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I left Myanmar in typical me fashion by having to take a cab from the Indian embassy in Yangon where my India visa was BARELY given on time (as I had applied 2 days before) and I had to rush straight to the airport! I had a connecting flight in Malaysia which worried me a little, as I had tried to go to Malaysia earlier in the trip and found out that Colombians are not very liked there as they informed me that I could only apply for my visa FROM Colombia.
That being said, when I bought my ticket the cheapest option was through Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia), but I checked that if you are there for 24 hours or less you are in transit and don’t need a visa, so I went with that option (although I wasn’t sure what was going to happen).

HOWEVER, when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur and had to collect my luggage (backpack) and check it for my flight to India, I kept getting told to go to different lines at immigration until someone informed me that since I had no visa for Malaysia, I wasn’t allowed to go to the luggage belt to collect my luggage, and that I’d have to travel without my luggage and claim it when I arrived in India. As there wasn’t much I could do about it, that’s just what I did.

When going to India I had no idea where to start, so I thought going South to North might make sense since I want to go to Nepal afterwards. When I was searching for the cheapest flight to India from Myanmar and figured Mumbai (aka Bombay) would be the cheapest, but then I saw the cheapest options to Mumbai had a layover in Kochi aka Cochin, I looked on the map and saw that it was in the southwest of India, and since I want to see was much of the country it was a perfect place to start.

I arrived in Cochin without knowing anything about it, but VERY excited to finally be going to India!  On the flight the person next to me was a nice British girl who had been to India before and began a trend I learned, when she asked me “First time to India?” and it has become a common question, as MOST of the travelers I have met have come one, or several times, which is a good sign!

When I first arrived in Kochi I arrived without luggage and without sleep from spending the night at the Kuala Lumpur airport, so when I arrived in Kochi I found a place to stay by the airport to wait for my backpack to catch up with me, and get some sleep. After it arrived the next day I took the bus into the city and to Fort Cochi.

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My backpack when it arrived a day after me at the Kochi airport. These nice guys were helping me through customs, etc

Fort Cochi is an area where there are old Chinese fishing nets and a dirty beach, but it is pleasant and is near the famous Backwaters, which I visited one day and took a boat ride around which was absolutely beautiful.

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The famous and beautiful Kerala backwaters
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This was my lunch one day…rice and curries on a banana leaf..to be eaten by hand of course!

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Beautiful and peaceful
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This delicious meal of Appam (rice pancake) and curry and snacks cost around 60 cents
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Some of my first friends in India…John, a Canadian musician and his girlfriend here are teaching me about different Indian food on some restaurant photos
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While in Fort Kochi, I went to a performance of Kathakali, an Indian performance that was beautiful.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathakali
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One night I stumbled upon this celebration with lots of colors and massive elephants

 

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Some friends I met playing football with
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Spectacular trees in Fort Kochi

After a few days in Kochi, I was checking out of my guesthouse ready to head to Varkala, a beach town the girl on the airplane recommended, when my friend Stephen and Susanna (that I met in Indonesia and got to see in Hanoi when I was there) sent me a message telling me that Susanna´s mom, Lucciana, whom I met in Hanoi as we were both visiting Hanoi at the same time, was in India and actually very close to where I was doing some social work in a nearby village. They suggested I go, and this sounded interesting indeed so off I went!

I spent around 4-5 days in a village, Kurumassery,  seeing some of the work they do helping around 200 families with their education and medical expenses, etc. It was beautiful to meet so many local people, and especially the kids whom I spent most of my time playing with.

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One day we went to a hospital and there was some sort of protocol thing going on, and luckily I had my mini football and started a game in this room with some kids. Fun
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One day with Luciana, we walked around and lots of people invited us into their homes and showed us different things in the village. A very hard thing to see was a family that asked to come into their home to see a man who was sick looked like he was seconds away from passing away…

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My friend Luciana, and also the mother of my friend Susanna with a nice village woman. Luciana, just like her daughter, is an amazing person.

On the plane to India the girl sitting next to me mentioned Varkala, and recommended so down I went to it. It is a beach town that is famous for its beach that many religious Indians go to to cleanse themselves from their sins. It has also become famous for yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices.)

After arriving not knowing how long I would stay, I almost left too early in the desire to go see other things. However, I am glad I just took it easy and ended up spending 2 weeks there loving life.

While I was there I treated myself to an Ayurvedic massage, spent many hours every day playing football, playing volleyball, juggling, tossing a frisbee, practicing handstands, doing some yoga and meditation, reading, and meeting people on the beach. The evening we would meet up for dinner for nice meals and conversation and sometimes to the bars.

