going to Kollam for 2 nights. And boy, that was the best decision ever! Had my rooms were confirmed, I would have missed a chance to spend one whole day in Varkala, which was the highlight of my 4 days trip! So the thing I learnt the most with this trip was that it’s ok if things don’t go the way you plan, go with the flow! Although I would like to add that a little more research on the place would have been beneficial. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience!

Always scared about security:

Now this is one of the most important thing us girls have to worry about. My parents are also constantly worried if I am in a secure place or not! I was told that Kerala is a conservative place and we should be careful. Even though I was apprehensive about staying out late, we did not run off to our hotels right after sunset, but we headed back at around 10:30-11 in full consciousness (yes yes!) safely in cabs and even on a two wheeler in Varkala! We took a canoe ride in Kollam and to our surprise, we did not have to worry about anything. Usually I am  very skeptical to go alone on boats at places where I struggle with the local language. But for some strange reason I was at calm and went ahead with everything without any qualms. I just had to stop thinking anything negative and go with the flow!

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That’s about it! The whole purpose of writing this blog was to tell you my experience about how I decided to take a small trip with my best friend to clear out my head, to detox and to experience life with a new perspective. We all have certain reservations  about travelling; but as the quote in the beginning says, a journey of thousand miles, literally begins with the first step you take! I have planned  for another short trip in March and if everything goes well, a trip by the mid or end of the year.

I will be doing a blog on my Kerala trip where I will share the do’s and don’t(s), best places to visit and underrated spots of the state! Stay tuned.

Meanwhile do let me know about your insecurities and worries regarding travel, and let’s discuss on how we can overcome those challenges.

 

Love,

Sindhu

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I got an ‘OOTY’ call!

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

– William Butler Yeats

People have always been obsessed with travelling and there is quite a good reason for it. Visiting a new place, seeing different faces, experiencing divergent culture & language is not only exciting, but also a great learning experience. It is truly said that only with travelling you realise that you are a small part of this whole wide world and there is so much we don’t know. It’s a great way to stay humble. Sadly, in this time and age, travelling isn’t about ‘experiencing’ the experience anymore! It has all come down to constantly being pressured to take the best pictures to show off the so called ‘experience’. Don’t you all agree? I am guilty too! But I have realised that living in the moment, or better yet, getting lost in the moment gives me true happiness and satisfaction and that’s exactly what my vacation to the mountains this time was all about!

Now we always get asked, “Mountains or beaches”? Honestly, I can never answer that, cos I love them both equally! But this time I got a ‘Ooty’ call, and I packed my bags and ran away for a two night stand! (how could I not include the obvious puns!?)

Yes we always like to explore new places, but there are a few destinations that hold a special place in your heart. I am not saying this just because I am writing a blog about it, but Ooty truly is my favourite hill station. I remember my dad taking me to Ooty the first time as a kid and I have been in love with it ever since.

This trip to Ooty was quite special. Why? I had a solo travel kind of experience on this trip. This trip was organized by Sterling Resorts. Fern Hill was our abode for 2 nights and 3 days.

Sterling has re-branded themselves and has come up with an interesting concept of ‘experiential holiday’. Now what’s that? Well, I have been to Ooty a couple of times before, but my visit was always restricted to staying at the hotel/resort, taking beautiful hikes, visiting the lake and the rose garden. The typical touristy thing! Sterling Holidays has taken the task of changing this and their new motto is to ‘Holiday Differently’.

view from Fern Hill resort

view from Fern Hill resort

What do they offer?

I shall talk about the room, food and the hospitality in the next section and shall quickly tell you the experiences Sterling has to offer.

No matter whom you have come with, Sterling Resort has catered experiences for all of you! If you’re travelling with family and kids, their play area, activity room , party games will keep the entire family occupied. Travelling with your partner and friends and feeling little adventurous? Their outdoor activities like hammock walk, swing bridge, tarzan leap etc will keep your adrenaline levels high! And want to keep your endorphin levels high? Just head to their beautiful & therapeutic spa and relax yourself.

screenshot from the Sterling resort website

screenshot from the Sterling resort website

Now, once you experience all the awesomeness that the resort itself has to offer, they have curated some amazing activities outside the resort specially for their guests. And no they don’t just make you do the touristy things I mentioned before. Ooty has so much more to offer and they make sure to give you the full Ooty experience.

The activities that Sterling had curated for us was something I had genuinely never experienced before. Listing down our activity itenary, day wise.

DAY 1 –

We reached in the morning during breakfast. We were told that we will be heading to ‘Toda village’. Now I did not who Todas were until then. Todas are the local tribes and said to be the first occupants of the Nilgiri mountains. The are very few in number and embrace their culture. They wear beautiful hand-crafted shawls which has a unique embroidery. It was surprising to see that the women have hairstyle that looks like they used curling iron to curl their hair, but in actuality they use no heating tools or products but just hands to make the hairstyle and it takes hours to get the look! We were educated about their history, custom and culture. Their houses called ‘mund’ are made of bamboo canes. The entrance is just around 3 ft. tall and one needs to crawl into the house. It is designed so to protect themselves from the wild animals. The todas were extremely sweet and courteous. They offered us their traditional sweet (like rice pudding) made with buffalo milk. Buffalo milk is extremely sacred among Todas and they make delicacies using buffalo milk. You can read more about the Todas here. It was a an humbling and surreal experience. I highly recommend this to you guys. Travelling is all about knowing a different culture & one must definitely educate themselves about this.

