Bouncing around in India

Ah! I just got back after two weeks of "backpacking" in India. With my girlfriend as my travel buddy, we hit parts of the state of Kerala and Tamilnadu - Trivandrum, Kochin, Ooty, Mysore, Coonoor to name a few interesting cities. We were able to pull off the entire trip on a looowww budget of 200$ or so for the entire trip - minus the Maldives-India air tickets ofcourse.

We stayed at low class lodges; some had walls that were peeling off, some had bed covers of questionable cleanliness and all had bathrooms with low toilet seats accompanied by broken/no flushing mechanism. Despite that, for some weird reason, most of them had a TV. I kept to trying out and eating mostly Indian sort of food at standard Indian food stalls. Masala dosa and South Indian Idli passed my taste bud tests ;-). The India chai (tea) became one of my favourite drinks. It tastes heavenly compared to the normal "packet" tea we drink usually. The dodgier food stalls seemed to make better chai than the (better) restaurants - really!

Traveling around was what took the most time out of our schedules. It was a very tiring activity too. However, traveling around was easy thanks to their extensive bus system. We avoided the more expensive auto rickshaws and chose to acquaint ourselves with the cheaper-yet-crummier buses which turned out to be a really fantastic mode of travel in India. We traveled mostly during night time and spent daytime exploring and sightseeing. The buses make stops every few hours for food to fill the hungry stomachs and also for toilet escapades to empty up the screaming full bladders.

Fending off from all the "businessmen" that kept on popping up every now and then annoyed me heaps - they don't bugger off when paid a 1 rupee coin unlike the myriad of beggars that pound at you for some money. Almost everyone seems to attempt to swindle you out of some money - so when it comes to ANY monetary transaction one has to be on total guard. I reckon this is especially true when they figure out we weren't locals. Sadly, we spoke zilch of Hindi and thus were easily marked as being "foreigners". That said, the younger generation was admittedly more helpful - they kindly gave us directions and (most in Kerala) seemed to speak good English.

It was definitely a fun and enjoyable trip. The temples, the palaces, the gardens, the museums, the galleries, the backwaters, the tea and coffee plantations, the mountain tops, the waterfalls, the journeys to-n-fro, the people and the animals made the sightseeing very exciting. However, what impressed me most of all, was the harmonious coexistence of all that diversity that populates the land. It was very impressive indeed!


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