Kerala: Work family to travel family

If you had told me two years ago that my last day at Epic, I’d be jumping on a plane for a DHA+IBM+Epic trip….well I don’t even think we would’ve been at the laughing stage yet, probably would’ve all given quite a dirty look…

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This trip is really special because I get to travel with Smita, project director from DHA, and her family (her husband Sinoy, son Sanju, and nephew, Shrish), plus two of my close IBMers, Shrey Shrey (Shreya) and  RoRo (Rawan). After going through two years of a long and tough project, we have all grown super close, so all traveling together is an unexpected and amazing way to wrap it all up.

Smita and her husband have coordinated a dream trip through Kerala for us. We did absolutely zero planning on this one, which is a luxury in itself!

First for my non-Indian friends: Kerala is a state in south western India, not a city. We visited 3 areas of Kerala: Kumarakom, Thekkady, and Munnar.

I love India. I first visited the country in November 2015 on a solo yoga trip. Looking back I remember being so nervous to go. I went to Dubai first to visity Jeff, he had to take me to the airport and I remember the massive pep talk he gave just to get me on the plane. In that first trip, I spent 1 week in Goa at a yoga retreat, then visited Bombay (Mumbai), Agra for the Taj Mahal, and Delhi. I visited India a second time in November 2017 for a surf & yoga retreat in Verkala, Kerala. This time, I came back to Kerala, but experienced India in a whole new light! 

What I learned:

  • Kerala climate can change drastically from really hot and humid down near sea level, to chilly and rainy up in the mountains.
  • Kerala is a more liberal state, and I like that (don’t think American republican/democrat) – they are one of the few states in India that vote against the party of the prime minister, which seems to be because they are more open and passionate about keeping the spirit of being a democratic country.
  • A kurti is the beautiful, colorful cotton tops women wear. I have major fashion envy of Indian women. But, be careful not to forget the “R” in kurti, as I apparently often did, which results in yelling “bitch” instead of a beautiful colorful tunic.
  • How to create a blog! I launched adventurewithaly.com while in India. Shoutout to Shreya for letting me talking about blogging just a little too much, and also helping me brainstorm and create my pinboard of ideas! And to Roro (Rawan) for helping spread the word of the big launch.
  • Indian moms are super protective of their little betas! And it’s adorable.
  • When your pee is neon yellow in India, it doesn’t mean that you’re dehydrated. It just means that you’re eating a lot of curries and dal.
  • I already knew this, but 100% reconfirmed that Indian people are absolutely beautiful, loving, caring, and make the best food.

Day by day:

Kochi > Kumarakom> Thekkady > Munnar

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Day 1 (March 20): Flew from Dubai to Cochin (Kochi) in Kerala overnight

  • Backwaters house boat: We took a big wooden houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala for the whole afternoon. It was stunning! We were all pretty tired from the overnight flight, so we chilled on the boat all afternoon taking in the good weather and nature.
    • The backwaters are lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast of Kerala
  • We stayed at the Zuri hotel, which was right on the backwaters and had really bungalows right on the water

Day 2 (March 21): Kumarakom to Thekkady

  • Woke up in the morning and went cycling with Sanju. The handlebars of my bike were broken, it was so hard to keep up with the kid!
  • Pineapple stop – we stopped for pineapple juice and saw the cutest baby pineapples growing
  • Tea Plantation – got to see how tea is made!
  • EMBARASSING moment: I went with Smita, Sinoy, and the boys  to a local community center for some martial arts shows. They were pretty cool and lots of jumping through fire. After that, there was a traditional Indian story play. At the end of a strange facial expressions section, they called me ON STAGE to be the crowd participant. I had to make all these strange faces in front of everyone…then at the end they did little dance, which was kind of like arab dancing, so of course I totally nailed that part of the show, haha 😉

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  • Wine with the girls – after Smita put the boys to bed, we got to have some girl time and sipped on some wine

Day 3 (March 22): Thekkady

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  • Elephant trek – Sinoy planned an awesome adventure to an elephant sanctuary nearby. We got to go on a short, quick, ride around the grounds, then play and hug the elephants.
  • Buying a kurti – well first, I kept mispronouncing this word, and if you leave out the “R” which I was inclined to do, you call someone a bitch, lol. A KURTI is the colorful long indian tops
  • Treehouse – we spent the afternoon chilling in the treehouse
  • Nature walk around greenwoods – for our evening ladies time, we went on a nature walk around our amazing resort. They had beautiful flowers and trees

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Day 4 (March 23): Munnar

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  • Views from Blanket hotel: Our hotel was on the side of a massive cliff overlooking a waterfall. The views were incredible
  • We went on a walk through the valley, to a little tea shop across the way. The tea shop was home to the most adorable little family, the grandma of the family and I talked for a bit and became friends!
  • Ayurvedic oil massage: We made appointments for traditional Ayurvedic massage in the evening. When we checked in they asked if we could move our appointments to the next day…and when we asked why they informed us a Saudi prince was staying in the hotel and wanted our time slot. I was like okay listen, I’m not letting some Saudi prince take my massage, they’ve inconvenienced my life enough already. But actually I guess the prince didn’t end up wanting the massage so we got to have it! Well it was interesting, to sum it up they basically just pour oil over your forehead for 30 minutes straight. You’re supposed to relax and meditate…I still have some work to do in that area and although I tried, it almost drove me crazy with oil just hitting your head over and over and overrrrr.

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Day 5 (Marc 24): Munnar

  • We went exploring around Munnar town.
  • Shreya wasn’t able to join our nature walk across the bridge the night before, so me and the boys took her again. This time we walked farther to a little village and a temple. We passed an adorable little church on the hill, and I lit a candle for Jeffery (it’s a thing I’ve been doing when I visit churches while traveling!)
  • We went back to the tea shop with the adorable grandma! She held my hand and walked home with us and introduced us to her husband. I want to come live with this amazing little family!!!

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March 25: I was really sad to see this trip come to an end! But my next spot was calling my hippie heart again ♡

South Indian I loveeeeeee (and some fusion with North Indian) food:

  • Dosa and sambar
  • Masala dosa
  • Idly
  • Apaam
  • Channa
  • Dal

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