India is a country that remains high on my travel bucket list. It seems to be a country of so much culture, colour and depth; with each city and state varying vastly to the next. Kerala is a state on the tip of Southern India. Otherwise called ‘Gods own Country’, it is known for its palm-fringed beaches, lush green backwaters and notably slower pace compared to the rest of India. In collaboration with Kerala Tourism, I have interviewed my friend and fellow traveller Naomi Wright to find out about her recent experience as a first-time traveller to Kerala.
First Time in Kerala – An Interview
This blog post has been sponsored by Kerala Tourism
Why were you first drawn to book a trip to Kerala?
I was drawn to India largely because of my love of Southern Asia. I have wanted to visit India for a long time and after visiting Sri Lanka in 2018 it made me want to go even more. I’m attracted to the culture, the nature, the food, the sunshine…just being immersed in the lifestyle. It’s also cheap which is a bonus. My friend and I wanted a mix of adventure, culture, relaxation and food was a priority! India seemed the perfect choice for this.
What was your travel route and where did you stay?
We arrived into Trivandrum Airport in the early hours and got a taxi to Varkala. This is a backpacker hotspot and the most touristy place we visited. We stayed at Cliff Stories on the south cliff, a guesthouse with its own access to the golden varkala beach. This was so chilled out and the food was amazing. They make everything from scratch so food takes a while to arrive but it is so worth the wait!
We then moved on to Mad about Coco on the north cliff, right amongst the cliff market, where we stayed for 3 nights. We shopped, explored, ate a lot, got massages (that included a mantra!) and did yoga here. From here we also took day trips with Soul and Surf which included surfing sunrise paddle boarding in the backwaters, Ponmudi mountains, Meenmutty waterfalls and to Anjengo Fort.
Next we took a 10p train ride to Munroe Island, which was recommended by locals as a beautiful and quiet alternative to Alleppey. We stayed at Munroe Days Homestay. Here we cycled around the island at sunrise and sunset soaking up local life and stopping for Chai. For our final stop we went to Kollam for some luxury on our way back down south. Here we stayed at The Raviz and this was one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. We took a 40p train from Kollam to Trivandrum to fly home.
Did Kerala match up to your expectations or did it surprise you?
I didn’t have a tonne of specific expectations and as it was last minute there wasn’t much time for detailed research. It certainly blew me away. The backwaters were nothing like I had seen before. It surprised me at how quiet it was and how few tourists there were, especially at Munroe Island and this was a real treat. There is so much more to see and I’d love to go back to Munnar and of course the north of India.
What are the people like?
The people are wonderful. Equally as fascinated in us and we were in them. They were extremely accommodating and friendly. They continuously went out of their way to give us the best experience. The people were a major part of why I enjoyed the trip so much.
What was the food like?
The food was as predicted, amazing. In Varkala there were menus and lots of choice including meat. More rurally, and away from Varkala, the food was much more authentic. It was mostly vegetarian with some fish curries at some restaurants. We ate in tiny local restaurants where they spoke little English and you ate what had been prepared fresh that day. They eat seasonal food and it’s delicious. We asked our drivers to take us to local places and we definitely feel we experienced eating in the way local people do. Eating with our hands was an experience.
Did you learn anything about yourself during your trip to Kerala?
I learned that I love connecting with people in other cultures so much. I learned a love for outdoor yoga. I learned that I like to be spontaneous and go with recommendations over being too strictly organized.
What was the most memorable moment of your trip?
This is hard as there were so many amazing moments on this trip. I’d say paddle boarding and our canoe tour on the backwaters were the stand out wow moments. Just being in and around local life is what made the experience for me though.
Describe Kerala in 3 words?
Beautiful, peaceful, tasty.
Top 3 things to do in Kerala?
Travel without an engine through the backwaters (paddleboard, kayak, canoe), experience local food, have a taste of luxury at a low price.
Top 3 tips for anyone visiting Kerala?
- Make the most of public transport, we didn’t do this soon enough.
- Talk to the locals and get their recommendations and tips
- Don’t be afraid to eat out at local restaurants
For a closer look at Kerala, watch this inspiring #HumanByNature video which has been created by Kerala Tourism
About Naomi Wright
Naomi Wright is registered psychotherapist based in Kendal, England. Alongside her work as a psychotherapist, Naomi is passionate about travel and mental health in the farming industry. Follow Naomi on Instagram @therapywithnaomi and visit her blog therapywithnaomi.wordpress.com
I think Kerala seems like a wonderful Introduction to India and a perfect destination for people visiting India for the first time. It allows travellers to immerse themselves in the culture at a slower pace compared to the big and bustling cities of Delhi and Mumbai. I would definitely make Kerala the starting point of my first trip to India and feel even more inspired to visit after interviewing the fabulous Naomi.
Want to read more? Check out my 17 Reasons to visit Sri Lanka in 2020
Have you visited Kerala or are you planning a trip there? Perhaps this post has inspired you to add it to your bucket list. If you enjoyed this post please leave a comment in the box below. Jess x