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|28th October 2008, 01:27||#1|
A Family trip to the beach in the Grand Vitara
After a long time I had a free Sunday last week, and the wifey says letís go beaching at Byndoor. Considering we are only 10 KMs away from Malpe beach, why should we go 75KMs away? Ah, there is a difference, big difference. Malpe beach on weekends is a carnival, full of tourists, hawkers and what not. Thatís not our kind of fun, we want the beach to be big, clean and deserted, practically for ourselves.
So I called up Sai Vishram beach resort and reserved a day visitation for our family of four. To get reservation at this beach, you need to have references. This is also a teetotalerís beach resort, no booze, pure vegetarian and no BYOB either.
The first 15Kms until Bramavara is pure pain. I managed to do it in 31 minutes and was proud of it. It generally takes 45Kms these days thanks to National Horror 17. After that it gets a little better until say Maravanthe and after that it is pure bliss.
When I mentioned my timing to my wife, she was not impressed. She had travelled on this route couple of weeks back when it took 45 minutes. She says the road has been fixed. But I saw no sign of roads being fixed. Turns out, they have only fixed the big gaping craters while leaving rest of the medium/smaller potholes alone.
At one point I saw a 5 car caravan slowly negotiating the trail (no, no, we are still on NH-17) at 5Kmph. After following them for a minute, I decided to pass them. After all, I could do that stretch in 10Kmph. Since the coast was clear on the right side, I switched to the wrong lane and quickly passed all of them, well almost. The leader of the caravan saw me passing them and he sped up. His passengers must be cursing him, but he didnít want to lose the 10kmph slow race. Well, it was no contest really, not on that road, and not when I could raise my game to whopping 15kmph. He was about to lose, I see an Omni coming in front of me at ooooh, well, what else, at 5Kmph.
So I was forced to stop and then cut back into my lane after letting the caravan leader have the last laugh. The second car in the caravan was considerably lagging now, so I had no trouble cutting back. However, it took about 3-4 seconds for the caravan leader to pass before I could cut left. As I cut left and let the Omni pass, I saw the rear window going down and an arm coming out. Ugh, a Rear Seat Quacker or RSQ. I think we all have seen these RSQ phenomena. Something minor happens on the road, both the drivers are busy getting out of each otherís way, then the rear seat passenger decides he needs to unload and the glass comes down, arm comes out, and goes quack, quack, quackÖ and I call these people Rear Seat Quackers. I usually deal with RSQ in only one way, I ignore them so completely, they have to pinch themselves to make sure they exist. Here is one example: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/453843-post17.html
Just imagine, they are travelling on the most atrocious highway in the area, on an Omni rear seat, and at 5Kmph. My coming in front of them didnít delay them for more than for 3-4 seconds. All this on a road where even buses and trucks often go towards the wrong side to avoid craters. Since they canít scream at the real culprits like politicians, NHAI or road contractors who caused this mess, a guy who delayed their Omni for 4 seconds is the next target. Anyway, I gave them the standard treatment for RSQ .
Rest of the road was uneventful, and we reached Dombe village around 12:45PM after a small photo-op.
This is one of the finely landscaped beach resorts in the area. As we parked, I noticed that there were no other cars in the area. The caretaker came by and asked us to use tent #1 during our few hours of stay.
This building is the coolest place in the resort, it feels air-conditioned even during summer afternoons.
We saw this strange water craft in that building, but I forgot to ask them about it.
By this time, the food was beckoning us.
The dining room.
The chapathi was heavenly, my son who doesnít usually like chapathi, went bonkers over it. Although this place is vegetarian, they make sure do compensate with delicious food.
Our younger one wandered all over the place while having his food, with my wife following him all around. Meanwhile, we discovered that we were the only guests today. They were enjoying a brief lull between the Navarathri holidays and Diwali holidays. We practically had the place for ourselves.
After lunch we retired to the tent for an hour of relaxing. But there was not much relaxing since the young one wanted to pull down everything and we had keep jumping up going ďDonít touch that, donít touch thisĒ.
The private backyard of the tent.
