The Kullu Valley and Florence's Birthday

Date: 21/06/2007 | Author: Gabby

Our expectations for Nature Notes were very high. Their website proudly listed the free facilities they offered and I'd had several conversations with Amit, the owner. He'd said that the huts were basic and small which meant we either had to put the girls in a tent outside our hut or get them their own hut. As we planned to spend 5 days there, one of those days being Florence's birthday, we opted for the additional hut. Each hut was 3200 Rps (about 40) - this included breakfast as well as lunch and/or dinner, as well, of course, as the abundant facilities. We are not supposed to be spending this much money on accommodation in India, but as it was Florence's birthday we decided to splash out.
When we pulled up to the 'resort', situated in the Kullu valley about 25km before Manali, I cried! The 7 acre site on the edge of the Beas river is a lovely location - with beautiful views of the snow capped Himalayas in the distance but the place itself wasn't at all as I imagined it. The internet is a great resource for travelling in the 21st Century but the problem is that things often look better online than they really are. This is so true of Nature Notes. I can't really describe exactly what was wrong but nothing was quite right. In my mind I thought we might be going to an Indian version of Centre Parcs, but the facilities just didn't live up to scratch: a trampoline that didn't bounce; badminton facilities but with only 2 racquets and one broken shuttle cock; a kids 'pool' with ice cold water fed from the River Beas; an unsafe looking rope bridge and flying fox there was no way I'd let the kids go on! There were lovely touches, waiters brought your food out to you in the gardens and there was a big campfire lit every night. We met some really interesting Indian familes and while the kids loved it, Dave and I just weren't happy. This just wasn't where I wanted to be. Anywhere other than India - I even suggested to Dave that we just went home. India was not proving to be what I thought it would be!
We did some white water rafting while we were there, which was fun, but with little around to see, by day 2 we decided to go and spend the day in Manali to check it out. We saw some great potential accommodation there - all a lot cheaper than we were paying at Nature Notes. We really liked the town - it had a mix of Indian and Foreign tourists (peak season here) but wasn't as crazy as Rishikesh. We found an available 2 bedroom cottage, with it's own garden and kitchen - adjoining Johnson's Cafe, one of Manali's best restaurants. Dave and I needed no persuasion that we should move from Nature Notes the next day and Ella was right with us. Birthday girl, who had the ultimate say, wasn't sure..........I think she enjoyed knowing it was down to her and she wanted us all to wait as long as possible for her final say. Of course, I tried not to influence her decision in any way, but we had heard that Johnson's made the best chocolate cake in Manali - so we decided to put that to the birthday cake test. It was absolutely delicious and left Florence in no doubt where she should spend her birthday.
We moved out of Nature Notes the next day, 2 days earlier than planned. In fairness to them, they did refund us most of the money we would have lost by moving out early - which made us leave there with a smile.
Manali was great, our cottage was lovely, spacious and had an open fire we burnt every night. The weather was perfect, warm sunny days and cool nights. Florence had a great birthday - despite missing her friends. The chocolate cake was superb - the best I've ever had in India.
With a trek in the Himalayas planned, we are sure the best is yet to come. Things have improved, we've adapted to Indian ways and finally I'm loving it here!

› Back