Monthly Archives: January 2010

god’s own country

Kerala is everything the guidebooks say, and more.   My 40 hour non-A/C ride was far more bearable than I thought it would be, due to the welcoming presence of several Marathis and Malayalis.  I brought my own food, which proved only partly necessary, as food was abundant.  It got quite warm the second day, but manageable, and never too crowded.

3 am arrival to Trivandrum, and straight to the lodge, which was conveniently next to the train station.  Then we woke up early-ish, got ready and headed to the bus (also next door) for the bus to Kollam (A/C). 

There, we met our host, who runs a small guesthouse right on the beach.  We dropped off our bags, and headed back to town, to catch a ride to Ashtamudi Lake, and a lake islands tour.  Not sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to see a long canoe/longboat, and a few other foreigners.  We delicately boarded, and then our guide and canoe driver pushed off the banks with his pole and we proceeded on a lazy 3-hour trip through the backwaters, stopping for tea, fresh coconut water, and several inquisitive young children. 

Tonight, on the beach.  Tomorrow, we board a ferry for Amrithapuri, for some full body contact with Amma, then on to Alleppey.

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gearing up

So my week-long do-nothing vacation is about to end, as tomorrow I depart for Kerala, in the south of India.  I’m taking the train, and will have 40 hours to kill in a non-A/C car. Here’s hoping Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a highly fascinating book.

I’ve spent the past week in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat.  It’s where my mom grew up (for the most part) and where my closest relatives on her side live.  The house used to be a small village outside of town, but “town” has quickly grown to encompass the villages as suburbs.  When you look at a map of Ahmedabad, Ranip is now on it as part of the city.

Gujarat has gone hard-core commercial.  Shopping complexes, cinemas (71 at last count), and all the various accoutrements are easy to find, at least in Ahmedabad.  It’s always been a big bustling area, but now even more so.

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mosquito paradise

After an insane amount of travel, I made it to Ahmedadabad. It is warm here, and the mosquitos are biting in full force. It’s also crowded and loud here – a big difference from UB. We are shopping and visiting family, and I am trying to arrange teh rest of my time on vacation. So far, so good.

I realized recently that I forgot my USB cord, so it will be a while before I can get pictures. My camera is also in the camera shop so it is out of commission for a bit.

So the next few days I will lay low and relax. Be back in a bit!

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korean does it right

It has come to my attention that I adapt to change too easily.  This isn’t to say there is some amount of adjustment period required, but rather that I shift into a new lifestyle far more readily than one would expect. And far more quickly, hence, my slight amount of shock upon landing in Incheon.  With a permanent look of startlement on my face, I made my way to the Korean Air counter and picked up my hotel voucher. 

It turns out, Korean Air doesn’t leave you hanging.  I did have to leave the airport (therefore getting another stamp in my passport), but only went about a 10 minutes drive to the Hyatt Regency.  It was, as all American chains are abroad, fancy and swanky, and my room was almost the size of my apartment.  And to top it off, they gave me food vouchers – breakfast (which I slept through), lunch, and then dinner at the airport.  Not bad at all.

Of course, leaving UB was a production – the temperatures dropped drastically, heading into the deepest of winter.  I got out in time, it seems, but was hardly dressed for running around at the airport trying to find an open door.  They say it will be a dzud this year.  Don’t doubt it.

So, 4 hours after my ticketed departure, we were in the air, fighting strong tail winds to arrive at Incheon at 1 am.  Today, there is massive amounts of fog, so I expect tonight’s flight to be delayed somewhat too.  But I have a 6 hour layover in Mumbai, so I’m not too concerned.

Korea is warm and humid and populated.  It feels bizarre.  I had a delicious tofu miso kimchi soup with grilled fish, all of which tasted fresh and flavorful.  Then I slept in a large warm comfortable bed and stole hotel toiletries on my way back to the airport. 

Tomorrow, I arrive in Ahmedabad to meet my brother and sister-in-law, then off to stay with family for a week.  And maybe even see Avatar again….

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leaving on a jet plane

My departure from Mongolia is imminent and my travel adventure is about to begin.  I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends again, and spend time in warm weather.  I’m also excited about my “yoga holiday” – 2 weeks at a small yoga facility on the beach of Kovalam.

Definitely sad to leave here, but so grateful for a phenomenal experience and some amazing new friends.

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happy new year

I have 6 days left in Mongolia, before I depart for a few months of travel and then head back to the US.  Time flies!  All travel posts will be here.