All this started when, about a year ago, I got to know a colleague who likes to travel, backpacking with his wife to lots of places . He recommended me to travel from one town to another, using the local transportation and that will give me a totally different experience compare to just going to one town in one country.
After travelling alone to a few cities like Colombo in Sri Lanka, Manila in Phillipines, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam, Jakarta and Yogyakarta Indonesia and the United Kingdom early this year and end of last year, I thought it was time for me to explore more. I felt I am more prepared. Not 100% but at least 80% ready for this. So, I decided that for my ‘birthday’ treat this year, I wanted to go to India. A country where not many people are interested to go to, especially when they heard so many stories about it.
After 3 weeks of planning, it was time to go. As India is a huge country and I had only a certain limited number of annual leave approved, I decided the Southern of India would be a good choice. So, off I went for 9 days, travelling from Hyderabad (where I landed) to Bangalore to Cochin and to Trivandrum before I flew back to Malaysia!
Nervous? Oh yes!!! Scared? No words could describe how fast my heart was beating upon landing in Hyderabad! Travelling alone in a country that I’ve never been before, for 9 days, to 4 different towns / cities by taking the train is definitely a crazy idea. But I knew I just had to do it.
I arrived Hyderabad around 11.15am local time . Took the bus from the airport (it is like our Skybus) to the town for about Rp175. Then had to take the “auto” or they also call it as 3-wheeler, which is the most famous transportation, to the hotel which I have booked in advance. The hotel is right smack in the middle of the town and it is as busy as Jakarta.I spent the whole day walking around town taking pictures and trying the local food. I love the local police – everytime I wanted to cross the road at the zebra crossing, he made the traffic stopped! And I could see how upset the drivers were especially the bus drivers 😉
Later,a colleague who is based there, brought me out for a drive and to a famous briyani restaurant, Paradise, which is known to serve the best Briyani in India. You should look at the queue at the take-away counter: it is amazing to see people queuing up as long as 30mnts to buy it.
I went on a tour bus provided by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation which costs Rp270 for a whole day tour. It was great because they brought us to visit the Salar Jung Museum, Nizam Museum, Charminar and the best of all, Golconda Fort, which had an awesome view of the whole Hyderabad city from the top of the Fort!
Then, at around 9pm, I boarded the night train (1st class air-conditioned) which left Hyderabad heading to Bangalore, my 2nd city in India. This ride cost me around Rp1600.
The train ride was about 13hours. Upon arrival at Bangalore train station a Malaysian friend who was studying there met me and off we went to her place. It was there I spent the night. Bangalore is as busy as Hyderabad however the weather is much nicer. Temperature ranging between 20C – 28C during the day, and may get lower at night and it was breezy. It is also known as a place where the locals go there to retire as it is a nice city with lots of trees.
I did some window shopping and found out that I could get lovely sarees for only around RM20 each!! WOW!!
I went out early in the morning to spend sometime withmy other friends at the airport. Oh… I just love the airport. It is beautiful and it looks much, much better than our own LCC Terminal here and to make it perfect, the weather was really lovely to just sit outside at the cafe and have a cup of coffee 😉
At 5pm, I took the 2nd class air-conditioned sleeper train from Kacheguda station. This time, I headed down to Cochin in the state of Kerala.The train ticket cost around Rp850.
Day 5 (and Day 6)
The train arrived Aluva at around 3.45am and the hotel had provided transportation to bring me back to the hotel. I had to stop at Aluva instead of Ernakulam station in Cochin as the latter is further from my hotel.
Cochin in Kerala is famous for its beaches and backwaters, and with the help of a local friend, he booked me a place at the Cherai Beach. It was definitely an excellent choice as the door to my room faces the backwaters and the other side of the room faces the beach. The view is just perfect!
The setback of it, because it is off-peak season due to monsoon, almost all the restaurants and cafes in the area are closed. But the lovely side of it, it is quiet, peaceful and literally I had the whole area to myself!! I spent the next 2 days just lazying at the hotel and reading books that I’ve brought from home and also purchased in Bangalore.
I stayed there for 2 nights. And this was where I celebrated my birthday!
The final leg of my journey was to Trivandrum (south of Cochin), another town in Kerala. I boarded the train at Ernakulam station and arrived at Trivandrum Central, my last destination. It left at about 5.50am and reached Trivandrum at around 11am. I just love the coffee they were selling ‘onboard’ which costs Rp8 and the vaday which costs Rp13 for 3 pcs. Simple but lovely breakfast indeed! It makes me hungry every time remembering these 2!
My friends who are locals in Trivandrum helped to pick me up at the station and off we went for lunch before heading to the hotel. They managed to help me book a lovely hotel for a very good price, and this hotel is located at Kovalam Beach, a beautiful beach down south.
Kovalam beach is just beyonds words could describe. With resorts facing the beach, and nice cafes for me to choose from to enjoy the food,the breeze and the view, it was perfect! You could also enjoy the famous Ayurvedic massage or just jump into the sea for a refreshing swim as the water from the Arabian sea is definitely much colder than the sea surrounding Malaysia;-)
I left Trivandrum on the 9th day of the trip feeling sad. It was truly an amazing experience. Southern of India, from my 9 days experience, is different from the things I’ve heard in the news. Its beautiful (it will be more colourful during festival period, definitely!) , people speaks english and they are warm and friendly . Oh…have I mentioned that the food is excellent ( I gained 4kgs during the trip, ok!). The poori, idly, masala dosa, kerala seafood,naan with palak paneer and who could resist the briyani? No wonder I gained 4kgs in 9 days. One more important thing: please drink either the mineral water,the bottled or canned drinks or the hot drinks like coffee and masala tea. And please avoid the drinks with ice cubes in it!
My train rides from one city to the other was also good. Go for the 1st class or 2nd class air-conditioned. You can book it from here. Between the 4 towns/cities,since I am a beach person, I love Trivandrum the best. If you love the other towns or cities, you could also fly directly to all this 4 places from Kuala Lumpur.
Honestly, each country has its good and bad and what I see about India is it is not as bad as people say it is. Tourist Visa to India for the Malaysian enables you to enter twice and valid for 6 months. So here I am, planning my next trip to Trivandrum again!!