Sep 21, 2011

Cochin--Part 2: The Fort

Ferry to Vypeen Island
The city of Kochi (aka Cochin) is actually sprawled across the mainland suburb of Ernakulum, the peninsular suburbs of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry as well as across the 5 other islands of Vypeen, Vallarpadam, Willingdon, Bolgatty, and Gundu. Frequent ferry services run across the lake between the mainland, the peninsula and the first 2 islands, and bridges also connect all of them although it can be a much slower option at times.  It’s a huge sprawl and traffic is a nightmare.  Everyone who comes to Kerala usually love Kochi but it’s difficult when you first arrive to see what all the fuss is about.

Sep 19, 2011

Kochi (Cochin)--Part I: The Backwaters

When you speak about South India, Kerala usually emerges as the favourite on everyone’s list—in fact, it’s the second most visited state in India.  While it is one of India’s most beautiful and successful states and where women are more empowered than elsewhere in the country, for tourists it’s synonymous with the ‘backwaters’.  And in turn, the backwaters are synonymous with the city of Cochin and to a lesser degree, Alleppey.

Locals on the backwater

Sep 13, 2011

Precariously Perched Varkala

When we first read about Varkala, on the southwest coast of India on the Arabian Sea—it sounded intriguing.  Yet it made us wary at the same time.  It was described as a ‘backpacker scene’, which usually can mean crowds, difficulty finding accommodation and in general, touristy.  But as it was only 30min by train from Trivandrum and on our way northward, we set aside 2 nights to check it out.  It turned out to be one of the most unique seaside places that we’ve ever experienced.

Sep 11, 2011

An Oldie But A Goodie--Trivandum Zoo

When we read that Thiruvananthapuram (aka Trivandum) had one of the most impressive zoos in India, we made sure to include a stop in this capital city of the state of Kerala.  And the best part was that it was even on our way!  We haven’t been to a zoo since DusitZoo in Bangkok (Thailand) and the girls were so excited.   Surprisingly it turned out to be one of the best experiences of its kind that we’ve had.

Sep 8, 2011

The End of India

The end of the sub-continent of India

We’ve finally arrived at the end of India—literally.  If you were to look at a map, you’d be able to pinpoint precisely where we are—Cape Comorin to be exact, the most southern point in India, where 3 bodies of water meet: the Bay of Bengal (east), the Indian Ocean (south) and the Arabian Sea (west).  And like many of the places what we’ve visited so far in South India, we found it to be a strangely interesting place.

Sep 2, 2011

Suckers For A View: Madurai

Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, viewed from our balcony
As we have alluded to many times before, often times the quality of our accommodation can make all the difference to the length of our stay.  By quality we don’t mean that it has to be 5-star luxury (come on, we’re backpacking on a budget!), although if someone were to offer that to us at 1-2 star prices, that would be great!  A clean, insect-free room is a good starting point.  Add a good sized room, preferably with a bed that all of us can fit on, an en-suite big enough to have a shower in without needing to sit on the toilet at the same time, and now we’re talking.  Extras like a small table and chair, a window or two or even better yet, a balcony with a view, and we might just stay a while.  Oh, and air conditioning is a must too.  We’ve been lucky quite a few times on our trip so far, with memorable accommodation in Sanur and Amed (Bali), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Siem Reap and Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Mui Ne and Cat Ba Island (Vietnam), Pagapud (Philippines), and in Trinco and Arugam Bay (Sri Lanka) as well as in Mamallapuram and Kodaikanal (India).  And we got lucky again in Madurai, and ended up staying longer than originally intended.