India, the 2nd most populous country and more than a 100 languages spoken. My only knowledge of India is through movies or stories heard from my friends. I never thought that i will travel to India but i did. This trip included my mum and my sis. It was the first time for the 3 of us.
2 & 3 Jan 2010 We reached Trivandrum at about 8pm. When we stepped out of the airport, it was dark. The only lights were from the airport. We located our driver who drove us through the dark streets with only the headlight guiding him. Occasionally, we got a glimpse of some locals walking in the dark.
Those who have been to India knows how the drivers are with the constant horn and expert swirling to avoid the many potholes.
Our hotel in Trivandrum was at Mascot Hotel. It is a huge hotel and a previously an officer mass. Our room was huge with a separate area for the wardrobe and the bathroom was even bigger or probably the biggest i have seen.
Basically, in trivandrum, most of the time was spent buying clothes and a little sight seeing. The Indian Traditional Clothing is very very cheap compared to what we pay back in Singapore. The roads were usually jammed and the bus overflowing with passengers. There was always an policeman to navigate the traffic but it appears to be of no use. The locals cross the road like its empty of vehicles. This is the real deal in India and strangely i am liking it. Life appears to be very slow moving compared to Singapore. It does get frustrating especially in restaurants whereby the service is very slow and there is no point in getting worked up as this is India. I only saw a few beggars in Trivandrum or and the other parts and they were pretty harmless unlike those in Delhi whereby they come up and knock on your window screen. Money is everything over here and pretty much talks. Knowing that we are tourists, the drivers are always ready to quote us ridiculous prices for a short trip. On our first day itself, we went prepared and were able to negotiate our price. Food in Kerala is so delicious that i usually go for my 2nd and 3rd round. Their fish is exceptionally good.
4 & 5 Jan 2010 Our next stop is Alleppey. We booked a car to fetch us from Trivandrum to Alleppey where we will be dropped off at one of the many agencies who provide stays at the houseboat which is big business in Alleppey. The journey took about 3 hours. We passed jungles, villages, small cities and finally were dropped at the agency. We had a small problem with the driver as he wanted more money than we initially agreed on as he claimed that he had wasted petrol when we were lost. I sought the help of the owner who managed to chase away the driver. Never give in to their price fixing methods!!
It was a short drive from the agency to the "holding area" which is basically where the houseboats were docked. Another rep, Charco, was a very nice guy who showed us around the houseboat which is a 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom. We settled for the 2 bedroom houseboat, with a little bargaining.
Our House Boat docked off around 12 noon. It cruised smoothly through the canals. We got a glimpse of the villagers' lives. Some were bathing in the river, children playing, housewives doing laundry. It was really nice to sit back and watch them go about their daily lives. We spent one night in the houseboat with basic facilities. Rooms were air conditioned and during night time, it was docked at a village. We woke up bright and early the next morning and i was just in time to catch sunrise. Nice!! We started our final journey towards mainland. This time, the breeze was cool and kids were all getting ready for school. Our stay in Alleppey has ended. This particular stay was unique in the sense that there were no shopping or sight seeing, all our time was spent in the houseboat.
5 to 7 Jan 2010 Our next stop was at Cochin. Our hotel was at Bolgatty Palace. To access this hotel, one needs to take a boat to the hotel as its on an island. Bolgatty palace was nice, room was huge and so was the toilet. We had a balcony but there were works going on outside so we didn't open the door. Also we noticed that this area was infested with mosquitoes. Not a big problem for us as we didn't venture out to the sea much. On our first day, we went shopping on mainland. The hotel has a private boat which they will send hotel guest to the mainland free of charge. The man incharge was a very friendly guy but cant remember his name though. Things are cheap here. Indian traditional clothings were really grand and the prices were very low. Sightseeing was spent the next day at Cochin where we visited the chinese fishing nets, church, spice market etc. We got a auto which we alrdy settled on the price and the driver was the tour guide and spoke basic english.