The front porch of the tent.
At 3PM, we decided to take off so that we can visit the view point on the top of the hill. I have been there couple of times, but my wife hasnít. I always went from outside, this time I wanted to visit from the inside route. I knew there was a road all the way up. However, I always climbed about 200 steps through the hill to reach that place. Walking with a toddler who is not yet two, I didnít want to take that route.
First we visited the reception building to get some direction. There I found couple of all-terrain-vehicles and I was told that it can be rented at the rate of 200 bucks per 15 minutes. I booked a session for the evening. I have never driven one before, so what the heck, will do it today.
After getting some basic direction to walk towards the viewpoint, we strolled towards it while making both the juniors walk.
There is a small shrine for Shirdi Sai Baba on the way.
Here we are, starting to climbÖ
But, the steps turned into bushy labyrinth and we had to return. After getting some more directions, we walked the walkway and then some steps, some trails and finally a dead end against a huge excavated mud wall. After 40 minutes of exploring the wilderness with two kids, we ran to dead ends against the excavated hill repeatedly. I was finally convinced that there is no path through the resort. By this time the little one was too tired and I had to carry him all the way back. The resort people were not thinking about the same viewpoint as I did, that was the problem.
We trudged our way back to the tent for some 5 minutes of R&R and water, and again took off towards the known path, this time we took the GV until the foot hill.
There are lots of steps here, at least 200+ I think. This time kids were again walking and even the little one made it all the way up with ample help from us hoisting him up.
But there is a great view at the end. A river joins the sea at this point.
|28th October 2008, 01:42||#2|
On the top of the hill, there is a forest department guest house with just two cottages.
The view from the first cottage
The view from the second cottage
I had a chat with the caretaker. The cost to rent the cottage is just 400 bucks a night, while the tent at the resort will set you back 4000 bucks a night. That’s the cost of luxury. There is no food facility, but if ration is provided, the caretaker will cook for you. And yes, you can eat non-veg, get your own booze and party as you like. That you can’t do at the resort below. However, there are no water sports here, and you need to go the beach near the temple to frolic in the water. The cottage can be booked only at Kundapur DCF’s office.
After that we came back to the resort and the snacks were ready. We were greeted by 3 dogs at the dining hall, two Labradors and one giant Harlequin Great Dane. Friendliest group of dogs I have ever seen. They gotta be… how else they can run around loose in a resort where new people come every day.
If you are not sure why I said giant Harlequin Great Dane, check this snap where I stood next to it.
I am standing with my hands up since the dog showed some interest in licking my hands, and I wasn’t into it. I mean, it is the biggest dog I have seen that closely.
After snacks, it was play time. My wife and kids walk away towards the beach and I had other plans.
Yup, my first ATV ride. During the snacks, I was asked whether I want to ride the 250cc geared ATV or 150cc auto-transmission ATV. What will a Team-BHPian say?
No, I didn’t say the obvious. After all, I am a careful man. This is a completely new kind of vehicle for me, so I figured it is better to start with a weaker auto-tranny until I get used to it. So I chose the 150cc automatic ATV. Turned out to be good decision, on both counts.
Initially I thought I could drive this thing in the beach. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Since quite a few people drove the ATV into the water, they don’t allow beach drives any more. Washing a salt-water soaked ATV is no joke. I could only drive it in resort walkways and in wild garden. Basically, offroading in dry mud and uneven grounds.
As I wore the ill-fitting helmet and learnt how to control the beast, I found out it has a mighty kick. It had lots of torque, just a small twist of the handle and it just takes off. Wonder how the 250cc would feel like. At first I took it slowly, learning to control that sudden release of torque. As I was about to turn, I tried to turn and it didn’t. The bike method of tilting and turning simply didn’t work since it doesn’t tilt. A slight twist of the handle doesn’t work either. One has to literally turn the handle like it is a car. I mean, these things should be equipped with steering wheel, not a handle like a bike. And when you turn, there is no countering of centrifugal force, so you feel pushed out of the vehicle. After some practice I found that if I stand and tilt my body to counter the centrifugal force, it works out fine.
