5th March 2016
A knock on the door, Sarah of Fit Travels is calling for me. She asks, “Have you done your interview? Vineeth is waiting for you at the lobby for the Kerala Blog Express interview. You are the last one”. I am currently packing as the two weeks luxury trip known as Kerala Blog Expresswrapped up the day before. Being the camera shy person that I am, I reluctantly oblige. Vineeth finds a spot near a ghost tree at Bolgatty Palace Island Resorts and hands me the collar mic to clip to my blouse. #keralablogexpress
Vineeth has a pleasant appearance; always smiling and has a soft spoken voice. He starts bombarding me with questions about my two weeks luxury Kerala Blog Express trip and we have 30 minutes before my departure to the Kochi International Airport. Before we begin, I ask Vineeth how do I pronounce Kerala correctly.
It’s Kerrr-rala. (Of course, he does it with a slight head bubble.)
No! It’s Kerr-rala. (He moves his head and put it at a stop after he finishes pronouncing the last syllable.)
Kerrr-rala! (You only get it right when you do the head bubble as you pronounce.)
Nature, nature and nature! I’ve been to 9 big cities all over India. Kerala is like a country on its own suiting to Kerala Tourism’s slogan of God’s Own Country. The serenity and laid back cruise with Rainbow Cruise at Alleppey is a mind-blowing experience! I saw kaleidoscopic landscapes from village life to fishing village to bird sanctuary to magnificent paddy fields to flooded paddy fields full with lotuses. To be honest, the day we cruised the backwater of Allepey, I was overwhelmed with too many beautiful landscapes! So many wow moments to digest and it was just day 2 of Kerala Blog Express! Our Rainbow Cruises docked next to the paddy field as we witnessed the sun setting over coconut trees . Sunsets are mesmerizing, we have been blessed with quite a few stunning sunrise and sunset panorama.
For a hiker, the Butterfly Route trekking also grants extraordinary views at every turn. Before coming to Kerala, I have heard a lot about the South Indian treks, I’m glad I finally get to do it.
The people of Kerala is amazing! They are very friendly and always wear a smile on their faces. I stayed at Parnavam Homestay, Wayanad. Mrs Rema offered tremendous hospitality in welcoming us into her home. All food served were freshly made by our host. They were cooked over wood fire! The homestay was one of the highlights for Kerala Blog Express as we watched a football match at night, took a walk around tea plantation at the wee hour the next morning and enjoyed a cup of tea with milk at a local stall thereafter. In fact, I was taught how to really eat and taste the essence of Indian traditional food served on banana leaf.
What surprises me the most is they know how to respect nature. They understand what is responsible tourism. Instead of ruining the nature for modern development, they integrate side by side with nature to co-exist. When we were at the backwater, I was shocked to see many species of birds in villages that we passed by. They are not common birds, they are colourful endemic birds rarely seen even for me who have spent considerable time exploring lush jungles.
Vineeth abruptly interrupts my speech and says, hold on for a second.
Ah, how can I say about the birds! They fascinated me during the entire trip. I cannot truly describe my experience from a point of view of a professional bird watcher! I come with little expectation of birds! Kerala has crossed me as bird watchers’ paradise since Day 1. Kerala is the place where I discover my love for birds. I saw a lot of them on this trip; egrets, bulbuls, white breasted kingfisher, brahminy kites, kites, sparrows to name a few. How can you see so many birds in one trip? It is still hard for me to believe.
I feel honored to be able to join Kerala Blog Express 3. It’s amazing to be travelling on the same coach with 29 other travel bloggers from 25 countries and share this experience of a lifetime. The hotels and resorts that we stayed are fabulously fantastic. I learn about places that I am not aware of before. I gain knowledge about the way of life in Kerala, the wildlife which can be found in many reserves and sanctuaries in Kerala, the traditional dance art taught at Kochi Kalamandaman as well as the newly discovered archaeological site of Muziris at Kodungallor. I even get to learn how tea leaves are processed into consumable favourite drink of the world. We did a lot of activities. too For example, I did my first glamping ever at Suryanelli, Munnar. Bamboo rafting at Wayanad. Elephant sighting at Periyar Tiger Reserve excites me for as long as I could remember. Kerala Blog Express is certainly a trip of a lifetime.