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On the train to Varkala, that took around 6 hours and cost less than a dollar
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My breakfast one day, and of course eating with my hands as is done in India.
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Picture by Sara Petersson, of the Varkala cliff where the restaurants and guesthouses are overlooking the beach and ocean
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Me teaching our friend Malin how to do a handstand, like my friend Joey taught me a few months ago
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My friend Or and I learning how to do this type of two person juggling
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My good friend Shohreh
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Two of the finest souls around, my partners in crime Amela and Shohreh
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Some acro-yoga on the beach
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Amela giving Or some pointers in yoga

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Some playing at dusk

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On my one year anniversary of starting the trip I had the pleasure of dining with these friends.
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Some of the dogs I played with and frisbee I played with
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A mural in Varkala of a character in costume from the Kathakali performances
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My mini-football I have had since Thailand that my very good friend Tabea gave me. It is sadly falling apart! It has provided hours of entertainment and allowed me to meet lots of nice people who come over to play.
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Most of our Varkala crew one night out to dinner….really great people
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Puttu…breakfast. Like a rice powder you can mix with things. Here with banana and milk
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We spent lots of time juggling my mini ball
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In the south of India little girls are adorned with make up like this lil beautiful girl…I don´t like the idea of girls wearing make up, but it definitely looks interesting.
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Enjoying some Bananoffee…amazing dessert on my one year of the trip anniversary
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Dosala masa….awesome bread with potato curry inside and sauces
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Some of my first and lovely friends in Varkala
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I was able to participate in 2 Clean up days in Varkala where a big group of us went around picking up the rubbish that sadly is littered in many places
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The beautiful and peaceful Varkala beach

Although it was hard to pull myself away from Varkala, I left one day on my own, but met some nice travelers at the train station heading to Munnar and I was heading to Kumily. At the half way point, I ran into Tal and Shaked, two nice Israeli girls I had met in Varkala who were also headed to Munnar…After some thought, I changed my plans on the way, and decided to go to Munnar with my new friends.

Munnar town is surrounded by absolutely gorgeous tea plantations and beautiful nature and landscapes that we explored for 3 days with our new friend, Sami, a really friendly Rickshaw driver who would take us to some great locations for us to go off and explore.

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Tal and Shaked from Israel that I had met in Varkala a few days before, and then ran into on the way to Munnar. Here in some beautiful tea plantations.

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We stopped to see some elephants and loved seeing this one eating pineapples.

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Sami, our friend and tuk-tuk driver who took us around for a few days, here showing us and explaining the tea leaf where the very top one is the white tea leaf, then the green tea leaf,  then black tea, and 2 different leaves used to make powdered tea.

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My friend Amanda drawing
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A waterfall we visited one day around Munnar and swam in

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Some tea I enjoyed in the tea fields

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THUG LIFE…just like me 😉
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Some tea

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Tea pickers at a tea plantation

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My lovely company for a few days
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Tea leaf and tea flower
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My friends Tal and Shaked were obsessed with a card game called Cabo, that we played and had fun with for a few days
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I love how there were many different shades of green…brighter on the top and darker on the inside.

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This tea picker was very friendly and photogenic

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From Munnar, we took around 10 hours of local buses (sometimes lying down because there was so much space, and sometimes standing and packed in because so many people)  to make it to Kodaikanal, another hilltop town surrounded by beautiful mountains and views.

After spending the first 2 nights in the town, which was fine, we luckily made it to a recommended hostel that was very peaceful and had stunning views.

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A hindu temple in Munnar. I loved that in Munnar from the same spot you could see a Mosque, a Church, and a Hindu Temple.
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My friends Shaked and Tal asked me to write what I have written on my backpack, PLEASE LIVE YOUR DREAM! It makes me happy to see the message on their backpacks!
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View from an amazing guesthouse I stayed in at Kodaikanal and met some great people
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Throughout south east asia I have seen some of this street artists work, which I dig…he does murals and drawings of teeth…sometimes with an eye
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Israeli influence on me led me to try  Shakshuka which I now love. Funny enough that day we trekked from Kodaikanal and passed a village called Vatakanal, that people describe as little Israel because so many israelis go there.
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One of Amanda’s beautiful sketches
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One night these crazy ladies decided we should make salad for dinner and here we are making it in our room
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Some nice guys in Kodaikanal
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Sadly there is a lot of advertising that upsets me in India where the people have very light or fair skin, which I think is not representative of the people of India. I’ve seen this throughout south east asia and unfortunately you see lots of skin whitening and bleaching products and almost all of the faces you see on television, movies and advertising DO NOT look like the people there. I think this promotes a sense of self loathing and promotes and celebrates lighter skin…sad!
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View from a hike we did to Pillar Rock, around Kodaikanal.
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After having repaired my hiking sandals many times with Super/Crazy glue the last few months, here I had a man on the street give them some more proper repairs.
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we took public buses from Munnar to Kodaikanal, which took around 10 hours and on one of the breaks we stumbled upon these “wild” horses running around garbage and a lake and would sometimes go into the street as cars were passing.
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At this train station I saw this man lying here and got close to see he was not moving or breathing. Hard to see this…with people walking around him at the waiting area.
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A beautiful urinal at the bus station…with condom floating around and everything!
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Luxury traveling
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Thali or Meals, is something you can order at many places where you get all you can eat rice and sauces or curries that is cheap, filing, and you eat with your hands normally. Here with spoon

After a month in Southern India I got myself a ticket to visit Sri Lanka, for a month, and then I will continue traveling India from South to North. So far I have loved India. I have also been in the south, that some people say is a soft introduction to India, as it is not as busy and crazy as the north. So far the food and people have been lovely and seeing some strong contrasts between beautiful things you see and smell and feel, and some awful things you see and smell and feel. (Like dead people amongst a train station, or the smell of burning garbage that is like the perfume of this beautiful lady).

I also have been getting back into yoga, and doing more meditation and trying to use the spirituality and energy of the people in and visiting India to make positive changes I want in my life…

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