I am back. And Alive. I caught a cold, but I believe was on the flight.. Let me just say that it was the most obnoxious 2 day flight/travel back EVER. It was a 6 hour flight from GOA to Chennai (I originally thought that i’d visit Chennai for a few days.. but heard that there was nothing special, so I booked a flight from GOA to Chennai, where my departure flight was..).. And in that 6 hour, we had 5 stops, that basically went down south to cochin, trivandrum.. a big U turn. (that’s all that was available) Then at Chennai airport, I waited 3 hours to catch my international flight. From Chennai, we flew to Singapore for a few hours, stopped in Singapore airport for about 3 hours.. then from Singapore to Tokyo was 4 hours.. waited in Tokyo for an hour. From Tokyo to LAX about 11 hours.. And throughout this whole flight change was 2 different Indian ladies with their couple month age baby that rotated in crying and making loud noises. In a perfect world, I would have thrown paper kites at them to SHUT UP. But there’s really nothing anyone can do.. I do believe that new airplanes should build a back section for babies ONLY with sound-proof glasses. I was in and out of sleep.. air conditioned to no air-con when we stopped.. and I believe that’s where I caught my fever/cold.
I will go to the doctor though Monday to get checked up (Don’t worry, Im concerned for your health too!) I landed about 11 am but waited in the plane for 35 minutes as the plane waited it’s turn for the walk way.. It’s about 3:30 pm now.. I’m waiting for my 2 loads of laundry.. just showered, and never felt better to be back in California!! And there’s not a better time to be back in California than when Spring comes.. and the day before daylight saving!!! It truly is the best place on earth! I could travel some more in India, had the itinerary changed to north.. but that will be saved for years later..
All in all, I’d say the trip was above average, cannot say it was all that I expected.. but I also had VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS since I’ve been thinking about this trip for years.. It was mainly for 2 reasons: The india i wanted to see was North.. and I definitely needed a travel companion.
Here was my itinerary in case any of you decide to go, and need inquiry:
Kerala state: Known for the backwater tours, which you can take from any of the following cities from city to city, or north city all the way down.. depending on the length you choose.. You can get a houseboat too which can cost 100-200$ overnight.. I thought 3 hours was enough.. You basically ride through the tropical river, stop by some villages to see their crafts and wave to locals.. see a local on his canoe making TODDY indian beer, by climbing up coconut trees for certain juices in it.. incredibly relaxing experience!
First 2 nights in COCHIN, KERALA at the Presidency Inn.. Famous for FORT COCHIN where the Chinese fishing nets are.. Dutch Palace, Jewish Street. You need no more than 2 days max here.
From there, I got a personal driver for 200$ 3 days, who was with me 7 am-10 pm, acted as a friend/body guard too.. so it was nice, his name is Tomas, if u want his info, ask me, he was the best.. Took about 5 hours or you can take a bus to THEKKADY.. where the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is.. It was very relaxing. Here you can take a whole day bamboo raft through the jungle, 1/3 day on the raft, 2/3 day hiking.. picnic with your crew.. I enjoyed the group I was with and got the start of my tan here. There I saw some Elephants, and deers.. Here I stayed at Tranquilo Homestay.. about 24$ a night.. which is pretty pricy, and you can find cheaper for 10$.. but the people were incredibly friendly! In Thekkady.. i also did an evening walk through the forest for 3 hours.. saw some deers, flying squirrel.. nothing too special.
Then a 4 hour ride to Ama’s ashram.. near Kollam.. You can also take a backwater from Cochin down to here.. for 4$ a night, you get a stay, and 3 meals a deal.. but go only if you are serious about meditating.. Its nice to go and just check out for a night or two, and look around, it lies on the arabian sea, with the backwater river perpendicular to it.. so its quite a special location, with many interesting people who have come to stay.. perhaps forever. I stayed there a night. I had to be honest to myself, that I just couldn’t meditate.. (id rather go running outside for a peace of mind)
The next morning, I took the backwater around 3 pm down to Kollam.. It’s suppose to be beautiful there as well, good beach.. But I took a taxi to Varkala beach, which took 30 minutes.. I stayed in Varkala for 3 nights at Kerala Bamboo house.. If you are looking for a beach experience in South India.. its worth going to relax for a few nights… (but I personally just don’t see the point in going to India, for the beaches.. there’s better places if you are looking for a beach resort..)
From Varkala, took a rickshaw to the local train station, and took the train 2 hours down to Trivandrum.. I stayed at a school there, owned by Dr. Reghu.. They accept people to stay there if you volunteer, or are part of Servas. Some people from there go down to Kovalam beach. I was there in Trivandrum for 1 night (as soon as I got bored of one place, I hopped on to the next.. that was the perk of traveling alone)
From Trivandrum I flew to Varanassi for 2 nights.. which was very time-consuming and cost-consuming for me.. but I had to squeeze at least 1 northern city in and was the highlight of my trip. In Varanassi, I stayed at Schindia Guest House… for about 1000 rupees, 25$ a night.. There are far cheaper ones.. but this is a prime location, up high about 4 floors, from our balcony we could see where most the action of Ganges river was happening… The guy that works front desk is a MAJOR PRICK though. I was very unsatisfied with his smart ass replies.. He must have been abused as a child, and is now taking it out on the world.
Then I flew to Mumbai/Bombay.. Its worth taking 2 nights there to see India’s rich city.. 1 guy said to me.. Everything you hear about India is true.. and opposite is true as well.. The Rich here are richer than most people on this planet.. and in Bombay, you will find that.. as well as savvy restaurants, night life.. and sophisticated, educated people.. It looked a lot to me like Taiwan.. most people living in apartment/condo flats, high rises.. and if I had more time, I woulda been in an extra in Bollywood film as I heard from many other people they were offering roles!! hahaha.
From Bombay, I flew to GOA for about 80$. I first went to BAGA/Calangute, which during the day is very crappy, overly packed with sunbeds, middle age to old travelers on a resort.. completely claustrophobic.. however the nightlife is happening in BAGA and VAGATOR (where the Russians and Israeli young boys take over.. infamous for raves).. I stayed 2 nights in Anjuna beach.. it was an ok beach.. all of these beaches in GOA are fun for the beachfront restaurants and beers to drink all day.. Palolem was my favorite.. Cleanest beach.. and very unique.. the sand surrounded the beach in an O shape.. and I took a boat ride to spot dolphins and actually did see some dolphins doing jumps!! You can also land in Butterfly beach with the boat, but I was running out of time..
I hear AGANDA beach is very clean, nice, and secluded with very few travelers.. and the travelers there are the backpackers sick of the night life.. I wouldn’t say GOA should be known for beautiful beaches compared to some Caribbean beaches.. and the clubs weren’t all that.. but it’s just the craziness and I’d say the highlight of GOA is the massive hippies.. all age, from 19 to 80 (the true hippies from back in 60’s).. Major raves.. major drugs.. LSD, Acid, Coke, Manali Hash and Alcohol to say the least..
That’s my dissertation.. off to a pedicure!!!