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Traveller norms

A list from our first week in India

31 °C
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We've been thinking this afternoon about this little things which we've noticed since entering India with our backpacks. The things we don't go into detail about in our other blog posts because they could go on forever.

Here is our lists of memorable moments/thing to expect when backpacking India...

1. "Ricksaw?" "Ricksaw?!" "RICKSHAW?!!"

2. You will always pay more than the locals, and a hefty amount more than other travellers unless you are prepared to haggle!

3. Prepare to be begged by poor folk

4. Dan is covered in insect bites and Amiee has a heat rash that no amount of piriteze will budge

5. We have long lunches in shaded cafes every day to get out of the heat

6. Many of the beaches in religious towns are not for sunbathing - and there is a serious lack of swimming pools - prepare to fry.

7. You are treated like a celebrity by many adults and nearly all children. They shout HI, HOW ARE YOU?, WHAT IS YOUR NAME? and WHERE FROM? at every opportunity. And they scream the names of Bollywood actors you apparently look just like..

8. We have become experts of dodging out of the way of moving traffic.

9. Our feet are constantly black and no number of freezing cold showers makes us feel clean.

10. Amiee keeps getting very close to dreadlocks. It took her 1 hour tonight to get the knots out of her hair

11. When hanging our hand washed clothes out to dry - we found some spiders lurking within! And saw our first few wild snakes in Alleppey!

12. Indians will do anything to make some money - but they also respect a firm NO and someone who refuses to be ripped off.

13. They are also very impatient people - orderly queues do not exist. And you have to keep reminding yourself that Indians do not say thank you!

14. But once making eye contact - they give you the warmest of smiles :)

15. We are getting used to sharing our rooms with lizards

16. It is polite to take your shoes off when entering a home, shop or place of worship

17. We are no longer phased by the dogs, cats, goats and chickens roaming the street. Nor the sound of prayer at ungodly hours

18. Although all Indians' favourite sport is cricket, they know a surprising number of English football players and teams

19. Yesterday we chanced in for a place to stay for the first time since arriving. Although wondering around viewing rooms whilst carrying our heavy backpacks was really tiring in the heat, we had plenty of offers to choose from

20. After convincing ourselves we would go vegetarian for a while after arriving to avoid dodgy stomachs, it's been impossible to not try the freshly caught seafood!

We will see if any of these change as we head up north or as we learn more as travellers..

Posted by amiee1992 00:09 Archived in India Comments (3)

The backwaters

An unforgettable experience

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Alleppey - the heart of Kerala's backwaters where we arrived via our first train journey. The train wasn't too bad, albeit the station was a little congusing. It was lovely to watch the sun come up over the breath taking scenary.

We decided to try a homestay this time. We had our own bedroom and bathroom in the garden of a family home. It is very basic, costing us only 500 rupees was night, but the family are very friendly. They have their own houseboat, which we had the pleasure of spending a whole day and night on, cruising the backwaters.

We explored Alleppey town on our first day in the new location, where we bought fresh fruit and a local sim card - a challenge in itself! This was the busiest place we have wondered so far, where we had plenty of practice in crossing busy roads and haggling with shop owners. We then met a french man staying at the homestay, Vincent. He is very chatty and constantly winding Amiee up. He invited us to a secret beach, which was completely deserted. A lovely afternoon spent in good company relaxing in the sun.

The back waters tour was unforgettable.   Ploughing through the beautiful scenery in an amazing boat with two floors (our bedroom upstairs and our kitchen dining area down stairs) and three staff who looked after us during our stay. Beside each glassless window were swinging chairs to relax on. Heaven.




We spend all day taking in the scenery, stopping only for lunch. It was so nice to relax properly. To stop thinking about where we were going next on our journey and how to get there. To not have to choose which restaurant was busiest/cleanest/had wifi. Instead we were cooked a feast of keralan dishes for lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch again.



We spent dawn fishing - terribly. We couldn't grasp it. The fish seemed to be ninjas nibbling away at the bait and avoiding the hook completely. Dan eventually caught a fish and we were so excited to see it. It was tiny. Around 10 cm long with two sharp spike on the side of its mouth. Amiee rolled around the floor laughing.

The heat on the top deck of the boat meant we stuggled to sleep soundly - but Amiee remembers having lots of vivid dreams that night. The following morning, breakfast was followed by an hour canoeing down the narrower waterways - getting lost in the backwaters community. We watched children running to school, women washing clothes and cooking pots, and men fishing.



We were then dropped at a new guesthouse for the night. Right on the backwaters lay a pink stretch of rooms, surrounded by lots of plant life and animals. The back of these stepped down into rice paddy fields. It was nice to spend time somewhere so quiet. We spent the day sat in the shade outside our room watching families go by on their boats, the goats and chickens cause havoc, and teaching Vincent English. We also went for a long walk through the villages along the waters edge, where so many children were amazed to see our faces, running up shouting hi and asking us our names. We've been told we will get fed up of this soon, but for now we are enjoying being celebrities where ever we go.


The small row of guesthouses were ran by an Indian lady who was very loud and chatty. She loved giving cuddles but seemed very stressed. She spoke very little English so communicating was quite difficult, although she managed to insist Amiee sat in the chair opposite whilst she chanted loudly from her bible.

We slept well with the lack of noisy road traffic and awoke at 7am to a canoe taking us to catch our taxi to Fort Kochin.

