A Travellerspoint blog

India

Still searching through India

semi-overcast 32 °C

I guess it might be a bit of a sign of the times that it has been almost a week since we have written a blog. I can't decide if it has been this long because we aren't finding it very interesting or we have just become a bit complacent in the things we are seeing. I hope it isn't the latter as we are still pretty discouraged by a lot of the things we are seeing. We added the first photo of the beach in touristy Fort Kochi to show the traditional Chinese fishing nets (that are top of the trip advisor list of things to see here) and the garbage laden beach that they are built on. Although we have found the south less crowded and a little cleaner than the north, it still holds many questions we still can't fathom answers for.

We left Varkala after a relaxing 3 days, there wasn't much more to do after we wandered through the town and along the beaches. Nat did find a good local artist that made her a painting and also tried a local tailor who made her a pretty cool pair of pants for about $4. We were all set to take the train back to Fort Kochi (where we get the plane to Goa) but at the last minute we decided to avoid the aggravation that would surely accompany the random train schedule and took a car on the four hour journey. We decided to spend a night in Fort Kochi to see what it had to offer after our first attempt had been such a failure. In the guidebooks, the streets were described as "French Colonial" and were said to be full of excellent shops and spectacular restaurants, while the beach was said to be another highlight. We went for a walk when we arrived in the afternoon, it was a marked improvement over our first night in this town, but we still couldn't imagine being one of the regular tourists that had decided to spend their short annual vacation in this place. It would be pretty disappointing.

Friday we were flying from Kochi to Goa. I think it would have taken about the same 12 hours it took to fly if we had taken the train. Regardless, we got safely to Goa and back with our trusty tour guide, Shaz. We are in Northern Goa which is known for its beaches, nightclubs and yoga retreats which seems to mean it attracts a variety of tourists looking for a wide variety of entertainment. We rented a scooter right away so we have the freedom to explore and that's exactly what we did...for about 17 minutes which is when we ran out of gas. Natalie immediately accosted the nearest english speaker tourist and he offered to drive me to a gas station which was a lifesaver as it wasn't walking distance by any stretch of the imagination. Back in action we turned a 15 minute drive home into an hour long adventure as the signage here is rather limited and our sense of direction was ridiculously distorted.
At night we have been checking out the local bars and restaurants which has been crazy as the streets here are tiny, but rival the chaos of Delhi. Nat found a great massage yesterday, so I think I'm heading there now while she has gone to do some yoga with Shaz's girlfriend, Ilena. It is Ilena's birthday today so Shaz has organised a big party tonight which should be great.

A few more days and on to Cambodia.

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Posted by colincampbell 19:16 Archived in India Comments (0)

Getting better....I think...

sunny 34 °C

We arrived in Verkala yesterday after a 3 hour taxi ride that wasn't too bad. The south of India is a little less populated then the north and has plenty of palm trees that distract you a little from the less attractive parts. The hotel lived up to almost half of it's advertised attractions which is becoming par for the course. It is great to be back on the ocean though and it really is a quaint little village that is mostly built around yoga and ayurvedic massage centres, not a great place to open a bar, but a very tranquil place.
Having no interest in an early morning yoga session, we got up late and went for a long walk down the beach and then in to town. The locals give us mixed signals, some are overwhelmingly warm and welcoming whilst others seem to make a point of taking a dump on the side of the road when we walk by. That said, we didn't lunch outside the area near our hotel which rims the cliff above the beach which is almost 100% great.
We were walking back after lunch and were convinced to come and try a massage at one of the many clinics that are apparently world renowned for treating whatever ails you. $30 for 90 minutes, sounds good to me...

The next part of the story has been deleted. There are probably no actual accounts of one of these massages online because no one wants to relive it. It was horrendous, don't email us and ask for details, because we won't give them. Let us just save you the hassle and say....don't, just don't...enough said.

We went for stiff cocktails immediately after escaping that mess, lesson learned...we are looking forward to Thailand as I don't think we will have any other massages until then. Dinner tonight is some fresh local seafood and more cocktails, many more cocktails...

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Posted by colincampbell 08:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

The Backwaters of Alleppey

sunny 27 °C

When we (I really mean Nat) was researching all of the adventures we might have on this six month voyage, we (I still mean Nat) scrolled through many lists of "top things to do" that we might have the opportunity to bump into. I don't remember who put it on their list, but we heard about the backwaters of Kerala numerous times. The town of Alleppey has a dock full of boats that we could have chosen from, but our hotel conveniently had one arranged for us that picked us up without us having to go anywhere. So we spent the morning by the pool and were picked up around noon.
If you read the last blog, when I went looking for Nat she was in the kitchen where the chef was showing her how he made a bunch of our favourite dishes. It was a good spot to spend a couple of days.
The boat was about 80 feet long and almost 20 feet wide, wooden and heavy and powered by an old diesel engine that topped out around a blazing, 8 miles per hour. But it was very comfortable, over half of the boat was dining room and bedroom and the rest was kitchen and crew quarters. It was an extremely relaxing 24 hours as we explored the rice fields a in our big boat, and they even arranged a smaller boat to take us through the really narrow canals. It was an interesting look at their way of life, but I think those who have it on their "all time best" lists are blowing things a little out of proportion. The food was great again which keeps us going when it comes to searching for more. The trip was over the next day midmorning and we had seen all that this area had to offer...it was time to move on to our next spot, Varkala Beach.