After 15 minutes of offroading in the uneven grounds, I decided to stop. After offroading in Jeep, this ATV offroading didn’t feel any special. The ride was way too hard and handling was terrible, Jeep wins on both counts. Now I understood why too many people drove into water, it is not easy to turn at the last moment unless you have good practice, and most guests who ride are first-timers.
Anyway, I took couple of shots after the ride.
Since I couldn’t drive the ATV in the beach, I suddenly started having craving for beach driving. After reading Tanveer’s desert travelogue, I figured I had a better understanding of dealing with sand, it was time to put that knowledge to test. At first I just walked into the beach and took a look around.
On the left side, I just saw my family having fun in the waves.
On the right side, well, nobody.
What you see in the above photo immediately in front is the entrance to the beach. Notice the texture of the beach sand until it hits the high waterline. This part is extremely soft and every step sinks into the sand. If I take the Grand Vitara into the beach, this is going to be the most challenging part. Getting down to the beach may not be a problem since it is downhill. But getting out could be a problem. Then I remembered that these guys have a tractor just for the purpose of pulling the water crafts out of the water. So, recovery vehicle is not a problem. With that thought I decided to take the GV into the beach, for the very first time.
I started off at 4H-lock before I got into the sand and drove over the quick-sand section fast in 2nd gear. I could feel the sand give way, but I was too fast to get bogged down. After that part, I stopped on firm wet sand and switched to 4L-lock and started ripping across the beach in 3rd gear. Wow, what fun!
I took a K-turn and then flew the other way. This time I executed a fast U-turn drifting happily in the sand. There was no body-roll at all during the U-turn although I was expecting it. Did the drifting neutralize it, I am not sure about the mechanics of it. Now I came back to the start position and came to a grinding halt in firm wet sand. When I say firm wet sand, I mean the part which was under water during high tide in the morning.
By now many resort employees were by the beach watching the fun, apparently this is not a common sight for them. They were quite impressed with the drifting U-turn, well, so was I.
Ok, now it is photo-op time. Unfortunately, I had recently turned off noise-filtering on my E3 for some reason and forgot to turn it back on. Because of that, many of the lowlight images have too much noise.
You can see the effect of grinding halt on the sand.
The left side
The right side
The sun is about to set…
The young one is having too much fun on his first day ever on the beach. In his last visit here, he was only 2 months old.
Later as we washed the sand off him in the sea water, he couldn’t stop giggling.
It feels like a private beach, isn’t it? In Karnataka, there is no concept of private beach, they are all public beaches here.
Now I wanted to take my family on the beach drive and there is a problem. Both the kids are soaking wet, putting them in the GV means spoiling the seats. And my wife can’t join me leaving the young one. So they walk away to the tent leaving me with one more round of beach drive and the ultimate problem of getting off the beach.
Meanwhile, I want to take video of the beach drive, but I can’t do it by myself. No, driving on the beach executing fast U-turns and shooting video in one hand is out of question. My wife could have it shot it, but she had already left with the kids to the tent. Anyway, bad luck.
So I took off again in 4L, driving in 3rd and 4th. This time I drove both directions and did fast U-turns on both side. After the second U-turn, as I approached the entrance, now I faced uphill drive on quick-sand kind of sand terrain. I switched to 3rd in low and with a wide turn and gunned for the entrance. As I entered the danger area, I could feel the sand literally parting under me and I realised I couldn’t accelerate anymore, in fact I could generate instant wheel spin if I push the A-pedal any more. So I just maintained the same speed and hoped that the momentum was enough to carry me all the way. In few seconds it was all over and I was on firm rocky road, and I came to a stop and disengaged the diff lock.
Before I got down, I just wondered. The bunch of resort employee standing at the entrance, did they have any idea about how close I had come to getting stuck. It must have looked very ordinary since it came off so uneventfully. With that thought, I got down and walked towards them.
But wait, they all look positively ecstatic, beaming with happiness and downright thrilled. One guy couldn’t hold it anymore and burst out.
He: Sir, you are the first one to ever drive in this beach and get out on your own.
