Sunday, 13 February 2011

BACKPACKING - The easy way

Backpacking used to involve carrying a rucksack with everything you needed to travel including a tent and cooking facilities.  You walked between locations and camped at night.

Today there are many variations on this enabling more people to enjoy the experience of travelling independantly.  It does not have to be uncomfortable or gruelling.

We have small bags containing everything we need but have changed from carrying them on our backs to the

Booking planes and trains on line in India

One of the easiest sites to use to book train and plane flights in India is Clear Trip .  They may not always be the cheapest but you get to view up to 5 days of flights to make a comparison and can book and pay with a foreign credit card.

At the moment they are offering a free flight (you pay taxes etc) for every flight booked but the promo code is for Spice Jet flights only and I have yet to find a flight against which you can use it.  However I have found other flights for Rs1 with this and Indigo airlines so it is probably not worth worrying about.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


We arrived in Varkala intending staying for 3 or 4 days but it is such a great backpackers area we will stay much longer.

We started at Sky Lark Guesthouse . Faith seems to know all the needs of travellers and has free wi-fi, a satellite TV and socialising area on the roof top and use of the kitchen.  She is often fully booked and could only squeeze us in for 2 nights so book well ahead if you want to visit.  Prices are very reasonable with long stay discounts

Further down Thiruvambadi Road we treated ourselves at Thiruvambadi Resort finding that out of high season they have some great rates on basic rooms and having a swimming pool is a real bonus.  Also the food they serve was all very tasty and inexpensive.  You can use the pool as a day visitor for Rs200.

A few yards down the road is "Black Beach" then turning right you reach Odiyam and left is the cliff top walk to the main beach.  Walking along you pass many shops and restaurants.  Although they are touting for business there is no pressure and everyone is extremely polite and friendly.  You are spoilt for choice with food from around the world and the evening displays of fresh fish are amazing.

Highly recommended for anyone needing a break from the hustle and bustle of the real India or wanting some western food and company. 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

INDIA Kerala backwaters trips

The big attraction of Kerala is to do a backwater trip on a houseboat.  We recently visited Alleppey and stayed with a local.  He told us about the problems this is causing and how we can help to reduce the pollution by doing the trip in other ways.

There are now around 800 houseboats in the district. Without holding tanks the toilet waste goes directly into the canals and the diesel and kerosene waste are also polluting the waters. Another problem is the erosion.

Going on a houseboat may be very romantic and an experience in itself but you can see as much if not more of backwater life in other ways.  As there are so many it has now become a parade with little chance of you being out of eyesight of another boat. Prices are around Rs 4500 to Rs 10000 per couple per night (including food).

 The most environmentally friendly alternative is to take a canoe and let yourself be paddled around the backwaters, Rs 150 an hour.  You will find that you are closer to the banks of the canals and being at water level you get a really good view of village life.  You can also go down the smaller and narrower canals and get away from the noise of the houseboats to enjoy a very tranquil trip. You sit on a mattress with a backrest which can get uncomfortable.  A 4 to 5 hour trip would be about right. 

Alternatively you can take a motorised small boat, Rs350 hour.  Again you are able to travel close and down the small canals and would probably do as much in 2 hours as a canoe in 6.  

There is also the local ferry boat running down to Kollam but this goes much faster and not down the small canals.