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Old 21st August 2008, 14:43   #16
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Excellent writeup and good camera work doing the justice. I guess snakes started liking you, even in your previuos Agumbe drive you had encountered a pit viper and this time its a baby python staring at you.

Awaiting for some more photos and the experiences.

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Old 21st August 2008, 14:50   #17
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amazing mindblowing.

I am sooo jealous (as always)
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Old 21st August 2008, 18:59   #18
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Samurai sir as usual nice writeup and the way you and your wife take on such kind of trips its really special to get to see such kind of pair.

Enjoy more and more ride with your wife and joined with your kids and write more travelogues.

One day we shall tame the untamed forest with our vehicles (Safari & Vitara)

What do you say ???

Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Cant wait more. Keep it coming.

OT: Where are the "Tall boys" in Bangalore (@gowda, are you ready with your KING?)? How do you think about a trip to here guys? When you do plan, keep a seat vacant for me. hehehe.
Mahesh not yet planned anything like this trip as i am not in India and could plan something when i am back in Bangalore and will surely let you all know before leaving.

My King is waiting for me to take him to the untamed forest and make our own road.

Last edited by gowda79 : 21st August 2008 at 19:01.
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Old 21st August 2008, 19:09   #19
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Originally Posted by gowda79 View Post
One day we shall tame the untamed forest with our vehicles (Safari & Vitara)
Then the Suzuki Samurai has to come and drag us out, like it happened in my trip. No, I am taking the Jeep next time. Trail driving in soft mud is better left to Jeeps and Gypsys. You'll now why when I complete this travelogue.
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Old 21st August 2008, 19:37   #20
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Fantastic report. I enjoyed every bit of this and as someone said your flow of writing is simply mind blowing......
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Old 21st August 2008, 22:27   #21
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Sharath, You really having fun with the Bangalore jeepers man. This was an awesome mud trail drive that you all had.

Though Prithvi told me about all the fun and adventure you all had, you report is making it even more interesting and am waiting for the towing part :-)

Too bad that my Gypsy was undergoing mods that long weekend else I would have also been there :-)

PS: You are right; Mukund drives his Gypsy like MAD. Imagine on OTR's/ Mud trails he drives like that. One needs to just see him drive his Gypsy on roads.. Oh My God..
and BTW, I see at least his Gypsy now has some semblance of plastic door/window panels. Haven't seen them before -- forget seat belts :-)
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Old 21st August 2008, 23:29   #22
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Then I think you can imagine how Mukund rides his RD 350 and RX 135.

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Old 22nd August 2008, 00:39   #23
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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
You'll know why when I complete this travelogue.
Great travelogue and fantastic pcitures. You have taken me right into the depths of the Muthodi forest. And you have not completed your travelogue. Am eagerly waiting for you to continue.

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
The notchy gearshift of GV has become buttery smooth after I started driving the Jeep.
That is an interesting signature !!
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Old 22nd August 2008, 01:49   #24
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After the fun night, we overslept. We woke up to the clock that said 7:45AM, the same time we reached nature camp previous day. Anyway, I walk over the caretakerís house and take an egg count. Finding we still had 6 eggs, I asked all them to be prepared as bullseye and send it over with coffee. We had enough buns to make egg sandwich. As I was finishing my sandwich I was shocked to see Prithviís Gypsy show up in our driveway along with Jammy. Today we were late, so these guys were serious about getting up early today. I actually forgot to have my coffee in the hurry to get ready. Anyway, we were able to settle the cooking bills/tips and check-out in next 30 minutes.

BTW, here is the video from the trail driving previous day:

The weather here was such that, morning-afternoon-evening all looked the same, dull and overcast. Best light for shooting cars.

This shot was around 9AM, no different than any other time. We never saw sun here, or the moon.

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Once we reached the nature camp, Jammy and Co started brushing their teeth. Hmm, they were not really ready before us. My son was ill previous night (due to all the overeating during the day), and we hadnít shown up at 7:45AM, so they had some to check on us to see whether the kid was doing ok. They didnít get ready any earlier than previous day. Until then we just decided to explore the camp in detail.

These are the luxury cottages available in the nature camp.

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The stairs leading to the river.

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Prithvi in down under gear tries look the part of an outdoorsman.

Muthodi Forest Drive: The post-OTR meet that became part-OTR meet-p8171520.jpg

The river looked quite fascinating from here.

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Meanwhile, letís have a closer look at the leach, I am sure many of you have never seen a leach up close or how it moves. It uses the nose to sense the heat and then latch on. At first it releases an anesthetic so that you canít feel the pain of the bite. Then it releases a blood-thinning (anticoagulant) agent to keep the blood from clotting while they suck on it. Leaches are also used in medicinal leach therapy, or Hirudotherapy.

