Last stop in India - banana leaf thali country

Trip Start Sep 10, 2010
Trip End Feb 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
grand central hotel

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Thursday, October 14, 2010

As our last day in India draws to a close, our excitement about travelling on to Kuala Lumpar mounts.

After the ten days resting up in Varkala, the journey down to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, it felt as if we were at the end of a holiday and about to return home. We had gotten so accustomed the packing and unpacking every other day that the long period of doing almost no travelling felt weird to us.

As for the capital, it’s a fine city which we really enjoy. We are staying at the Grand Central hotel which use dot be a Comfort Inn and its pretty good - location is great as its on the main city street and there are loads of restaurants, shops and transport links right outside the door. The city itself is the home of a quite unique style temple, know as Padmanabhaswamy which is built in the Dravidian style, most commonly found in Tamil Nadu rather than Kerala. As with all Hindu temples, we are not allowed inside and unfortunately the outside is currently covered in green tarpaulin as it undergoes extensive renovations. However, we were allowed into the Malka Palace next door which was the home of the last Maharaja of Kerala. Fascinating building though we were not allowed to take photos inside - when someone asked if there was a guide book he was told to check Google and he could download photos from there.

Best fun here is the Chalai Bazaar, a maze of street selling everything from gold, to flowers, material, snacks and plastic buckets. We wandered through two days running and bought some brass oil lamps which were added to collection of purchases and shipped back to London. The shipping itself if not easy - the post office here do not sell boxes for international shipments, and none of the stationary stores we visited had any either. Eventually someone recommended we got to a medical shop as they had deliveries today, and luckily we found a box. The post office is like a rugby scrum - one habit we Brits did not leave when India gained independence was the ability to form an orderly queue. So after elbowing a few Q jumpers out the way we managed to send our “stuff” back to London. With the souvenirs gone, the plan is also to leave the Indian travel books behind in the hotel when we leave tomorrow our back packs are now about 5kg lighter - doesn’t sound a lot but in 35 degrees of heat, walking with no pavements and getting in and out of auto rickshaws, I can tell you that 5kg less is a god send.

The food here is a little dull - main things we have eaten are Thali which is basically a load of rice with up to ten different pickles, curries and yoghurts - and whilst at first the are exciting, especially when served on banana leave, in the end you crave something less “ricey” and more substantial. Mind you, at around 1:00 for two of us, it certainly helps keep us well within our budget.

Tomorrow we leave at 6am for the airport, its not far but we were just checking our flight timings and it looks like we may have as top en route as we leave here at 8:30am and don’t arrive into Kuala Lumpar until 15:00 local time, so we think we are missing a couple of hours somewhere. Guess we will find out tomorrow J

We have had fun in India - its been interesting and frustrating in equal measures, but we are glad that we came here and will take away many fond memories. Perhaps our favourite place was Udaipur - the location is stunning, the people terrific and watching Octopussy on a roof top overlooking the palaces where the film was shot was something we never imagined experiencing. Gorakhpur, with its open sewers, filthy hotels, heat and cockroaches was very definitely the low point. But right up there in terms of relaxing, chilling our and recharging our batteries was Verkala - the yoga and ayurvedic treatments were wonderful, the monsoon rain was, at time, vile.

So, onwards to Asia proper, Kuala Lumpar, get ready for us……..
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