THE BEGINNING OF A LONG JOURNEY
In October 2018 we, Anni and Timo, decided to leave our home country for a while. We wanted to travel the world on a one way ticket. The first country on our long journey was India and we fell in love with it immediately. To put it in a nutshell: warmhearted people, breathtaking landscape and amazing food.
ABOUT OUR VISIT
We flew to a state in the southwest of India, called Kerala. It´s said to be the best region for a soft start in an area, which is not quite touristic yet. We decided to stay there for three weeks, but in the end it felt like the best country we have ever visited and we would have loved to stay even longer. We visited five different places: Cochin, Allapuzha, Kumily, Munnar and Madurai. Each of them was a real highlight in itself. Let us tell you more about these amazing places!
Cochin was our port of arrival and it surprised us right away. Even before we got out of the airplane, an Indian couple shyly asked for a selfie with us. We were a real attraction for the locals – Timo is two meters tall and Anni has blond hair. Cochin itself offers a great insight into the locals’ everyday businesses with busy streets and many vendors trading all kind of regional goods. Especially the little Jewish quarter of Cochin attracts most of the tourists to buy some fragrant spices, colorful silk and hand sewn clothes. During our first days we learned how to cross the streets in India, we tried to eat with fingers properly and we got our first spicy breakfast.
From Cochin we headed down to Allapuzha. Our lovely residence was located in the middle of Kerala’s backwaters. The next days we slept on a thin barrier island which was originally formed by the waves and currents of the Arabian Sea. We enjoyed amazing sunrises and sunsets between big lakes, rice fields and canals – all fed by 38 rivers. On the mainland we found our favorite spot to eat at Thaff Restaurant.
Heavy monsoon rainfalls caused countless landslides at the West Ghats, so we had to wait until the roads in the mountains were accessible again. On the way up we really experienced fear of death. Our bus driver apparently tried to conquer the steep and narrow serpentines as fast as possible by taking perilous maneuver. Kumily and especially the Panthalams Homestay turned out to be our favorite destination on our whole trip so far. We absolutely fell in love with the unbelievable friendly family, who runs this place. The awesome view from our balcony, cooking classes in the family´s private kitchen and playing with their kids were just a few highlights.
Vast tea plantations, breathtaking waterfalls, giant eagles flying in the sky and elephants grazing on a hill near a lake – this is how we experienced Munnar. The new town itself is a bit busy, but the old town is a good place to stay. With its´ unique diversity this region is one of the most interesting places and therefore a must see in Kerala.
After some exciting days in the mountains we went to the neighboring state Tamil Nadu and its biggest city Madurai. There we experienced a completely different facet of India… more poverty, more dirt and more reek. That’s why we decided to spend our last morning on top of “Thiruparankundram”, a beautiful hill, which is located a bit outside of the town.
TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT
We experienced lots of new, interesting and also funny situations. The same time we were seeking to find attractions, we were an attraction ourselves for the local people. During three weeks we have met only a few light-skinned people but we were surrounded by smiling and friendly Indians most of the time. We don’t know who took more photos – we of the country or the countries people of us.
3 THINGS WE WON´T FORGET
1. Food and eating habits: eating with the fingers was really special to us, but we tried to adapt and integrate as well as possible (there is a sink in every restaurant, wash your hands thoroughly before eating)!
2. Q and A: the Indian way to answer our questions was always the same: shaking with the head and saying “no problem”. Sometimes it was really hard to find a reliable answer.
3. Traffic: after visiting India, the traffic in all other countries is easy for us.
GOOD TO KNOW
1. Women should always dress properly! That includes to cover as much skin as possible (long trousers and at least a T-Shirt), although it can get very hot in India.
2. Restaurants are often called “Hotels” in Kerala.
3. The small restaurants without AC serving only a few Indian dishes were throughout the best! There is always water for free on the tables – it’s boiled, so you can drink it unscrupulously.
If you want to find out more about us and our journey, take a look at our blog with lots of travel inspiration about all the countries we have visited and will visit in the future.
By Anni and Timo from @anniandtimo