Kodaikanal: Hills and Us

Kodaikanal has been as much a well-known destination as Ooty has been, during our childhood. There hasn’t been many people from around here who didn’t go to the place, it reminded one of Ooty itself, and the temperature was around eleven. Coming from Cochin, Kodaikanal is almost as the same distance as Ooty, and both becomes perfect destinations for vacation as they have served for a long time to the students and families of Kerala. There are many routes to Kodaikanal, and we decided to go through the one which goes through Kuttikkanam, Kumily, Cumbum and Theni. It was a fine route except for the high traffic of Sabarimala season. Unlike the other hill stations, I have felt that Kodaikanal is not a place of different tourist attractions, but a grand attraction all by itself. We stayed at the TTDC Tamil Nadu Hotel, and that proved to be good too.

Journey through the mist means towards eternity.

One side of TTDC Hotel Tamil Nadu located close to the town.

The clouds are never too far away when in Kodaikanal.

The views are grand, and we need to be there again.

Some smaller, but lovely views are yet to be had here.

Always have a look from up above when in Kodaikanal.

You have to stop often, either for tea, or for some fruits.

Some places of spirituality are around when at this hill station.

A foggy morning serves Ford Figo Aspire with tea.

Some roads are divergent, and less traveled, but too good.

***All images here were taken on my Samsung Galaxy J4+

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TeNy

Varkala: The Beach and the Cliff

With its long coastline, Kerala is certainly not short of its beautiful beaches, and the names which everyone knows and is full of visitors at all times might be Kovalam and Cherai. Muzhappilangad is our lovely drive-in beach to remember. On that long list, there is one place which stands tall. Varkala Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches, one which is not to be forgotten. It is the only beach in Kerala with cliffs like these so close to the sea. It is the kind of place which reminds one of Dover Beach, and that wonderful lyric poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold, which we have studied more than once – “the cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay”. About 170 km from Cochin, and 35 km from Kollam, the beach is Thiruvananthapuram district, with its capital 45 km from there. The town of Paravur is only 12 km from the place.

Along with its beauty, Varkala also have some places of spirituality with its temples. There are some fine options for food while walking through the cliff. There are some nice shots to be taken both from the beach and the cliff. In comparison with other beaches, this one has its shops opening late in the morning and closing late in the evening. When coming from the North of Kerala, both the Kottayam and the Alappuzha routes can be chosen. There is much to be seen through the latter route, even though both routes can be joined at different places except for certain parts of the low lying areas filled with water. There are some fine choices with food and accommodation, and if it is off-season, the better idea is to book directly from location as rooms should be available, unless some huge event comes up.

You look down from the cliff, and you want to be there right now.

Reached the hotel a little late for lunch, and had to rush through.

As the sunset approaches, you are always hoping to stay on.

Just another side of Varkala Beach which is not that explored.

Spent some time looking at Varkala beach and cliff at night.

The colours of the sunset spreads, and leaves us with a happy feeling.

Not exactly the while cliffs of Dover, but Matthew Arnold won’t mind.

Had some variety food from God’s Own Country Kitchen on the cliffs.

It is happy walking through the Varkala Beach and surroundings at night.

Thiruvambadi Beach Retreat Resort provided some good space.

Also read on the Indonesian Bali journey.

TeNy

An Eternity in a Journey

I need to pass through the bubble. It has been four hours since I reached here. Vagamon is one of the most beautiful hillstations despite it being very easy to reach here from Cochin and its satellite towns. The idea is to take the leap of faith, and it is not just a figurative thing, as literally it remains the same too. The bubble is located far below the suicide point, and the leap had to be perfect. Otherwise, the rock below would have something special to say, and it won’t be beautiful. These rocks had a say between life and death, as they are known to have decided the fate of everyman more than once or twice.

How can someone trust a necromancer with something that is beyond your ability for willing suspension of disbelief? When was the last time a necromancer desired for the betterment of a human being? If I was a creature of darkness, it wouldn’t have caused me any trouble in instantly believing in this. If he was a regular mage, this wouldn’t have been so difficult. But something had to be done, as every second lost in this world will count as a day in what lies beyond the bubble. It has to be the portal that connects the two world. This happens right now or it can never happen. I am taking this chance.

