On my mind…

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is the virgin land of Bhutan – untouched…unpolluted…serene…still…it’s the land which draws me in like a lover’s touch and plays me like a well orchestrated opera.

 It’s a land where time truly comes to a stand still.

Image Credit: National Geographic

It’s a land where long walks down the unchartered terrain make you feel like an explorer on the brink of a discovery.

It’s a land which draws you back to the roots and brings about a balance.

It’s a land which conjures up  images of solitude, saffron clad monks who seek enlightenment, soft lilting chants, the colorful prayer flags which dot the Himalayan land and more. 

It’s a land where silence and peace thread through your core like long lost lovers.

Destination: Amari Hua Hin

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The beautiful suite that I stayed in

The beautiful suite that I stayed in

When I travel, I open my mind.

I am not just seeing, but hearing, feeling, sensing the place. But now, as a writer, I struggle to weave in a thousand details and feelings and moments into a single near-definitive portrait, which almost seems to stand outside of time.

As I bask in the beauty of the newly launched Amari Hua Hin, Thailand – I succumb to an inviting concept of warm smiles, dazzling blue waters, spectacular décor, and pristine sands infused with style and soul – for me, as I walked through the open doors of Amari Hua Hin, I realized that I wasn’t part of my everyday.

I was transported into a wonderland where jaw dropping style and opulence came together oh-so-beautifully whetting my appetite for more.

The newly launched hotel offers a fresh, crisp and contemporary interior. The design concept at Amari Hua Hin, whilst focused on style and comfort, also reflects the beachside setting of the property.

All guestrooms are stylishly appointed and come equipped with modern amenities such as a flat screen TV, minibar and broadband internet access. The hotel also offers guests an oversized 38 metre outdoor pool surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens, a vast sun deck, fitness centre, a luxurious Breeze Spa offering a modern twist on Asian inspired treatments, a jogging track, and a separate kids’ pool and club area.

The element of luxe is threaded through every corner of the resort. The stunning blue and white decor element is truly breathtaking. Every room is thoughtfully created to keep in the ‘wow’ factor going.

What’s on offer: The resort grounds are host to five restaurants catering for different guest tastes and cravings, each offering a selection of popular and healthy choices – Mosaic, Aqua the pool bar, the Lobby Bar Coral Lounge, the bistro Reef Deli and the Shoreline Café.

What I loved:

The famed Thai hospitality. The warm smiles and the graciousness is truly a delight to bask in.

The concept of street food which is on offer at the Pool bar. Every restaurant is a gastronomic journey – beckoning the senses to open and savor delicacies specially created by the chefs.

The contemporary architecture of the hotels models itself on the rhythm of the waves and stands amid the lush landscaping of tropical gardens.

A romantic getaway or a relaxed holiday, you can define your seaside holiday and experience your own perfect retreat at Amari Hua Hin.

Escape to me came in the form of sipping on a glass of cocktail at sunset and welcoming the arrival of nightfall, unveiling an endless sky of glittering stars, heightening the aura of romance and mystique.

From spending the afternoon lounging by the sea to experiencing culinary Thai delights, to swaying bare feet on the sands whilst the wind whistles its tune…this is a must explore destination.

Thoughtful service signatures at the resort have been designed to introduce guests to the world of Amari and the destination of Hua Hin. Through an “Amari Host”, based on property, and a specially designed destination web portal, “Destination Amari”, guests are encouraged to experience local culture, whether it is through visiting nearby attractions or by attending a festival or trying a local delicacy.

Amari’s latest resort is adjacent to Khao Takiab, a popular and scenic stretch of beach, only 10 minutes away from Hua Hin’s downtown area, and two and a half hour journey from Bangkok

Amari Hua Hin, 117/74 Takiab Road, Nongkae, Hua Hin, Thailand.

http://www.amari.com

A quick guide to the best of Coorg

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Incredible!

You can’t help but mutter the word after you drink in the beauty of the rolling misty mountains and the sprawling coffee estates. The nip of the cold wind, the tang of fresh air combined with the sensous aroma of coffee, the virgin terrain…Coorg for me has always been an intruiging mix of sophistication and simplicity.

Kissed by god’s own lips, the sprawling hill station holds the promise of being different in every aspect.

If you are looking for what I seek – a hideaway from the daily cacophony, this is your destination where you can actually feel the stress of the daily sinking into oblivion.

It’s a place where you simply don your walking shoes and chart your own trail.