Later in the evening, Sterling had a fantastic arrangement for us. They organised a bonfire for us and invited the Todas & Badagas (Another tribe from the Nilgiris) to share their folk music and dance with us. We had so much fun learning their dance moves and enjoying it with them. You can request Sterling to organize the same for you and they would happily provide you with this experience.

After the visit to Toda village and before the bonfire experience, we were also taken to the tea and chocolate factory where we saw how tea is made, the process, the benefit of each tea and also got to taste them! And of course, I bought tea and chocolates and it was the yummiest thing ever! It is a cliche I know, but how could I have come back without those?

Toda house

Toda house

The traditional Toda embroidery

The traditional Toda embroidery

gorgeous sunset

gorgeous sunset

DAY 2:

Yes, everyone has heard of the toy train and whoever goes to Ooty takes the train inevitably. But my family and I are extremely indisciplined and always miss it! Not this time! I finally sat on the much-coveted toy train. It takes you through the caves and tracks cut out between the mountains. Yes the train is slow giving you the chance to enjoy the beautiful landscape. We went to Connoor & were told we will be visiting a tea estate and have a picnic sort of a lunch! Now, this was my best experience and the highlight of the trip! The drive to the tea estate was not the usual ones. We had to reach the top point of the peak and the road was not smooth. But the more we progressed, the beautiful it got. We drove with the clouds. We spotted wild bison and the landscape, the view, it was just breathtaking. I cannot put it down in words to be honest. It was one of the things you need to experience. I just stood there alone, gazing at the mountains, the tea leaves, the clouds. One word – FERNWEH!

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The Sterling team was damn cute and they set up a sitting space for us with fruits, snacks and food! This goes down in the history as one of the best lunches of my life. It was truly the lunch with a view!

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We head back to our hotel, had tea, relaxed a bit and had their scrumptious dinner and that was the end of day 2 and we slept like babies to leave the next day!

extensive tea collection offered by Sterling

extensive tea collection offered by Sterling

The above mentioned experiences are available for every guests staying at Sterling. You can contact them and ask them to curate packages for you and trust me they will happily get you whatever you wish for.

Amenities, hospitality & food:

  • The rooms are huge and spacious. The interiors are just gorgeous and every room comes with a view! (See pic below) The bathrooms have huge mirrors with a shower cabin and rain shower. They have all the necessary amenities for you and you don’t have to carry anything with you! The room is well-equipped. They have a fully functional mini bar. The best part is they also have heaters for people like me who feel extremely cold.
the cozy and comfortable room

the cozy and comfortable room

  • Now let’s get to the best part. FOOD. We ate like pigs. I am not kidding! We just ate ate and ate! The food was hands down one of the best things about the resort. The buffet was not like those resort buffets where they over-charge you and give you mediocore food. They make sure everything is perfect and even listen to feedback with open ears. Their live roti counter was the cherry on the cake. What adds to their yummy food is the fresh organic produce from their garden. Everything tasted just too good and fresh, leaving us wanting for more. I think I gained 3 kgs after the trip! Their collection of teas and snacks satisfied my tea-loving soul to heights I cannot express. Full points to Sterling for their extensive menu and impeccable food.
Beyonce sized breakfast!

Beyonce sized breakfast!

tea. tea. and some more tea.

tea. tea. and some more tea.

  • The staff was extremely cordial and helpful. They were sweet, attentive and very hospitable. They treated us well and were quite courteous. We actually did not have any issues or problems and they provided us with everything that we wanted. Hospitality for me is a very important part of my vacation. If everything is good and the staff is rude, it is a big no-no for me and the staff at Sterling left no stone unturned in giving us the best of services.

Although we stayed at Fern Hill, Sterling Resorts have an another property called ELK HILL . We had a look at that property as well and it is gorgeous. Their rooms are bigger and they offer suites with breathtaking views. They had arranged a garden themed high-tea for us and it was the cutest thing ever! Themed parties are their star offerings and you must definitely check it out!

Garden themed high-tea at Elk Hill

Garden themed high-tea at Elk Hill

View from Elk Hill resort

View from Elk Hill resort

You can book your rooms at websites like makemytrip or booking.com or directly book with the resort if you are a member with them. They are very decently priced considering the things that they offer. Both the resorts are easily accessible from the city.

How to get to Ooty:

You could take a flight or train till Coimbatore and then take a bus or taxi, whatever you are comfortable with to Ooty. It will be a 2-3 hour drive.

You can also take a bus directly to if you’re from Tamilnadu or Bangalore. It is an overnight journey and from what I have heard, it is quite comfortable too.

RATING:

Amenities – 4/5

Food – 4.5/5

Service & hospitality – 4/5

Pricing – 4.5/5

Will I revist? – Yes.

You can have a look at their website to get more information on their properties and offerings HERE

In a nutshell, my stay at Sterling Fer Hill was a great experience. I have no complaints about anything. I look forward to visiting more properties and I highly recommend staying at Fern Hill if you are visiting Ooty. I assure you won’t be disappointed.

Love,

Sindhu