The only camping experience I had till date was through Hollywood. I felt it was time I crawled out of my comfort zone and wrote my own story. With that in mind, I booked Phunsukh Wangdu Isolated camping with GBL.
The Innovative campsite: It took us approximately two-hours to reach the Campsite from Bangalore. Ours was a small group of 5 girls and 2 trek leaders. We reached at around 4PM. Once inside the farm, we were greeted by the host along with some dogs and puppies. The host graciously offered us tea and then took us for a tour of his property(farm). He showed us different set-ups in the farm like Waterfall massage, mud pit, fish spa, a tree house, swimming pool, reservoir, water-based camping site (in the making). These were not built using regular materials, but everything here was designed with naturally available resources, recyclable materials and in sync with nature. Also spotted logs of various heights, top of which was covered with grass sheet, kept at different places in farm for sitting. This blend of making use of natural resources plus keeping the modern-day comfort in mind shows the thought process and the effort that would havegone into setting this place.
There was a round shaped mini golf course too. All of us instantly turned into golfer and tried to beat each other in the game by taking minimum strokes to hole the ball. After the Golf tournament, we moved further into the farm to explore and sighted a swing hanging over a large reservoir of water. Without a second thought, I opted to go first. It was and enthralling experience with water touching your feet, clear sky above your head and acres of beautiful farm to feast your eyes on. I pushed the swing higher and higher until I saw Piyush rowing a large plank of wood trying to balance himself on it till he fell in the reservoir. Everyone burst out laughing but he calmly started swimming and it looked like that he fell on purpose.
Sunset trek: As it was almost time for sunset, we began our trek to a nearby hill. We could catch only a glimpse of the setting sun, but the view was worth it. Jolly taught Haritha some nuisances of bouldering and it was interesting to watch them climb using various techniques without the help of any gear or chalk powder. Once back at farm, the trek leaders prepared Maggi for all of us and the host prepared a tangy mix out of pulp of Laskhman fruit. It had a different but great taste. Once our belly was full, it was time to visit the camping site and set up tents for night stay.
It was a very nice campground, conveniently located right across from the Lake. The site had two square grass sheets spread and a bon fire kiln ready. The leaders taught us how to pitch a tent. With a little struggle and help, we pitched our own tents. It felt like an achievement. Soon it started to get colder and we got our jackets and sweaters and caps out. After resting a bit on the grass sheet and trying to locate some stars in the sky, we were headed towards the lake. The lake looked stunning under the dark night sky with bright half-moon shining. We spent quite some time by the lake with few of us clicking snaps and attempting night photography. I lied down on the dry lake bed facing the sky, concentrating, connecting with the nature and trying to become one with it. But it was difficult given all the chatter around me and then I heard the leader called out to us for it was time to go back to the camp site.
After much awaited anticipation, it was time for bonfire. I was crazily looking forward to it. And it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. As they say, the first is always special. The leaders did a fantastic job of entertaining and making us feel comfortable. The host’s men came and set up the bon fire. Later, Piyush took over and did a great job of keeping the fire going on for nearly 3 hours. The warmth from the fire made the chill bearable. It felt pleasant with the cold breeze and the warmth from bonfire. Even after protests from few girls, we let one of the girls narrate a horror story. Though I am usually not scared of ghostly stuffs, her story gave me goosebumps. The story was so good that it chilled our bones more than the cold. To lighten the mood, we shared light banter with each other. Then Jolly shared few ghost stories from his collections and they were equally scary especially the one where a severed head was tapped on to the roof of a house. To lighten the mood, Jolly entertained us with his great singing while playing ukulele. None of us wanted to sleep yet so we decided to play some games of which “one up, two down” really stood out for me.
The tent experience: At around 1 AM, we called it a night and retired to our respective tents. Once inside the tent, I started rummaging my bag to find more layers of clothes to cover myself with. I draped myself well and slept in the provided sleeping bag. I am not sure if I would be alive next day if it was not for the sleeping bags. The night grew colder around us. I was in and out of my sleep for the rest of the night.
Sunrise trek: Finally, we woke up at around 6. I stepped out of the tent and looked far and beyond trying to soak up the natural beauty. Slowly, everyone was out of their tent. We shared our experiences of staying the night in the tent while getting ready for the Sunrise trek. The start of the trek was great with us listening to songs and pulling each other’s leg. But soon we started getting tired. We took small breaks in between and clicked few snaps to keep the tempo high. At one point, I almost gave up but the GBL leaders would never let you rest in peace. I was uttering “I hate GBL” for the rest of my journey to the top. Once at the top and after some refreshments, the energy was back, and we spent some quality and fun time there.
Thorny path: The journey back to the farm was painful not so much in terms of distance or the sun shining above our head but because of the little thorns on the path. Every now or then, one of us would stop to remove thorns from their shirts, pants, shoes or socks.
Once, back at campsite, we first went to the campsite to disassemble the tent and pack our stuffs, collected our bags and with heavy heart left the place. All were famished after almost 2.5 hours trek and we gorged on the delicious breakfast provided by the host. Soon after, it was time to bid adieu to one of the most amazing places I have been in recent times. The return journey to Bangalore was silent with most of us being tired and catching up on sleep. Finally, we said goodbye to each other with hopes that our paths will cross again..
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