Here is the video I took of the leach:

Since the idea of full Safari was defeated, after the breakfast we decided to drive into the Jungle and check out the bridge. Initially I didnít want to take the GV into the forest, I mean who knows how bad are the trails. I was assured the trail was quite tame at least until the bridge. Since we have no chance of going any further I decided to take the GV. Meanwhile I took delivery of the tow-chains from Jammy, I had forgotten to take this from him at the Coorg OTR. The only other vehicle was Prithviís Gypsy, Shakir and Mukund decided to leave their rides behind. So the Suzuki brothers entered the jungle.

Here is the state of the bridge. The water was blocked under the bridge due to Jungle debris, and it carved a new path for itself by knocking down part of the bridge.

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The GV parked near the bridge, it has no idea what lies ahead.

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The water level is too high for any adventure, so we turn around. But Jammy is not about to give up. He remembers an old trail and asks the guard to lead to that path. The guard is reluctant since the path is not used and is unsure about the status. We proceed nevertheless into the grassy uphill trail, and GV meets the first obstacle. The grass was wet and slippery and the highway tyres get no purchase. Although the Gypsy continued undeterred in style, the heavier brother stood there spinning on all 4 wheels despite being in 4L with central diffs locked. This is where front/rear diff locks or LSD helps which GV doesnít have. So we reverse down the slope, drift into a U-turn and park it. We decide to join the Gypsy by walk.

See the slimy grassy path where GV failed, now the GV is parked at the entrance of the path.

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Meanwhile Gypsy comes back saying the path is almost closed by shrubs. So we get back into the main trail. After a while decide to try another side trail. About a KM into that trail, we are nicely chugging along and I suddenly notice that I am moving sideways instead of forward. After couple of seconds, I find the GV leaning against the side of the road. And I am not able to get back into the road. We get out and realize that the left wheels are in the gutter which was mostly hidden by foliage.

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This is what happened. Since GV is much wider than Gypsy, I was not exactly following Gypsyís track. I was about 2ft away from the edge of the road. As I was coming off a slight turn in the road, the soft mud under the heavier GV shifted at one place and took me in another path. The next image will show the path took by the front left wheel. At this point we had moved the GV forward from the sinking point.

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I was surrounded by off-roading giants, so I was not overly worried, just about the paintwork on the left side. With their guidance, I moved the GV forward and backward for 20ft in each direction to wriggle out of the gutter. But the edge was too soft, GV too heavy, so the status remained the same. So it was time to use the tow-chains, less than an hour since I received them.

Pulling from the front didnít help, Gypsy didnít have the power to lift the GV out of the gutter.

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Meanwhile, all of us are fighting severe attacks from leaches. As I lean down, I notice that the ground is full of leaches. My son was screaming bloody murder every time he sees a leach on his shoe. Not something to be expected from a village boy. Finally we ask him to sit inside the Gypsy.
It was time try to pull from the rear, so the Gypsy moves back practically pummeling over the other side.

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This time Shakir took over the GV wheels to pull it out in reverse. Even this attempt failed. Eventually we decided to fill the gutter with rocks so as to get the GV to ride over and turn in to the trail. But we didnít have enough rocks. So the Gypsy leaves the scene to collect some rocks.

Meanwhile Devaiah wants to try something. He takes over the GV wheel and reverses it way back, and asks some of us to push the GV out from the side. This ploy almost works, the front wheels actually get out, but as the GV moved forward, we couldnít move with it, so it slides back spinning the wheels. By the end of this operation, I was covered with mud head to foot.

But we had found a way, if the Gypsy can hold it from the front and not let it slide back, we might succeed.

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The Gypsy is finally back with lots of rocks, one of them needed two persons to carry it. We fill the gutter in front of the wheels with rocks. The Gypsy again takes the U-turn and gets in front. If this attempt fails we have to go back for Shakirís Jeep for high torque pulling ability.

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Meanwhile my wife had also fought many battles with the leach, with so many leaches on shoes, on the legs, and some climbing down from the Gypsy ceiling, she had to put up a brave front in the presence of the kid.

This time Shakir takes the wheels again. We repeat the same experiment with Gypsy now holding the GV from sliding back. And it works!!! GV is out of the rut.

By this time we had lost lot of time. It was already 2PM, time to leave for home. So we decide to call it a vacation and turn back. As we are looking for a U-turn, I get very paranoid about the gutter. As Shakir was driving, I was literally screaming at him to keep the hell away from the left gutter, there was none on the right. Shakir must have been really sick of my rants. But I guess that my way of releasing all the tension built up in the past hour. I still didnít know the damage to paint-work on the left side, it was still covered thick in mud.

The big rare smile after getting out.

