Monday, April 9, 2012

A trip to Kerala

DAY 1

Our trip to Kerala started from Ahmedabad on a Monday winter morning. We got up around 5 and got ready, went in the car and finally reached the airport. We had 2 big bags and one small one and a purse. We checked in and went in our first flight together. Unfortunately the seats we got weren't together. There are 3 sets of seats on either side and so we both got the ones away from the window on both sides. Though we were close enough, we weren't together. Not the ideal situation I thought. But there wasn't much option. At least till we reached Mumbai where there was a stop for an hour or so. Unfortunately even from Mumbai, only couples got in so obviously I couldn't ask them to trade places with one of us. One lesson I learnt from this was to ask at the airport counter where they issue the tickets to specially ask for the seats to be together!!!


Finally we reached Kochi airport. We got off the plane, took our baggage. There was a person standing with a sign and my name written. We met him, a cab came and they asked- "Which hotel?" That was a question I did not have an answer too. I only knew that the  city was- Munnar and the schedule, but not the hotel details. We anyways got in the cab and decided to find it out on the way either by calling Makemytrip- who had arranged it. Unfortunately, I had even changed my mobile so the previous contact information was not with me! After this we called their helpline number but even that was of no use. They asked us to contact the person who had done the booking. This left us with only one solution- to stop at an internet cafe and check the previous emails for the number of the person with whom I had interacted while making the payment and doing the booking. Another lesson. When you change your phone, take care of all the contacts even those that you have recently called but not added in contacts.

We drove around for some time and yet there was no sign of anything. Kochi is supposed to be one of the biggest cities there in kerala and yet we could not find any internet cafe anywhere. Finally I spotted one even as the driver was racing ahead. We stopped there, I got in the cafe, got the phone number from the previous emails we had exchanged. I called the person told him that I had done the booking but I don't know the hotel details. He said that he had sent me the vouchers in the email which obviously he had not. I said that I had not received it. In fact earlier too there had been a problem while booking that I had made the huge payment but their site was being updated so it  was cut from my account and did not reach them either. Thankfully the issue was resolved the next day without too much fuss, but it gives tension nonetheless. So overall the experience with Makemytrip hadn't been too smooth but in the end all was well and that's what matters. Here too I said that I had not received the vouchers and I asked him to mail me all of that ..as without it we wouldn't even be able to stay in the hotel. Thankfully he immediately mailed me and I was relieved. Otherwise we would have been in too much mess at the wrong time- First time that we were travelling together alone.

After that was done, we went ahead. We finally stopped at a hotel around 4 to eat something. We hadn't eaten since morning so were quite hungry. We had dosa and then we went ahead. The roads there are too bad, I mean in terms of them having infinite turns on the hilly road. Left then right then left then right. That was the whole story. It can make anyone throw up and that is what exactly happened. So it is advisable to take some medicine prior; to prevent it. Soon after that we arrived at a spices plantation.
Spice plantations on way to Munnar

It was ok, nothing too extraordinary. Many of the things even we have at our own home growing. Just that you can buy original spices here if you are interested. That is an advantage of coming here.After that we reached the hotel after a very tiring day. We had been up from 5, travelling. 2 hours in a car, few hours in plane and again many hours (4-5) in the car. The hotel was good enough- Tea Castle Resort.
Tea Castle Resort- Our first hotel in Munnar

It was big enough and clean too. The mess you see in the pic is created by us. There was a television, option to make tea or coffee in room and bathroom was good enough. The only problem we faced was the hot water system was not working. We called them and it got repaired. So nothing major. The food facility there was good enough too. In the evening they also brought us cake and chocolates. The chocolates were good enough :) but the cake wasn't too great and since we had our food so late- around 4:30, we weren't really hungry and just had 2 pieces of the cake. At night we had a light dinner.
Tea Castle Resort from the outside

DAY 2

On the second day we woke up on time, had our breakfast which  was a buffet system. There were different types of food items and we could have whatever we wanted as much as we wanted and it was included in the cost. We got ready to leave by 9:30. On the way we stopped in front of the tea plantations for a few pics. There is really a lot of greenery there and lots of tea plantations.
Tea Plantations at Munnar

This was really the day with the most activity. After the tea plantations, the driver who was also our guide and photographer and adviser for everything suggested getting a massage. He took us to the place but we declined with some difficulty. Then we also stopped at a Rajasthani hotel for lunch which again was ok..not too great. Then we reached a Dam which had some good places around mainly for clicking pictures. 
Dam site

Just close to it there was another beautiful spot. There people offer to take pics of you together for around 40 Rs per photo which I think was worth it specially if it is just the couple travelling together. They would even suggest the poses and it would be good memory to have the photographs in the hard copy form.


