Tuesday, 30 April 2019

6 reasons why you should visit South India!

So it’s a little bit late as I’ve been catching up with the work I should have done when I was on one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever been on, but here it is! All the reasons why South India should be on your list of places to visit!

The most attractive thing about travelling around India is definitely how financially viable it is to do so! With 90 rupees to £1, our most expensive meal out cost us 1300 rupees (that’s right, £14.50 for 2 people!) plus, with hostels/Airbnbs averaging at £5 per night, the total cost for the trip with flights included is not dissimilar to the cost of 2 weeks in Barcelona of Venice. The scary thing is that, because rupees are a protected currency, you can’t get any cash out in England beforehand. Naturally, the airport charges a far worse rate – 77 rupees to £1 – so only get enough to cover your taxi and first day or so and get the rest somewhere better, in the city. You won’t need much, but always good to have some smaller notes too – fixed prices are a rarity in India, so places are not good at giving change!

Anyone who assumes Indians just eat rice and spice is wrong. In South India there are more fruits and vegetables than you could ever imagine (how do you even pronounce Mangustaan?) and everything is so fresh and delicious. Whether you're veggie or not there is so much choice – they don’t call Kerala the garden of India for nothing! The north has less vegetables but use paneer instead. And yes, you will get curry for breakfast in India. But boy do I miss having fresh pomegranate juice with idlis and sambar every morning!

We were extremely lucky in that a friend had some family out in India who we could stay with. We sort of assumed that we would try and keep out of their way and be as little inconvenience to them as possible, but there was no chance of that happening. Indian culture is so welcoming and we couldn’t have stayed with nicer people: we were shown around, cooked for and waited on with such generosity, we could not even begin to show our thanks.
And if you don’t know anyone, it still doesn’t matter! Our Airbnb host made us brekkie each morning and recommended us the best-value tour of the Kerala Backwaters (a tenth of the price we were going to pay!) As in any country you must be careful when speaking to strangers, but if you get the chance to meet some locals, 100% get stuck in.

(Shore Temples in Mahabalipuram ft Issac, our wonderful host!!)
(Trekking with Suresh and his wonderful groundsman!!!)

India is a subcontinent. In a few hours, we were transported from Chennai in the east: rich with temples, beaches, shops, monuments, businesses and heaving with traffic – to the peaceful hill village of Nelliyampathy in the west. The hills couldn’t have been more different from the bustle of the city: we saw monkeys, deer, buffalo and eagles roaming through the jungle and no other people aside from our wonderful host and workers picking tea. No matter what you’re interested in, India has a place for you to explore. The only downside is: you’ll never have enough time to see it all!

Because everything is so cheap in India, its hard to know what to fill your case with. Beautiful trousers and saris for £5, cushion covers, duvets, rugs - and then there are the teas, the spices, the jewellery – a real silver ring would have cost me £3, the oils and lotions they use for wellbeing and beauty (I’ve never seen an Indian woman who doesn’t have gorgeous long hair!) – how can you ever choose? Because everything is so cheap it can feel criminal, but it only feels cheap because of what we’re used to: everything is relative. It’s also far better to hand the money to independent shop owners rather than multinational companies: one shopkeeper who sold me a pair of earrings said we’d been his only customers and my £6 purchase had made his day.

(me in the hills ft new earrings!)
India is a very different culture to ours. Embrace it. Cutlery isn’t a thing; blondes might get some funny looks; your food might be served on a plantain leaf; the one and only rule that drivers seem to abide by is don’t hit the cows! – but the experience will be one that you never forget for your entire life. There’s only so much I can convey through words, you’ve just got to go and live it for yourself. 

Let me know if you do!

Love, Haze xxxxx


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