Posted by amiee1992 08:01 Archived in India Comments (5)

Lessons learnt

First stop done. Beautiful beaches, sunsets and hippie hangouts

33 °C
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Our time in Varkala is up and has taught us the basics of Indian culture. We are lucky to have met some lovely people who taught us some valuable lessons in avoiding being ripped off in India - which isn't easy!

Thankfully, this came at a very early stage of our travels.

Since we last blogged, we have not stopped loving life in Varkala and have partook in lots of activities.

We woke up early on our second morning and took a walk to a nearby temple, where we watched locals bathe in a nearby lake and saw religious ceremonies on Papanassum beach, a peaceful place to spend sunrise. A walk along the beach revealed fishermen sorting fresh fish from their nets after a hard night at sea.



Our  first yoga class was brilliant - the first of a beginners course with a great teacher, in a large bamboo hut draped with colourful cloths. Here is where we met a kind couple from New Zealand who we joined as the yoga teacher invited us to a tiny restaurant where locals eat for lunch. This is where we had our first taste of thali - a selection of tiny vegetarian dishes surrounded a plate of fluffy rice and vegetable curry. It was delicious and we were encouraged to eat with our hands. Lunch cost 50p each that day!

After a dip in the sea we headed to another local temple for an elephant festival. The atmosphere was amazing as lots of local families celebrated and preyed together. The arrival of 5 huge elephants to live music and lots of dancers was astonishing! A night we will never forget - partly also because we got lost in the dark village backstreets trying to find our way back to the beach front!


The next day included another yoga class where we learnt the basics to the 'king of asanas' - the headstand, followed by a six course cooking class with a local chef. The cooking class was so much fun- we each prepared 3 dishes under the chef, Ana's, instruction, whilst the other took notes on the recipe. It all tasted delicious!


After a day of constant changes of mind over whether to cancel our train journey  to Alleppey and stay in Varkala another week to finish our yoga course, we eventually decided to stick to our original itinerary. 


Posted by amiee1992 01:41 Archived in India Tagged beaches varkala Comments (4)

Greetings from India

sunny 32 °C
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Well.. We are not quite sure just how to describe the journey and our arrival into India. It's as if we fell into a deep deep sleep on the plane (which I can assure you we did NOT) and are in a very surreal dream!


Our three connecting flights across India, gave us a glimpse through the tiny window, at how diverse this country is. From the poverty stricken masses of Dehli to the picturesque green wetlands of Kerala. Although teaching us a lot this 4x10" window shows no spoils to what were our first experiences leaving trivandrum airport.

When our hotel pickup didn't arrive, we jumped in a taxi.. and so the adventure began.

Our first experience of an Indian car journey was terrifying, yet despite the driver constantly swerving out the way of oncoming traffic, we couldn't take our eyes off the surroundings. We passed an elephant festival, countless family's on sharing mopeds, and women cooking food sat on the sides of the road.

After checking into the room, we went for a wonder in the dark to find a place to eat. The north cliff of varkala beach was our destination and we stopped in the first busy restaurant we found.. A lawn filled with garden furniture and make shift table lamps. We ordered a selection of pakoras from the 'snacks' menu and were given 3 plate fulls costing us 2 pound each. We tucked I  whilst listening to the sounds of the waves crashing below the cliff and bats swooping above our heads.

The first nights sleep was difficult due to the noise outside of motorbike and horns. The hotel gave us free omelette for breakfast this morning and we went to explore the beach, where we had to climb down the steepest of steps to reach the beach below the cliff. It was beautiful!

We also took a walk along the many shops and restaurants on the north cliff and spent a few hours in a a cafe over lunch to get out if the heat. Our table had the most amazing view of the sea and we tucked into a vegetable curry and naan for £1.60!

Dans quite overwhelmed today so we have spent a few hours in the room this afternoon catching up on sleep. Hopefully he will just take a few days to adjust.. The culture is so different!


Our first impressions of India:

Positives - sun, clean and safe room, yummy food, beautiful Varkala beach, nice people. Amiee is in love with the country already.

Our list of Worries!:
Dan said "everything!" Haha
But mostly..
Fear of being ill
Worrying about money/valuables being stolen
Language barrier! Worse than we thought
Anxious about the journey onwards to Allapuhza

One step at a time...


Posted by amiee1992 18:05 Archived in India Tagged kerala varkala Comments (6)

Travel build up

2 weeks to go..

It only feels like yesterday that we were counting down from 2 years with nothing more than hazy images in our minds eye of what travelling would feel like. Now, with less than two weeks to go and a to do list the size of the Ganges the aching concoction of nerves, fear, happiness and two teaspoons of excitement is only quelled by hectic final days.

Work, plan, pack....Dream


17 full days, 9 working days, 1 leaving party, a lengthy journey to Southern India.. and we will no longer be dreaming.

This short time is elongated by the slow work days and non stop weekends of packing, planning and eternally long phone calls to the companies who own the roots of our day to day lives. Although this time seems too slow, what keeps us going is the images we sprouted not longer after we first met. When we both shared our hunger to travel the world. These images seem to be blossoming into a near reality now..

We will use this blog throughout our year long journey, to share our experiences with loved ones back home.

Feel free to subscribe and leave comments

Daniel & Amiee


Posted by amiee1992 11:01 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

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