Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!
Have you ever participated in anything not knowing what you’re getting yourself into? Well, let me tell you the story about one of greatest fifteen days of my life as I share to you some of the most memorable experiences I have that took place in god’s own country – the beautiful Kerala.
About two month’s prior, one of my favorite travel blogger posted a link on Facebook noting that she took part in a voting contest asking friends and family to vote for her to be part of a press trip that will take her to South of India. It was Kerala Blog Express, a marketing campaign organized by Kerala Tourism where they ask bloggers, vloggers, and influencers to join their contest and whoever gets the highest votes get a chance to be part of their prestigious press trip. Thirty bloggers from thirty different countries will be chosen to travel on a bus for a trip of a lifetime to see the beautiful Kerala.
“Looks cool,” I told myself.
I registered, shared it on my personal Facebook, and sent it to my Dad whom I asked if he could tell the family to vote for me (forcefully if he can).
“You’ve been to India, right?” I asked my Dad
“Yes, I’ve been many times for work. You’ll love India; it is a beautiful country.” He replied
Aaaand I forgot about the whole event. I didn’t do any further marketing to get more votes nor asked more friends, so the idea of going to India just went away. I was busy, so I didn’t have the time to work on it. You know, as we all say, life happened.
A month later I got an email stating that I was shortlisted to be part of Kerala Blog Express. It was a coincidence because I was just reading about fish curries from Kerala because I am craving for curry but so sick of Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken. Meant to be? Could be, who knows.
I was ecstatic of course, but at the same time, I was not too comfortable flying across the world to spend fifteen days with strangers. The Finnish attitude was apparently kicking in, I need my space, and I need my quiet time.
Despite my worries, I know I will anyways have to bring back the Filipino in me out for a good time. What’s the worse thing that could happen between 30 bloggers in a bus on a road trip for fifteen days? Everyone’s well traveled, and the bloggers from the previous editions have nothing bad to say about this trip. I freaked out from time to time with the idea, but I got excited as hot chocolate fudge on vanilla ice cream!
I don’t even like hot chocolate fudge on vanilla ice cream! I know that it will be crazy and I’ll love it.
Boy, I was not wrong. It was certainly epic from start to finish.
After a long trip from Helsinki, I landed in Kochi (the starting point of our journey), I was greeted by the warm, humid weather of Kerala, and I melted like butter. It reminds me a bit of home, only they drive on the left, and they shake their heads for everything (which all bloggers adapted by the end of the trip, it was cute). Nevertheless, my heart was filled with happiness I thought I was crying, but it was just sweat, or maybe it was both, I don’t know.
“Have to get used to this heat because you’ll likely to have this in Finland?” I thought to myself.
I didn’t get used to it, but I’m happy I got my sunshine this year just in case mother nature hates Finland this year and decides to piss all summer again, at least I got my taste of summer in Kerala!
As the trip started, I already got the feeling that it is going to be a blast. There are all kinds of personalities in this trip, all amazing and so fun to travel with! I never went on a trip with a big group before and often prefer to go with close friends or family (like when I went to Venice with my sister, and to Malta with my partner), but it is amazing how thirty people (or twenty-nine, actually) from different corners of the world, from different walks of life, came together in a place so beautiful beyond words and had one of the best time of our lives.
It is amazing how the universe plans its course sometimes. It truly fascinates me.
For fifteen days we jumped from one lovely hotel to another, immersed ourselves in a culture so different from our own, enjoyed and savored the local delicacies, mingled with the locals, and of course enjoyed ourselves with whatever the beautiful Kerala have to offer.
We started our trip from Kochi and ended it in Trivandrum, but in between, we visited almost all corners of the state from South to North, from East to West. Our journey took long bus rides, but with the scenic view you’ll witness with your own eyes along the way, the butt pain was worth it.
What interested me the most is, of course, the culture, traditions, and the local cuisine and I was overwhelmed with Kerala’s rich culture that at one point I could no longer keep up with the words, meanings, and the reasons behind everything. Trust me when I say this – each state, village, and tribes have their culture and traditions different from each other. Thankfully we had the most fantastic guide along with us who could answer all my silly questions!
“Oh, Mother Nature you so beautiful!” is I think my most overused sentence the whole trip.
With all seriousness, I’ve been to places where Mother Nature impressed me a lot, but the moment I laid eyes on some of Kerala’s most unearthed destinations, I was in awe.
For instance, when we were high up in the mountain in a place called Munnar, I took a leap and challenged myself physically by trekking for four hours panting and struggled but succeeded and climbed that fudging Phantom (that’s the name of the mountain, and yes, it made sense after the trek).
“Few more steps, come on! You can do it!” the guide was shouting to me from the top with a grin on his face as the other guide drags me to reach the top.
Surely, I was on the verge of giving up (and crying) for every step I took, swore in three languages, blamed the cigarettes I don’t know how many times, promised to get back to the gym, and prayed to the gods that I don’t die on that mountain at the age of twenty-six – but I survived. I fudging made it to the top of the Phantom!
Despite all my complaints along the way, my vertigo, and as well my couch perfect physicality, I did survive the trek, and all sweat and tears were rewarded with one of the most stunning views I’ve seen so far – Mother Nature at her finest, I must say. She’s a stunner.
Apart from the amazing views, I made so many good memories in Kerala which I now share with a bunch of once a bunch of strangers turned friends, and I think that’s what made this trip so amazing – sharing life experiences with like-minded people who not only love traveling but also living life to the fullest.
That said, this adventure was certainly a trip of a lifetime and the best part of it all, the memories and experiences will stay with me forever. Ever. Seriously. I’ll never forget this trip.
I mean, I did share a bed with a stranger after knowing her for a good three days. That counts as an experience, right?
I enjoyed it.
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- Have you ever been to beautiful Kerala? How was your experience?
- What do you feel about traveling with strangers?
- Have you traveled with big groups before? Let me know!
DISCLAIMER: This trip was made possible thanks to Kerala Blog Express and Kerala Tourism. As always, all thoughts and views are my own.