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 wanted 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 wanted to see as much of the country as possible I thought 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.
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.
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) was in India and actually very close to where I was and 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.
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.
Some playing at dusk
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.
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.
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…