“10°C is the temperature here. So come prepared for it” Mr Priyesh our camp coordinator told us. We were really thrilled about our very first camping experience and this ‘weather update’ made us jump out of joy. I & Annie were planning of celebrating our first new year at Cochin Carnival. That’s when she came across New Year Camping by Campper. I was so excited about the idea of spending the new year eve in a tent, under the warmth of a campfire and all, but she wasn’t. It took me two whole days to convince her. Even though I hadn’t done camping before, I sounded like an expert in tent camping and wellness. And at last, we started our journey to Camp Woody at Suryanelli, Munnar.
ANTHONY. SIXTEEN. JEEP DRIVER
Just like always, Munnar received us with her cool breeze. There were a lot of constructions and repairs happening in the roads post the floods. But it really amused us how quickly everyone got back to their feet after the floods. After a long tedious ride, we reached Suryaneli Town.
Anthony, our jeep driver was there waiting for us. When he picked up our bags and took us to the jeep, we thought he might be the helper of the driver. The real amusement was when he started the jeep. We asked him how old he is. “Sixteen” came the reply, concentrating on the climb ahead.
Anthony dropped us at Camp Woody. When Annie gave him a Fifty rupees note, he smiled with shy.
STEAMING HOT WELCOME
Loud music welcomed us to Camp Woody. Some fellow campers were there before us. Priyesh came with a warm smile and took us into the camp. The welcome drink turned out to be a lifesaver. Steaming hot black tea with biscuits tasted great in that chilling climate. Priyesh showed us our tents. He said it’s facing Aanayirangal Dam, but the whole landscape below us has been concealed under thick fog. The tent was provided with beds, bedsheets, pillows and a blanket. And it was so warm and homely inside. After settling down, we head to the campfire ground.
New Year Camping got its vibe at the campground. Music and campfire was a great combo. There were some people singing and dancing around the campfire. We joined them and had a great time. Some more campers joined as the time passed. The whole campground was in a festive mood. Dasettan, our caretaker at camp was preparing BBQs. We joined him for some short talks and some warmth away from the crowd. As the time passed, Priyesh called everyone for dinner.
The dining table was full of dishes. Chappathi, Fried Rice, Chicken Curry, Chicken BBQ, Veg BBQ and a lot of other things were there for the new year eve. Chappathi and Fried Rice got cold. No one can be blamed. That’s the kind of cold there. Still, Fried rice tasted good. BBQ was live and hot. Gulab Jam was there for the dessert and it tasted really good. During that dinner, we meet and greet a lot of fellow campers. A new friend circle was forming there.
LIGHTING UP THE NEW YEAR
As the countdown for the new year started, Priyesh and his team started handing over sky lanterns to us. Cold breeze accompanied us to the camp’s extreme point. That’s from where the sky lanterns had to be flown. All the campers gathered at the point and started preparing their lanterns. When the sound of firecrackers resonated from the landscapes far away, when the countdown touched zero, tens and tens of lanterns lifted up, in search of new horizons. We marked the new year in a remarkable way. Dasettan and Co. distributed carrot cakes to us. A sweet start to the new year. After the celebrations, wishes and selfies, we head to our tent for a sweet night’s sleep.
The little cuckoo somewhere far away woke me up. It’s the ‘new’ morning. Annie was asleep. I didn’t wake her up. 7°C was the temperature. Outdoors felt so fresh that morning. The landscape beneath was fully under the blanket of mist. Dasettan was full on action even on this chilling climate. He served me some hot black tea. I got one more for Annie and woke her up. We went to the extreme point of the campsite, from where we flew the lanterns last night. We hold our hands and thawed down in the calmness and chill of that point.
Breakfast was delicious. They managed to serve hot food this time. After breakfast, its time to say goodbye. We meet each fellow camper who spent time in this New Year Camping and said goodbye. We thanked Priyesh, Dasettan and their team for making this stay a wonderful experience. As the jeep came to pick up, we searched for Anthony. But he wasn’t there. “Might have gone to school” said Annie, still looking for him…
Thank you team Campper for a wonderful new year camping experience. The start for the year was perfect. Now let’s hope to move forward with this charm.