Kelly Dwight Hodo

kellyhodo

Kelly Dwight Hodo

Hi everyone! As Scott and I travel through Southeast Asia and India for our "extended honeymoon," we wanted to keep our friends and family up to date with our experiences and adventures. It is my hope that I'll be able to update this blog on a regular basis, so check in every now and then to see what we're up to! We look forward to sharing our stories with you in person upon our return, but, until then, the blog will have to do! We miss and love all of you!!

Kelly



Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaisalmer March 19th 2013

When we got off the train in Jaisalmer, the owner of the guest house we'd booked, Hotel Mirage, was waiting for us with a big smile and a sign that said "Kelly Hepo." In Agra, it was Hoda...Scott said I'd better get used to people butchering my name, haha. In any case, our new host introduced himself as Ba, paid for our rickshaw and accompanied us to Jaisalmer Fort, where the guest house was located. Though the Fort is quite old, it still functions like its own little neighborhood, with homes, hotels, and alleys lined with shops. Our driver dropped us off at the Fort's gate and Ba carried my heavy pack the rest of the way. He then showed us to our room, which was very nice, especially for only 250 rupees a night, and ... read more
Sunrise in the desert
Jaisalmer Fort
View from our guesthouse terrace

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra March 17th 2013

On the 7th, we woke up a little later than planned because Scott wasn't feeling well, ate breakfast on our hotel's rooftop (where we caught our last glimpse of the Taj), and caught a rickshaw to the public bus stand. Here, we waited in a dilapidated old bus for almost an hour before it finally departed for the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, about a two hour drive away. We arrived around 1:30 and ate lunch at a guesthouse that was kind enough to allow us to store our packs there while we toured the ruins, since we were only planning to be in town for a few hours before hopping on another bus bound for Jaipur. We began our tour at the Jama Masjid Mosque, which had no entry fee, but, as our guidebook warned ... read more
Panch Mahal
Buland Darwaza (Great Gate)
Muslim Girl

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra March 10th 2013

When our train pulled into the Agra station around 6:00 p.m., a rickshaw driver associated with the Pyrenees Homestay, which we’d booked through e-mail, was there waiting for us. He was very friendly and talkative during the ride, pointing out different sights as we passed them and asking us about ourselves, but when we reached our destination, which we were surprised to find was inconveniently located far from the Taj Mahal or Agra Fort, things began to take a turn for the worst. The owner, with whom I’d been exchanging pleasant e-mails over the past few days, was out, and his stand-in, a young guy with a serious attitude, was working the front desk instead. He immediately teamed up with our driver to pester us about hiring a rickshaw for a day, and, despite our efforts ... read more
Taj Mahal Gate
Taj Mahal
Just inside the gate

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram March 3rd 2013

We arrived in Mamallapuram (aka Mahabalipuram) after a two hour public bus ride from Pondicherry. We had some difficulty figuring out which bus to take, and I almost got in a fight with a man who was extremely rude to us for simply trying to ask for directions...The ride went smoothly, though, and we got there in the late afternoon. The town kind of reminded me of a smaller version of Hampi, in that its main attraction was a cluster of ancient ruins. These ruins, however, were much closer together, and were significantly fewer in number than in Hampi. Mamallapuram is known for it's impressive and intricate stone carvings, which can be seen in its ruins as well as its handicraft shops, where the tradition lives on. We had a good time exploring them and were ... read more
Krishna's Butter Ball (yes, that's the real name)
Monkeys
Stone carved cave

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Pondicherry March 3rd 2013

After a complicated but hassle-free journey involving a taxi, three rickshaws, two buses and a train, we arrived safely to the small, south-eastern ex French colony of Pondicherry (aka Puducherry). We checked into our cute, brightly decorated guesthouse, Le Reve Blue, run by a high-energy and eccentric French woman, and immediately went out to find some dinner. Due to some poor planning, neither of us had eaten anything substantial all day. We settled on a French/Indian restaurant with good food but, to our hungry stomachs' dismay, very slow service. Afterward, we made a water and snack run and stopped at a few pharmacies in search of some medicine to cure Scott's chronic sinus problems before returning to our guesthouse and going to bed. Though I have very few complaints about our room, I will say that ... read more
Church
Pondy Waterfront
Pondy Street