Me: You mean nobody has ever driven in this beach?
He: No sir, this first part is so tricky, everybody gets stuck here. We have had so much trouble pulling our own boat dollys even while using the tractor.
Me: Well, it is the right combo of torque and momentum. Also, in sand the floatation is more important than the grooves on the tyre.
He: I see what you mean, now all our dollys have completely bald balloon like tyres, now it is much easier.
After some more sand off-road talk, I walked away with a happy smirk. Damn, these guys actually understood the problems of beach off-roading. As I drove towards the tent, I found my wife and kid standing outside waiting for me. The tent keys were in the GV.
After giving a quick bath to the little one, as I was dressing him up, I recalled I had not taken any snaps of the tire tracks on the beach. I mean they really tell the tale of how GV floated over the sand. By this time it was quite dark, not much chance of a clear picture. Still, I had to try, so I tried, and got something acceptable.
In the first image you can see the left turning tracks, that is how I entered the beach. The right turning tracks are exit tracks from the beach. In both cases, you would notice that the tracks get deep once I enter the firm wet sand, but it practically glides over the dangerous quick-sand zone.
This is a close up shot using flash. Notice how the tracks are not any deeper than the foot steps, the GV just floated over the sand.
Had I slowed or stopped at this part, it would have been Hello Tractor. I don’t think GV has the torque the pull out of that one. At least I didn’t want to find out the hard way, not on a family trip.
After this we packed up, paid the bill, it came to 750 bucks for everything including the ATV ride, and we drove home. The best fun was driving GV on the beach and that was priceless.
The parting shot, Rudra added his touch my GV beach shot.
Last edited by Samurai : 28th October 2008 at 09:18. Reason: corrected the dog breed
|28th October 2008, 02:04||#3|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Nice travelogue and as usual awesome pics of the Grand Vitara. Maruti should use this pics and your's and Sudev's travelogues to market the Vitara.
|28th October 2008, 08:58||#5|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Thanked: 8 Times
Excellent travelogue and pictures as always. The parting shot is wallpaper material. I was wondering why you have not posted any travelogues recently.
By the way, that isn't a dalmatian its a Great Dane .
Last edited by hemanthisgreat : 28th October 2008 at 09:10.
|28th October 2008, 09:23||#6|
After the great escape, I have been way too busy, therefore haven't been anywhere else, hence no travelogues.
BlackPearl, Maruti prefers to shows GV with city background only. Therefore, shots of sudev or mine won't be of interest to them.
|28th October 2008, 09:45||#8|
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Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
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Wonderful set of pics again Samurai San !!
I saw the pics of your last travelogue to this place and that was awesome too and if I remember you went to a point where you can see the sea from a higher altitude. Excellent capture of the place !!
|28th October 2008, 10:04||#9|
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@Samurai: I just wonder if locking was really needed. Your call on beach sand but seeing only small sink on track picture I would have tried without lock. Since GV is AWD it handles sand drives wonderfully. May be next time?
You really should join the fun during Desert Storm recce to enjoy GV's capabilities. I will give you a heads up when I next go there.
I see from your photo-op shots that you have also fitted a 4 point reverse sensor. Does it work? In my case I had to disable the inner two sensors as the wheel cover gives a bounce shadow and the sensors show constant "near" alarm.
Last edited by sudev : 28th October 2008 at 10:06.
|28th October 2008, 11:37||#12|
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You did it finally. Remember you telling me though you are near beaches, you did not go so often to the beaches.
The place is interesting, and a nice getaway. Thankd for sharing.
|28th October 2008, 15:04||#14|
Since I don't get to have other more experienced off-roaders with me, I always end up playing safe. If I had couple of other Jeepers with me, I would have experimented with different approaches.
|28th October 2008, 16:41||#15|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Good day out Sharath, I didn't know Sai Vishranti gave a tent for a day visit, but like you said they take people in with references only, last time I went there, we were the only ones, it seemed too lonely so we didn't stay the night.
Your GV looks awesome on the beach.
Needless to say, the snaps are excellent as usual.
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