Kerala has always been a place that I have wanted to visit, and I finally got an opportunity to go there on a recent trip to India. It was an amazing adventure mixed with a million emotions, and I am very excited to re-live my experiences by sharing my trip with all of you over the next couple of weeks.
This particular trip to Kerala was very special for me, because even though I have seen quite a few places in the world, this was the first time I had ever traveled by myself. It wasn't that I was travelling by myself that brought on my own hesitations. It was that I was traveling by myself, within India, as a girl, so basically my parents worst fears. But I did my research, put on my cape of courage, and found Kerala Greenery tours and amazing travel company that provided me with a fun and safe travel through Kerala.
My trip started at 4am, a night that I didn't sleep. It could have been from the anticipation of missing my flight but it was probably the last minute packing I had to start and finish, as usual. But my excitement of getting into Kerala to see the sun rise was put on hold, as soon as I got to the airport and found out my flight was delayed for a few hours. Since they were unsure what time my flight would be taking off, I had no time for a power nap. When I finally got on the plane it was such a short flight, that I made the executive decision that I was going to be pulling an all nighter with no sleep. When I landed in Kerala and stepped off the plane I was greeted with sunshine, and the excitement of being in a new place. The feeling of warm sun and the sight of palm trees has always been the best sign of a good vacation.
After waiting for an hour for my bags, and finally having them in my hands, I got nervous. I was now in a new place, with no idea if my driver that I had been assigned knew my flight had been delayed. Had my driver left, or waited was the million dollar question? I stepped out of the airport, where a ton of people were staring at me, tried to pretend I was not a stressed out, sleep deprived traveler. Otherwise I knew I would get targeted by the tons of drivers ready to overcharge a new traveler to their destination. As I figured out what my next move would be, I stood there pleasantly surprised. Unlike all the other places I have been to India, I was not hounded by people pulling at me to make quick decisions. I found a public phone I could use for 10 rupees outside the airport and called my driver. My driver Mr. Unni, promptly answered and told me he had waited for me at the airport. I was so grateful that Mr. Unni had patiently waited for me at the airport for 3 hours. It can be very stressful to get to a new place, have your flight delayed for a few hours, and then not know if the driver that was assigned to pick you up is still at the airport. But as soon as I called him and explained where I was, he was there a few minutes later to help me with my luggage and drive us to Munnar. It was such a treat that Kerala Greenery tours had given me my own driver that could speak some English, in an a/c car for the duration of my time in Kerala. When you are going from city to city in a short duration of time, having transportation taken care of in advance was a blessing, and it allowed me to really enjoy the different cities I was staying in.
I didn’t stay in Cochin for the day but went straight to Munnar. During my 4 hour drive, I passed in and out of small naps, since I was pretty exhausted. The times that I was awake, I remember thinking this must be a dream, because all along my winding drive I saw lush green hills, small shops along the way and very little traffic. It was amazing to see so much greenery around you, I almost felt like I was back home in Vancouver. After a few hours of being in the car with Mr. Unni, I could tell that I would be safe with his driving abilities. Since I was going to be driving to 4 different cities, I wanted to make sure that I would have a great driver and that is exactly what I got from Kerala Greenery.
A few years ago I had lived in Mumbai, India for 6 months, and the one thing that scared me the most was seeing how people drove in India. It’s erratic, there are no rules, no one follows the road lines, and honking your horn happens so frequently that you can't go more than 7 seconds without hearing someones horn. Note to self: do not play "every time you hear a honk take a shot" as a drinking game in India, it will be a disaster. I remember my first time getting on a friend’s bike in India, with no helmet or any sort of safety measure, I was pretty terrified. I mean if I had it my way I would have worn a helmet, a bullet proof vest, elbow pads, knee pads and had a pillow cushion to sit on just in case something happened. But after daily bike trips to chai and around the city of Mumbai I came to trust my friend and his driving ability. So after sitting with Mr Unni for 4 hours, I definitely came to trust his driving skills. Even though I would never dream to try some of the maneuvers he did, so that we wouldn’t get stuck behind yet another slow truck on our one lane winding road. We made two stops along the way, one was to see a small waterfall and the other one was where I tried my first pineapple lassi in a small road side stop. It was a delicious drink that I got at Rasa Restaurant. Now let me explain, I have had lassi before and for anyone that doesn’t know what a lassi is it’s like a milkshake without the milk, instead it is made with yogurt and usually mango pulp. So the pineapple twist on this lassi, was a refreshing treat. Unfortunately my love affair with my pineapple lassi was cut short after a few sips as I spilt the entire thing as soon as I got into the car. Smooth move right?
The rest of the drive to Munnar I was stunned by how beautiful driving through the tea plantations were. I had seen pictures of the rolling hills on the Internet prior to my trip, but being there seeing it with my own eyes was completely different. There were times where I was shocked I was still in India during my drive to Munnar. I have seen a few places in India and I would have never expected to see such lush greenery, hills as far as the eyes can see, not many tall buildings, and a small town in the middle of all this beauty, bustling with activity. Since I have already written what seems to be a book, this will be just part one of my amazing first day in Kerala.
Thank you all for reading!
Pictures by moi