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Posted by colincampbell 08:11 Archived in India Comments (0)

Photos from Kerala, India

sunny 30 °C

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Posted by colincampbell 20:21 Archived in India Comments (0)

Still tasting India

semi-overcast 28 °C

Thanks to the great people at The Oberoi in Agra (for bringing Nat flowers and Valium when she was a little under the weather) and my friend Shaz (who has been a wizard at making arrangements for us and finding little gems to brighten our days) we are still in India and hunting for things we can appreciate about the country.
We returned to Delhi on Wednesday and went straight to an appointment that Shaz had made for Nat to see the cities best homeopathic doctor in the hopes he had a solution for her recurring headaches. It was a quick trip and he seemed very confident, so we will follow his prescription and keep our fingers crossed. A remedy for this problem would be worth at least 100 trips up and down that road to Agra! After the appointment we went in search of some food and were taken to an excellent restaurant for both food and cocktails. And yes, cocktails are perfect after you have tried to find solutions for headaches!
The one thing that we have admitted we love is the food. No matter where we have eaten, it has been amazing every meal and has the tendency to run through our systems pretty quickly so we are always hungry.
Thursday we left Delhi and the safety of our host and headed out on our own to the state of Kerala in the south. I only had a few minutes online to book a hotel in the city of Cochi, so I had my fingers crossed as we drove from the airport into the night. The hotel guaranteed a clean room and wifi and the pictures were solid so I thought it would be a fine start as a base to make our plans in this area. We didn't arrive until almost 9pm to find that the internet was down and the cook had gone home, so we could pick at the remains of the buffet for our dinner. ..not really the reception we were hoping for, but we managed,
If you google Kerala or even watch the TV ads they play in this country about this area you will see beautiful beaches and quaint little fishing villages...we haven't quite got that far yet, I guess. We used the hotels office computer to do a little more research and found the hotel we are in now and it is quite a step up. I know we were spoiled by the service in Agra, but as we are the only people staying at this place, we are doing okay here too. It is in the town of Alleppey which is known for rice barges that have been converted to take tourists on overnight tours of the lake and little waterways that cut threw the coast here. We have booked one for tomorrow night so we will have some pictures to share I am sure.
For now, we are having a great day. I'm not sure if Nat is by the pool or has ventured into the kitchen to get some tips from the chef, but I should probably go and find out...

Our current internet connection doesn't want to send pictures, so I will when I can...

Posted by colincampbell 08:51 Archived in India Comments (1)

A taste of India

semi-overcast 15 °C

I think it is probably a good thing I am writing this blog as I can temper Nat's severe distain for this country so far. In fact, last night, she called it "Hell on Earth." The population of this country is over a billion people and we were warned about various things we would encounter. Our arrival from Nepal was amazingly pleasant, the airport in Delhi seems very new and the immigration officer was probably the nicest airport personal we have met to date. My friend had sent a driver to pick us up as he was arriving on a later flight that night and we were shuttled off to his house about 45 minutes away. Delhi is a city of over 20 million and is hectic to say the least, driving is quite an adventure with cars, bikes, tractors, horses, trucks, 3 wheeled motorized rickshaws, elephants, dogs....did I miss anything??
His apartment was a nice change from Nepal with a heck of a chef in house ready to make us dinner after a nice warm shower. We were still recovering from flu so got an early sleep. The next day we explored Delhi a little bit, seeing the government buildings and some other sites. When we got out to take pictures, Nat was instantly a star with her blond hair...everyone wanted their picture taken with her and she embraced it.
Yesterday, Shaz had arranged for us to come to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal which is about 200kms or a 5 hour drive away, the roads haven't improved from Nepal! The 3 lane highways also have two dividing lines so the people here seem to think that means there is room for 5 vehicles wide. Lots of honking and general chaos. The road was simply described as devastating; from the miserable conditions that people and animals live in to the pollution in the air, water and on the ground, it is a giant shocker for us.
The hotel we are staying in is spectacular with a view of the Taj Mahal out of our window, but it can't change the fact that just over the fence, this is another planet. We explored the Taj Mahal this morning, which thankfully, was worth the drive and are heading back to Delhi now. I'm not sure how much more of this country I can convince Nat to explore, but we are heading south tomorrow to the beaches of Kerala in the hopes it is different.
Not sure where you will here from us next...

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Posted by colincampbell 21:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

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