They say that India is an assault on the senses. I would have to agree. From the noise to the heat to the smells of spices, blocked drains and litter, to the colour and chaos of the towns, shops and people, it both excites and exhausts at the same time.
Having learnt our lesson from our last trip to Asia where we carried too much luggage and tried to do too much, we travelled with hand luggage and were determined to take it steady over the three weeks we had available. Even with this goal in mind, we still managed to fit in quite a lot. Highlights include:
- Paddling out to sea at first light in search of dolphins – and finding them. Lots of them!
- Chilling out on the beaches of Varkala in Kerala and Palolem in Goa, where the toughest decision to make is which restaurant to eat at.
- Trekking through tea plantations and up a mountain to experience breath-taking views over Munnar.
- Floating down Alleppey’s backwaters on a canoe, past people’s homes and rice paddy fields, and through canals that were carpeted with African moss. There was barely a sound, save for our captain’s oar rhythmically punctuating the water. It was serene, peaceful and beautiful.
- Experiencing a somewhat erotic massage where “full-body’ meant FULL body and whilst rather vigorously rubbing the massage oil into my thighs, the (female) masseur’s finger accidentally (i hope) entered part of my anatomy that no finger ever should *queue horrified gasp from me*
- Watching a Kathakali performance in Cochin: a dramatised Hindu play, as old an art form as Shakespeare’s plays where actors tell the story through precise facial expressions, hand movements and brightly coloured faces.
- Eating some of the best curries we have ever tasted, including a Keralan Molly, Goan Fish Curry and the lightest, most fluffy, mouth-watering naan and chapatis! Curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
- Surviving crazy driving by bus, taxi and tuktuk drivers that usually involved overtaking on blind corners at high speed!
It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to visit India and it did not disappoint. As the Indian tourist board is so fond of telling us, it is not just India but “Incredible India” and in many ways they are absolutely correct.
But it is also a nation of huge contradictions: for all the poverty, there are vast pockets of wealth; for all the natural beauty there are monstrous buildings and litter, litter everywhere; for all the fabulous curries, there is “Delhi Belly” (which somehow I miraculously escaped). It’s a fascinating place and somewhere we hope to explore in much more detail at some point again in the near future.
It all combined to create a holiday that was exciting, interesting, relaxing and beautiful. It is going to take something very special to beat it!