Travels of South India
Of course when you first tell anyone that you are going to India the first thing that they tell you is to take a lot of Imodium (the likelihood of getting Delhi Belly is normally above 90%). The second thing they tell you is to avoid meat as much as possible and to NOT drink the water. The final warning from friends and family was that as a westerner you will be treated like a celebrity and we should be ready to actively take photos with every Indian in sight (This sounded quite fun). Other than these seeds of advice, packing several hand sanitisers, my passport and my rupees in my hand, Katie and I were off to India to meet up with seven of our other friends that were already in Kannur, Kerala (Our friend’s home town).
Below: Katie enjoying the Emirates meals with a glass of Red wine in hand.
Eight Oxford Brookes University friends and I embarked on a trip to visit our friend in Kannur, Kerala. Our friend had kindly invited us to his sister’s wedding which we were all excited to experience.
An Interesting Driving System
After arriving in Bangalore, we were kindly collected by our kind driver man, Sujith. Little did we know what we had in stall for us when jumping in the car to start the seven hour journey down to Kannur, Kerala.
Shall we just say that the driving system and lane discipline is completely ignored, cars/scooters/lorries/buses drive where they want. At the start of the journey we were driving extremely close to everything on the road, overtaking buses on blind corners and simply driving in the middle of the road. It is safe to say that Sujith was a very experienced driver and safely drove us to our destination with only a few near death experiences.
Kerala: Dressing the Part
As Katie and I had learnt early in our trip, it was important for women to dress respectively. We quickly learnt that still within the traditional areas of India (Including Kerala) women still wear saris daily and men wear mundus (which is a piece of fabric worn around the waist similar to a sarong).
Saris are made from a piece of hand-woven cloth which is wrapped around the body. Our friend’s parents were kind enough to buy us our beautiful saris which we all wore to the wedding a few days after purchasing.
The amazing Henna we got professionally done before the wedding…. it took hours!!
Below: Katie, Bella and I posing with our lovely Indian lady who helped us fit our saris on the wedding day.
Below: The girls wearing a lovely saris and the boys wearing the mundus with the beautiful Bride and Groom.
After the wedding we caught an overnight train to Calangute, Goa.
Goa, is a western state of India, renowned for its laid-back hippie vibes, amazing beaches and fishing villages. It has a long history as a Portuguese colony prior 1961 and this is shown by the incredible Portuguese architecture and the tropical spice plantations seen across Goa.
We stayed in a villa near Calangute Beach and due to it being towards the end India’s rainy season, we were fortunate to miss the tourist high season in Goa’s which is typically November through to March. During this period, Goa is a well known known for being full of western party goers. I would highly recommend to go at the time we went (End of September) as you miss the majority of heavy rain (likely to get a little drenched some days but it is quite refreshing from the sweatingly hot day to day weather) and the really busy season in Goa.
For all of you looking for some great little market type shops to find the perfect Indian gifts for friends and family (and of course for yourself!), Goa is the perfect place to get these gifts. I got some gorgeous harem trousers, linen embellished tops, beautifully decorated paper mache elephants and of course the typical tourist Goan T-Shirts.
Below: Kingfisher Beer (Lager brewed in Bangalore) on Arambol beach
The only piece of advice that I would give you is to be extra careful when hiring scooters out in Goa. I was super excited of the idea of driving a scooters around Goa with the wind in my hair, until I was told by my overprotective friend that I was NOT allowed to drive a scooter.
Unfortunately a day later whilst we were driving towards Arambol beach we saw a horrible crash where a tourist had collided with van and the man on the scooter had gone face through the windscreen. The locals were so helpful and surrounded this poor man to try and save his life. It is safe to say that we are not sure whether the man lived but definitely put me off the idea of scooting for a long time and I will always remind friends and family to be extra careful driving on scooters or cars when in foreign countries.
The Fast track to Fame
As most people worn you as a westerner wearing western clothes you will be often approached by locals to ask to take photos/selfies and they will likely want to touch your blonde hair for good luck. I almost did not believe that people would be so amazed by our appearance. However, throughout the whole trip we were constantly stared at and asked for photos by nearly everyone that we passed. At first it was very flattering and we could not help but slightly love the attention and feel a little like a celebrity. On the other side, once you have committed to taking a picture with one person a whole flock of people will arrive with cameras and phones to get a picture with a westerner which can be a little pain when trying to get somewhere on time. Not sure that I would be made for the whole celebrity sort of lifestyle as after a couple of photos started to get a little bit annoyed.
Below: Katie with a local Goan man.
The Amazing Food
Personally not being a particular curry lover, it was fair to say that I was a little worried about how I was going to react to the food and whether my stomach would not agree with the different types of food.
Early on in the trip we realised that not only curry was a dinner option but was a food eaten at breakfast, lunch and diner and therefore had little option but learn to love it.
Safe to say the food was incredible, from the breakfast Dosa (Indian Pancakes full with curry), beautiful fresh fish, amazing Paratha breads, to the perfectly seasoned spicy curries.
My particular favourite was a dish called Dragon Chicken which is a delicious Indo-Chinese recipe widely used around the South of India. The chicken is a vibrant red colour and is marinated in garlic, chilli flakes, egg whites, tomato sauce and soy sauce. Incredible to eat with rice or Naan bread and I would definitely highly recommend.
Finally we arrived at our final stop in Bangalore where we stayed in the lovely Iris Business hotel in the city centre. The staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming throughout our stay.
Below: Katie and I posing with the lovely doorman from the Iris Business hotel.
I enjoyed our stay in Bangalore, it was short but sweet. As one of the metropolitan cities of India it was interesting to see the differences between the traditional area of Kannur, Kerala in comparison to the westernised city of Bangalore. The air was extremely polluted which made it very difficult to breath but was expected when we arrived.
One evening we visited an area of Bangalore called, Indiranagar, which is an up and coming ‘cool’ area of Bangalore and is compared to the Shoreditch of London. This area had many large electronic stores alongside large bars and restaurants. I can’t say that Bangalore was my favourite part of my trip as I quite enjoyed the slower moving rural areas in Kerala and Goa but it is definitely a good city to visit.
In my opinion, India is an incredible and diverse country. Despite its many known dangers that it withholds, it’s also one of the most amazing, diverse and colourful places I have ever been to, and strongly advise anyone to visit the country. I am sure that my small experience within the two weeks that we spent there is only a small slice of the amazing experiences that India has to offer but I am sure that I will return to further my travels in India.
There are also some further images listed below, please comment or email me about some of your indian stories I would love to hear all about them 🙂 xo