India here we are!
Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
52Trip End Apr 16, 2007
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Finding some decent Internet in India, has proven a bit of a 'challenge'. Almost like it is for general day to day life in these parts! So,sorry we are going to have to cover our journey in India so far, into this one travel pod, whilst we have a chance to get it sent out properly!.
Having left Bangkok (a while back now) on a not very entertaining Silk airways flight..... we headed for a place in South India - called Trivandrum,which is located in the state of Kerala.
As we expected with arriving tired and late at night, the hotel tried to con us from the word go! We arrived to this dark city about midnight and attempted to check in to our hotel,which we had pre booked and paid a deposit for.. Simple right???!!.......However in true Indian style, an hour later we were still in reception arguing with about 10 Indian guys, who were trying to charge us around double the price of the room! In the end though, victory was ours and we eventually chilled out in bed with a very nice bottle of Lindermans Vino, that we have purchased in Duty free!!
The next morning we ventured out to see our first stop in India and all in all was really good and little hassle.... well apart from Lou's being stared at constantly, like the locals had never seen white people/women before! As there was very little for a tourist to see in this city, we departed after 2 days here and decided to get some beach therapy in!. We headed 20kms to the coast, for a place called Kovlam, which is a really nice beach/village. We were quite shocked to see so many white people! This place is an up and coming place for European holiday makers and even Thomas Cook have started package deals out here. So it felt a little bit like being in Spain! The funny thing though, is that majority of the bars/restaurants can't afford a liquor license, so are not legally allowed to sell alcohol!!? So whenever we asked for a beer, it was given to us in a teapot, with some teacups and we had to pretend we were sipping a nice hot brew.!!! Seriously!!!...We were all to happy to be part in this conspiracy though!. Although we are not sure why the cops couldn't quite work out why lots of travelers acted so silly after drinking numerous cups of what they thought, was a nice cup of tea! Although i think the weekly payments made to the local bobby's by the restaurants, certainly secured a certain amount of freedom to sell whatever they wanted (other than tea) to thirsty travelers!! Good old corruption!
Beer in a tea pot
Next stop North, was a great place called Varkla. This is was another beach area, but minus the package holidays and full of hippies! The best part about this place was an amazing Indian veggie restaurant that we found, which we ended up eating in daily!! In India though, the veg restaurants don't sell Beer!! Thats the only downside! We stayed here for a couple of days and then headed North again, to the town of Allepy,in Keralan backwaters. This is a lovely area, where you can explore the massive maze of canals and rivers, which weave into the lush semi-tropical countryside of Kerala. We did intend to do a 'touristy' boat trip, but the prices were really high,.as is the norm for foreigners in India!! But by luck we found out that a trip on the local commuter boat/ferry, cost around 15 pence and we got to see the same (if not better) sights at a hundredth of the cost! The only slight downside, was you had to pooh or wee into the river,by way of a square hole at the back of the boat! Even funnier when people were washing clothes on the bank, with the same water! But still the cheaper cost won the day!
Toilet on the boat!
The next main highlight of India, was a bag of Walkers crisps and a visit from our mate back home! Chris Homer sent us a random text saying he might visit us in India and a week later he arrived in Cochin with his backpack and some cheese and onion walkers!! Chris had arranged to travel around with us for 2 weeks so we all decided to head to Goa and hit more beaches! Initially we were all going to travel on a sleeper train for 10 hours But after a previous experience on a 5 hour train journey (which seemed like double that), where we couldn't get a seat, apart from being with thieves and beggars, we decided against another one.. So we immediately decided to book a 1 hour flight instead!! The cost though was only about 20 quid each!! So what would you do!?!?!?
Scum class on the train!
So Goa it was and this is where all our travel plans for India went totally out the window......
We arrived in Goa ago with the intention of staying a week to ten days. But just like a blink of an eye and a good tan later, we were still there 1 month later! Our plans of continuing North to Gujarat and Rajastan for the North Indian experience, were rousted by the appeal of Beaches, hot weather, cheap booze and having a great time with fellow travelers we met.Who in the end were actually the ones who persuaded us to stay longer! In Goa we experienced the package holiday and fun resort of Baga. Along with this we sampled the likes of Vagator, Anjuna and Arambol, which ultimately were quieter resorts for backpackers and hippies to rest their weary bones.
So in a nut shell, we really didn't achieve as much in regards to seeing India as we had first hoped. But hey we have been on the road for 11 months!! So the prospect of staying firmly in one place for while, was definitely a favorable option. If anyone does go to Baga in Goa, then visit Antonio's beach shack restaurant. The staff are great and we didn't have to lift a finger the whole time! Dan and the other lads enjoyed many days of beach cricket with the locals and all the souvenir sellers began to know us very well. We have met friends for life in our month in Goa and have really enjoyed it. One of the best nights was in Titos bar,where Lou volunteered to be hypnotized with some other people,by a really cheesy hypnotist guy from Yorkshire. The whole thing was made so funny by the fact that Lou played along and had everyone in the audience believing she was actually under the spell. The others just gave in and didn't go along with the con-artists efforts of making them sleep. While Lou on the other hand looked like a real Pratt! But was very amusing!
But in the end we knew the fun had to stop and we had to move on quickly, as time is running short for us to see Nepal. So instead of a mammoth land journey to Delhi from Goa, we once again were tempted into the option of air travel. So Delhi here we are and planning to spend our last month or so making up some proper backpacking in the Himalayas...
Our time in India so far has been great. There are not many places where just about anything unusual can happen, at any time! The tricks and potential cons are a nuisance. But most of all, its being stared at, or just randomly being stopped in the street for a chat that is just the strangest. On the upside, the people here can be the nicest,friendliest and most generous people anywhere. But there is certainly the other extreme of people that continues to drive any Indian traveler to insanity. Especially Rickshaw drivers..... But thats another of many stories.
You will here from us soon about our time in Delhi and Nepal!!.......