Finding a new world is always difficult, and this one is the closest to nature

I could feel that I am falling into eternity, destined to continue this forever. The fall felt to be very quick, but I could see beautiful castles and meadows on both sides, and occasionally the scenes changed to something darker, with thunderstorms over the ruins of some old buildings. The fall stopped half an hour later, and I could find myself on a smooth surface resembling water. It was not really water as it was solid. It was not really ice as it was incredibly soft. I made my way to the sands on my left side, and after I set my foot there, the surface turned into water. I walked further to meet the same necromancer channeling certain energy into his orb.

The necromancer explained the idea of having this realm parallel to our own. It had to be the utopia which could exist and take all those people who can live in harmony with nature. Below all those meadows, there were houses which were completely made out of living trees and plants. There was only a little bit of metal being used in there, and it was the kind of material which seemed to strengthen the trees. All the vegetation grew in such a way that it was supposed to support the homes as the humans tries to keep the environment intact. The relation here was symbiotic.

There is no lack of beauty with nature staying close to humanity

I left him to wander around the newly discovered place. There were so many wonders of nature all around that small space. I could see aurora in the sky as green lights on the sky reflected the greenery on the meadows. Surrounded by an unknown river on all sides, the place had its own waterfalls and the increasing flow of water kept many waterwheels moving. Along with the same, the wind energy was used with help of those windmills on the top of cliffs and solar energy seemed to taken in using a certain device in the form of an obelisk. The transportation was through ropeway which had car-like things hanging on them.

I noticed that there were two suns on the horizon. I came across the necromancer again, and he told me that it is a natural phenomenon. The portal transports one to that corner of the galaxy which has been unknown to all known alien life forms. It was a few warlocks who found this particular place while exploring their skills of teleportation. One had to go for the #BlindList each and every time to travel all the way here. One also had to #SayYesToTheWorld, to that kind of a world which opposed modernity and its exploitation. Then there was the need to take the leap of faith, where almost all rationalists failed.

It was like being invited on a blind date. To travel to a place you know nothing about, for an experience you have no clue about, has never been something designed for the brain – it was always about the heart and soul. In a world of chaos, people can’t be open-minded enough to say yes. Compared to the #BucketList which has known wishes, #TheBlindList is the one thing that goes a step forward. At some point of time, we have to go for this list, and there is the need to explore more, finding that perfect place which is “magical”, figuratively or literally. The traveler in us asks for the same. Be openminded, #SayYesToTheWorld now and begin the exploration!

**The images used in this blog post are taken from the Official Facebook Page of the popular video game, Mass Effect.

TeNy

Vagamon Revisited

Vagamon is a destination that goes back to childhood, and it was only a developing tourist place at that time. One can say that even now, it is a lesser hill station compared to Munnar and Thekkady. The elevation is surely less, and it might not be as cold as it can be in Munnar. On these days, when the road to Munnar is not that great, we decided to go on another trip to Vagamon, and the result was an interesting one. The shooting of Pranav Mohanlal starrer Irupathionnaam Noottandu was going on at the place, and the number of tourists was low. The traffic was also low, and the roads were not that good. There are some areas where the road is in a pathetic state, thanks to the rain which was continuous and had hammered the state.

Well, the journey this time was still better than the last one, as there was not much of a crowd there, and the options were still there. We saw a new suicide point coming up as an attraction with those usual destinations, and it is certain that it could be something to look out for next time with much more being built around that area. There are not many restaurants here now either, as it used to be then. The town hasn’t really developed that much as Munnar and Thekkady did, and the Kurisumala Farm was closed at that time. But the climate was cooler than ever, and the fog added further beauty to the scenic world. It was the combination of Muharram, Sree Narayana Guru Jayanthi, Fourth Saturday and Sunday.

*All photos of Vagamon shown above were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone Max during my last visit.

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TeNy

Bangkok: A City that Loves You

The last few months, we have been reading about the Thailand Cave Rescue – Tham Luang cave rescue which was a large-scale rescue operation to find and rescue twelve boys from a local junior football team named the Wild Boars and their coach. The same has been on the news for long, and that brought me back to those memories at the nation which was wonderful. I had recently written about Pattaya, the city which we first visited, and for writing about Bangkok, the following pictures and their captions will tell the tale better than anything else. Well, there is no wonder about the fact that so many people are visiting Thailand with a Bangkok and Pattaya package – you will know why.

The lions at Safari World were crossing the road when we arrived.

Note the courage of that bird as it checks if the tigers are hungry.

All of these together at Safari World of Bangkok!

The skyline with the arrival of rain gets even more glorious.