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Now, why did this happen. This GV has highway tyres and is heavier than Jeep or Gypsy. On slippery slimy shifty forest mud trails, it is easy to slide into the side. If you do want to test your Safaris or Scorpios in this terrain, do carry recovery gear, have another vehicle and a bunch of people, preferably people with offroading experience. The only reason I got out so fast was the skill/experience of the people who were with me at that time.

Total damage: A scratch on the left side paint below the door, you have to search for it, not easily visible. And two screws on the mud guard has come loose. Not bad huh!

To be continued.
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Old 22nd August 2008, 03:05   #25
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Default memories of Top Gear

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
The GV parked near the bridge, it has no idea what lies ahead.

Attachment 41058
This part of your travelogue reminded me of an epsiode from the new Top Gear series (Season 1, I think). Here Jeremy Clarkson tests a Toyota Land Cruiser along-side other SUV's, and eventually all of them get stuck until finally a tractor is called to pull them out but it has a difficult time.

Treacherous, all this mud business but so much fun nonetheless!
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Old 22nd August 2008, 04:14   #26
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Hats off to you guys
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Old 22nd August 2008, 06:40   #27
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Lovely. Every day I read your travelogue, my inspiration to buy a jeep within the next year grows stronger.

If only they deliver that darned Swift VDi first.
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Old 22nd August 2008, 07:20   #28
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Sam: As always an AWESOME write up with pictures. You just keep raising the bar for write-ups poor souls like us now have to be really careful
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Old 22nd August 2008, 08:07   #29
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Thanks guys, I think interesting things happen when you are around off-roading guys. Whenever they hear that a path is closed or unused, it actually gets them more interested.

Meanwhile many of them expressed interest in reading my Sikkim Travelogue, so let me put a link for that. That waterless toilet at Bakim really piqued their interest.
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Old 22nd August 2008, 10:01   #30
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Default The conclusion

The rest of the story can be finished fast, so let me get it over with. Before we got out of the forest gate, we did some photo shoot in this wonderful place.

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Prithviís Gypsy

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Our original plan of bidding farewell at the forest gate had come to naught. I had to change from my mud covered Jeans and T-shirt. We did that at the nature camp and bid farewell to everybody. Although we wanted to return by another route, say Kemmanugundi, it was soon clear it would take us in the opposite direction. Therefore we decided to return in the same route, after all we promised that road some photography on the way back. Others had to return to Bangalore, but not before towing Karthikís Jeep back to Chikmagalur for repairs.

So here goesÖ

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The terrain in Chikmagalur is very rocky, notice the huge rocks in the middle of coffee plants.

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Then there were paddy fields.

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And then there was this strange sight. Coffee plantation on the left, paddy fields in the front, betel nut planation on the right, and cloud covered hills on the back. Sorry, I couldnít capture the full glory, I need a wider lens.

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And the road winds throughÖ

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Driving through this road can be risky in one sense, it could get closed any time stranding you cold.

One of the multiple landslides.

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One of the many fallen treesÖ

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We drove this ghat section between Muthodi to Kadabagere mostly with the windows down. It was so refreshing compared to the A/C. Some places the road was so twisty and inclined, I didnít want to stop for photos and spoil the driving fun. You guys gotta do this stretch just for fun. It would very safe in summer I suppose, but you wonít see this kind of green beauty then. Well, as they say no-risk no-gain. Before we knew we hit the highway at Kadabagere, it felt like we took only half the time, but it took the same time in reality. I think our mindset was very different while coming in compared to now. We soon reached Balehonnur looking out for a restaurant and settled for one, it was already 4PM.

Meanwhile we were getting some really strange looks from people on the road, I donít think they have ever seen a Grand Vitara covered with mud like this. We did indeed look like a strange apparition from another world. As we parked at the restaurant, most eyes were on us.

Anyway, after having rice+mutton masala we started off. The restaurant owner (Tulu guys again) actually apologized for the quality of mutton. Since we showed up late, there were hardly any good pieces in the otherwise excellent curry. I made a silent vow to visit Jayamahal place next time I am in Bangalore.

The rest of the route thorugh 3 more ghats were uneventful although we did scare a large cobra (I think) that was trying to cross the road near Jayapura. As I ripped by it at 60Kmph, I noticed on sideview mirror that it took a U-turn abandoning all plans of crossing the road. Agumbe was again soaked in fog, with very little visibility. But it is no fun driving through Agumbe in closed cars.
We finally reached home at 6:40PM and it was time for some true cleanup, and I am not talking about GV. Remember, we lived in a place without running water, let alone hot water. It was time to take bath baby!

Any of the participants from the trip need higher resolution pics, let me know.

The parting shot for the travelogue (some people on the side were cleanup by Rudra for me)

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The End, until next time.
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