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kodaikanal March 2nd 2013

I’ll begin this post by saying we’ve officially been in India for a month! My how time flies! We made it to Kodaikanal, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu, a little after lunchtime. The owner of our guesthouse, B’s Hive, sent a taxi to pick us up, and we were dropped off and shown to our room. Not only did only did our room give us a wonderful view of the hills and valley, but, since it wasn’t occupied, we were upgraded to a bigger room with a bay window and a veranda for free! Unfortunately, this turned out to be pretty much the only form of “service” we received during our stay. We never officially met the owner, and the staff was rarely anywhere to be found; therefore, whenever we needed anything, like ... read more
Steep Alley
Our Bay Window
View near Pillar Rocks

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai February 24th 2013

As soon as we got off the train in Madurai, we were swarmed by rickshaw drivers (as usual) and very pushy beggars, one of whom inadvertently flashed us due to a poorly wrapped sari. We figured out that the hotel we'd booked wasn't terribly far away, so, despite the heat, we decided to walk. When we arrived at our prospective hotel, we were appalled by its dirty, run down state, as well as its jacked up prices, considering its website falsely advertised it as affordable and clean. Disappointed, we set out to find another hotel and settled on one nearby that, though still a bit pricey, was exponentially cleaner. After we checked in, we realized that it did have a few downsides, however, in that the beds were extraordinarily short with wide pillows, causing our ... read more
Street View
Rooftop View of Part of Meenakshi Temple
Elephant Giving Blessing

Asia » India » Kerala » Alleppey February 23rd 2013

On the 17th, we took an hour and a half long public bus ride from Kochi to the nearby backwater town of Alappuzha (aka Alleppey). We walked the short distance from the bus station to our guesthouse, the Palmy Residency, got settled in, grabbed some lunch, and signed up for a canal tour. Since we planned to only spend one night in Alappuzha, we attempted to check online for tickets for the night train to Madurai departing the following evening. When this proved unsuccessful, we took a rickshaw to the train station, where we found out the reservation office was closed. We decided we had no other choice but to wing it the next morning and hope there were taktal tickets (pricier, last minute tickets) available. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, then went ... read more
Our Canoe
Canal
Rice Paddies Bordering Canal

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi February 23rd 2013

We arrived in Kochi, a seaside city near the southern tip of India, at 6:00 a.m. after taking a train from Mysore to Bangalore followed by another overnight train. Drowsy after having gotten little sleep due to our cabin mates' late night noisy chats, we hailed a rickshaw to the peninsula of Fort Kochi where we'd booked a guesthouse called the Vintage Inn. Our host was very nice and accommodating, showing us promptly to our room (which was huge!) so we could get some sleep before going back downstairs to check in. We originally only planned to stay in Kochi for a few nights, but its clean, quiet neighborhoods and laid back atmosphere, as well as its vague resemblance to Charleston, made us want to stay longer. We really needed a break from the frequent train ... read more
Chinese Fishing Net
Bishop's House
Kochi Street

Asia » India » Karnataka » Mysore February 22nd 2013

We checked into the Chandra Palace Hotel (not as fancy as it sounds) around 8:00 a.m. on the 8th. Although the room was pretty big and fairly nice, we were informed that whoever had told us the price per night was misinformed, and the already overpriced room was actually more expensive than we'd been told. The staff there was also rather cranky, so we decided to stay one night then move to a much cheaper, though slightly smaller and grungier, place the next day. Unfortunately we realized that Mysore isn't the best place for tourist lodging, in that most hotels are filthy, overpriced, loud, and smell like smoke. We managed fine, though. After a post-overnight bus nap, we spent our first afternoon in the city touring Mysore's trademark Maharaja's Palace, once home to the 24th Wadiyar ... read more
Palace Gate
Sweet Shop
Chamundeswari Temple




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