It’s a destination which brings forth the Wordsworth in you. You cannot help but stand and stare at the gorgeous canvas that lays ahead of you. It’s a destination where you walk into a coffee plantation and strike a conversation with the owners and before you know it, you are sipping freshly roasted and brewed coffee and being welcomed into the folds of the family – the famed Coorgi hospitality is absolutely a must experience.

It’s a destination where nature abounds – jewel coloured butterflies are your walking partners, the chirp of the birds music to your ears and the stunning carpet of vibrant colored flowers as your trail guide…it’s where you shrug away the daily and let nature carress you like a lover’s soft touch.

If doing nothing is on your agenda, then this is your must go place. Lazing in the green grass as you watch the dew drop roll or simply packing a picnic lunch and reading a book or y watching the clouds play hide and seek with you …this is the promise that the rolling hill station holds.

The famed Homestays

The Homestays are a must in your agenda simply because of the personal touch they offer. Opt for heritage homestays like Gowri  Nivas, School Estate and Java Mane, wildlife lodges like Elephant Corridor and Kalmane, plantation retreats like Bamboo Loft, Alath Cad and Palace Estate, hilly escapes like Kabbe Holidays and Honey Valley or riverside getaways like Polaycad Bungalow, Silver Brook and Sand Banks.

The homestays are a visual treat – they hold the the promise of taking you back in time.

For the virgin traveller who likes to add adventure, the there’s no dearth of activities in Coorg.

Go trekking, rock climbing and windsurfing at Hyrige reservoir with Coorg Adventure Club. Try river crossing and rappelling near Keemalekad with Coorg Outdoors.Kayaking, canoeing and river crossing in the Kabbe river and camping around Kakkabe with Jungle Mount Adventure is on the agenda.  In the monsoons, go river rafting on the KKR River with Barapole Rafting and Southern River Adventures.

Discover the mighty waterfalls

Abbi Falls near Madikeri is easily the most popular where the roar of the mighty falls works its magic around you.  Mukkodlu near Kotebetta, Mallali near Somwarpet, Irpu near Srimangala and Chelavara Falls near Cheyandane are also easily accessible. But deep within the forests near Birunani lies the magnificent Sarathabbi, which only the most adventurous can reach. I would definitely recommend this being ‘one of my best!’

Head out on a coffee plantation tour
Despite being Karnataka’s tiniest district, Coorg is the largest coffee growing region in India. A guided plantation walk through a coffee estate while staying in a plantation bungalow is essential to trace the journey of the wonderful brew from berry to cup.

I recommend: Sit back and truly enjoy the life a colonial planter at Tata Coffee’s Plantation Trails bungalows like Thaneerhulla, Woshully, Yemmegoondi and even a tea estate stay in a land known for coffee!

The elephant camp

Take part in the amazing Elephant Interaction program at Dubare Elephant Training Camp. An early morning visit allows you the chance to give the wonderful creature a bath in the Cauvery and feed it gigantic balls of ragi and jaggery followed by a ride in the adjoining jungle. Learn about pachyderms at the old forest rest house that serves as an interpretation centre.

And whilst you are in Dubare, don’t miss the river ride. The guides out there, truly ensure that you get to dip in the icy cold water of Cauvery.

Trek to Thadiyendamol, Coorg’s tallest peak. After Mullaiyangiri in the Baba Budan Giri range, the second highest peak in Karnataka happens to be in Coorg. Accessible from Kakkabe, the mighty Thadiyendamol lures trekkers to experience the unparalleled beauty unfolding at the peak.

Popular trails include Thalathamane and Nishanimotte near Madikeri, Kotebetta near Madapur, Pushpagiri near Somwarpet and Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary near Irpu.

Source of the Cauvery, South India’s holiest river

My guide, Dorai Gowda had me enthralled whilst he spun the legend about the orgin of the river – according to legend, when the Goddess Cauvery took the form of a river to revive the drought-stricken land, people gathered at the base of the hill to receive her. The force of her currents was so swift that the pleats of the women’s saris turned backwards. And to this day, the women in Coorg wear their saree in this manner.

Visit Namdroling Golden Temple at Bylakuppe 

Time stops still as you marvel at the beauty of the 30 ft high gilded statues of Buddha at Namdroling Golden Temple in Bylakuppe, India’s largest Tibetan settlement in Coorg. Serene and untouched, the area comes alive with the faint chants from the monasteries  of the Sakya, Sera, Kagyudpa and Nyingmapa orders. The beautiful stupas and the prayer flags which sway to the music of the wind creates a visual poetry – one that completely mesmerises you.