Before this we also had an elephant ride which was quite enjoyable. You buy the ticket and wait for your turn. Then you get a ride around on the elephant for around 15 minutes. You also get to feed the elephant from your hand if you pay for the basket - 100 Rs. They will give you a basket of few jack-fruits to feed.

Elephant ride

Then we also went to a tea museum, which was nothing worth mentioning about. It has some details of the past, how it all started etc and they even show a movie regarding it there. It was too boring. I in fact fell asleep and many people left in between only!

We came out and waited for the driver who had gone for lunch. He also got late as there was a puncture which he got repaired. After that we went ahead and reached flower plantations. It was quite a big place and beautiful too with lots of flowers of different kinds.
Flower plantations

After that it was show time. We had already booked the tickets for Kathakali and Kalaripayattu- the martial arts form. I was much more interested in the latter. The show timings were in the evening.
Kathakali

Kathakali was all about the expressions and the story form. It wasn't all easy to understand but it was a bit interesting especially if watching for the first time.
Kalaripayattu- the martial arts form

After that it was the time for Kalaripayattu- the martial arts form. I had been waiting for it, but it took a long time to start. All of them would come one by one, bow down, light the lamp, touch the feet of their teacher and all that. Bowing down to the weapons. It is an important part but I could not wait for it to start. And it was amazing to say the least. It was as good as it gets. In real time, there were hardly any mistakes. There is no room for mistakes mind you. I felt the weapons and I can tell you, they are really heavy. And they use such force that it could easily hurt. It was easily one of the best parts of what we saw. Later on you can also go and pose there with the weapons etc which I gladly did, of course offering some money too.
After that we came back to the room and had dinner which was included in the cost and they also brought a candle with the dinner to room itself.

That was the end of the eventful second day.

DAY 3


The third day started in the morning with a trip to Thekkady which was again around a 4 hour drive from Munnar where we had been for 2 days. It again was a similar journey with continuous turns. We could even see other people ahead sometimes stopping and throwing up. It was a common site. We just slept through the journey as much as we could. Finally we reached the hotel and the driver woke us up. It was the advantage of having a good driver who knew all the routes and the exact locations. We never had to stop and ask for any directions. He also acted as our guide and photographer thus making it quite easy for us. We were too tired after the journey so just rested in the afternoon .


Michael's Inn at Thekkady


The hotel here was quite good too, except the hotel service where no one was coming for which I complained. But otherwise it was quite fine. After an afternoon nap, we went out in the evening for another elephant ride. After that it was time for the massage for which I had finally agreed on the insistence of the driver that after coming here, if you don't experience it, it is useless. So I went for it and it was a different experience. It had a face massage which felt good enough, then also head massage and body massage with oils and finally steam too so that the pores open and the oil can seep inside which would be good for health. Most of the time I had to ask the person to do it gently with lesser force. After that I walked back to my room and took a hot bath after an hour as asked. I did not know how I was feeling. It felt strange as though all muscles had relaxed so was also feeling kind of tired. I can't really say how I felt but the effect lasted a few days. There was one thing though. It was mentioned in the schedule that- Return to the hotel and find flower bed decoration in the room with a bottle of red wine which was not there but it was ok as didn't want that either.
That was the end of Day 3.

DAY 4


The fourth day was for the House boat. This included a drive to Allepey which seemed a different area in itself. People lived near a big stretch of water that seemed never ending. Finally we reached the spot and waited for some time.
House boat

We had reached there in the afternoon and soon had lunch. The lunch was quite good too which mainly included lots of rice, cabbage vegetable with lots of coconuts, one more vegetable, sambhar, curd etc. Again took rest after that in the afternoon. In the evening we saw a movie on the television there. Enjoyed it. For dinner we asked to have just fruits which they cut and brought for us nicely. Enjoyed it. Finally retired for the day. Next day morning we had to wake up early as we had a flight to catch. But when we woke up, we found  that there were lots of aggressive red ants all over. They had come on some little food that we had brought. So an important lesson- Preferably don't bring any food item on the houseboat. This is something that they should warn people about.We somehow packed the things even with the red ants and left for the airport. We reached Bengaluru airport and had to wait there the whole day as the flight timings had been changed. 

And finally we reached back thus bringing the journey to an end.



A Trip to Remember Slideshow: Achyut’s trip to Kerala, India was created by TripAdvisor. See another Kerala slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.

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