Archive for November, 2008

Kollam to Kochin

Friday, November 21st, 2008

I am still not sure what was driving me, when I booked that hotel room in Kollam. For my sanity, I hope it was lack of choice. The walls and windows of our room seemed to have melted in the humid heat of the afternoon and not even a soft rain could help it. The noise of the busy thoroughfare came in stereo. And only started to subside at 1 am in the morning only to rise again by 4.30.
Under such circumstances we caught quite a decent amount of sleep. Enough to drag ourselves to the train station and board our belated train to Ernakulam, which we reached in the midday heat. A motor rickshaw brought us to the boat jetty from where we wanted to take a ferry to Kochin. As we were cuing up at the ticket counter, suddenly the shutters fell and the counter was shut down – lunch break – despite a fast growing line of people wanting tickets.
We had to wait for 15 minutes until (more…)


Kollam: Backwaters

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Fortunately, nobody told us before we left from Kollam for Munroe Island what a 50 minutes trip of 27 kilometers in a motor rickshaw meant. Otherwise, we would have canceled the trip. But after we had started our trip through those crazy Kerala streets there was no turning back.
When we arrived at Munroe Island in order to go on board our canoe, I was again totally exhausted from the noise, dirt and confusion of our ride. I doubt whether I will ever get used to traveling on Indian streets. For me they are the ultimate definition of stress.
Munroe Island presented itself as a stark (more…)


Kerala: Varkala

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Kingfisher Airways brought us safely from Goa to Trivandrum, capital of Kerala, with a stop over in Bengaluru. We arrived in Trivandrum late at night and caught a taxi to a mediocre hotel close to the train station. The night was very unpleasant due to the most uncomfortable beds we have ever slept in. Before a taxi was supposed to give us a lift to Verkala, 60 ks north of Trivandrum, we went out to explore the neighborhood. We walked towards the train and bus terminal in order to have breakfast in a unique Indian Diner which is located in a tower. This was quite an experience although the food was not particularly noteworthy. For the breakfast we paid about 150 Rupees, which is less than 3 Euros.
Outside the streets were the usual mess and amalgam of (more…)



Friday, November 14th, 2008

After a night in the City Palace hotel, which, honestly, doesn’t have much in common with a palace at all, but which is conveniently situated opposite of Victoria Station, we boarded the train headed towards Goa. We arrived in darkness at the terminal in a spooky atmosphere. On our way we saw many people sleeping on or beside the side walks and in ditches, covered solely with a sheet of plastic or canvas, and were again reminded of the sad fact that 55 % of Bombay’s population lived in slums. Bombay has a current population of about 8 million…
We were lucky enough to get seats in 3rd class on the morning train, not the most comfortable way to travel by any means. There were 8 people in our compartment with 8 convertible beds attached to the walls. It was even narrower in there than on the airplane.
After 12 hours and a trip that turned out to be more comfortable than expected, at dusk, we finally arrived in Old Goa . We had seen quite a bit of India on our train ride and the landscape turned out to be a different picture from the garbage, traffic and smog dominated metropolis that we had just left behind. India is a vast, (more…)



Monday, November 10th, 2008

On Saturay, shortly before midnight, we set foot on Indian soil after an eight hours flight from Vienna. An ancient looking taxi driver in an even more ancient looking taxi, which can be considered quite an achievement, brought us to our hotel. The trip was a first taste of what we should experience in the next days on the street of Bombay.
Well, officially Bombay is now called Mumbai as all cities seem to have at least two names. This, of course, makes things intricate for the foreign traveller and adds to the confusion and chaos that emanates from the streets and by-walk in this bee-hive of a city. (more…)