Standing on that bridge and watching the traffic with fog around!

Some tall buildings catch your attention and they stay!

The beauty of modernity at night is not to be missed.

A city that stays beautiful throughout the night, and you feel love.

The Golden Buddha is in this beautiful temple of Wat Traimit.

Wat Benchamabophit with peace and serenity is also known as the Marble Temple.

***All photos on this blog post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone Max during my last visit to Thailand. Read interesting movie reviews here, here, here and here.

TeNy

Pattaya: Where Everyone Goes

A long time had passed since we wanted to go on a trip outside India, and my last foreign trip was the one to United Kingdom eight years ago in the same year in which the trip to Sri Lanka had happened. Here, the obvious choice of nation for a quick visit was Thailand, as most Keralites do prefer the country these days, and the other options like Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka were already covered by me. Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket have been becoming dream destinations for our people, especially Pattaya with its water sports, islands and beaches bringing quite the reputation.

Coral Islands of Pattaya, where you desire to go!

Even though the holiday packages have both Pattaya and Bangkok on the list, the former is the place where we get to spend more time. It is Bangkok where we arrive, at the Don Mueang International Airport to which Air Asia operates daily direct flights from Cochin. It is Suvarnabhumi Airport which seems to be the sight to behold though. But for now, the travellers from here will have to wait to have a flight to travel in that direction. Even though we arrive at the city of Bangkok first, the itinerary from the holiday agencies will have us beginning our expedition at Pattaya with a quick ride from the airport to the beach city.

The Pattaya about which you know from descriptions!

There is one mistake that we tend to make due to this travel plan, and it is that we leave the idea of buying goods to the end, and the problem here is that it is always cheaper in Pattaya than in Bangkok. The price of goods that you see in Pattaya is only going to get higher in Bangkok. So, waiting for the trip to get to the final stages before going shopping will be the wrong thing to do, unless you have a lot of money to spend. Pattaya also have a good number of Indian restaurants, and for us, they become the obvious choice – the selection of food is mostly North Indian though, with not much of a dosa team presence.

The Tiger Zoo is a fine place to begin the journey.

Just before we reach Pattaya City, there is Sriracha Tiger Zoo, situated on the outskirts of the city. The place claims to have the largest such populations of tigers and crocodiles for a zoo all around the world. The tickets would cost nearly one thousand rupees when converted, and will be part of almost all packages. There is a lot of space to walk around and souvenirs to buy, along with separate shows involving tigers, elephants, crocodiles and pigs. Indian breakfast was available there including Poori and Uppumavu. We can watch the tigers roaming around outside the glass, as we have food.

Parasailing is certainly a common sight out there.

At Pattaya, before anything else, finding an Indian restaurant was important to us, and there was one close – there were actually many of them to be exact. Then there are those shops on the side of the road, and there are those 7-Eleven and Family-Mart stores which come to save the day. These are those days when visiting McDonalds or Burger King are cheaper, and one finds tea to be the expensive drink. But the days are worth it, and spending on each and everything here is absolutely worth it. There were so many other Malayali families around there too, as it was the grand vacation time.

Pattaya’s Floating Market – expand your trip with this.

Then there is the programme on the way to Coral Islands and on the island, starting from parasailing which is done from a boat located a little away from the beach and underwater walk which are conducted from boats located further away from the coast. Watching some marine life and walking underwater was a different and interesting experience for sure, even though the water was not that much clear as expected – 1200 bahts for a person is worth it for sure, especially with a CD of the experience for 700 bahts. It is still something that is to be remembered for long. The time spent at the island is rather less, and one has to be quick to go through jet ski and banana boat, and there was not much time to explore out there – we avoided them for a walk.

The Sanctuary of Truth – one masterpiece on wood.

Pattaya was indeed a fine experience, and we spent a lot of time on the streets, especially late night. The journey to Bangkok followed, and leaving Pattaya surely didn’t feel good, as we never really felt that we had enough. Maybe, one needs to travel through Pattaya without a holiday package, and it should be just wandering. Some exploration lasting a few more days would do better, without doubt. The two extra additions to our packages were the Sanctuary of Truth and the Floating Market, both which should be part of any travel plan, former for its beautiful carvings on an astonishing structure and the latter for that kind of a market to which we are strangers. Well, others know Pattaya from Amar Akbar Anthony, but that movie had a silly reason.

*All photos were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone Max. My friends on Facebook can see more of our experiences at Pattaya.

TeNy