My rendezvous with Varkala

I still can’t believe I took such a long hiatus since my last post. What have I been upto in that time? Well, I joined a new job for starters, travelled to Cambodia,Vietnam,Dubai and I’m finally here. Well rested. Well maybe I’ve been a bit stressed lately, but hopefully things will calm down.

In the meanwhile,let me tell you about the lovely weekend I had at Varkala during the last long weekend. Now I’m originally from Kerala, and I’ve been dyiiiing to go there since the longest time. Well, me and my friends were finally able to make the trip, and boy was it worth it!

It started with a bus journey from Bangalore and might I add, a really really long bus journey to Trivandrum. We made a short pit stop at a friends place at Trivandrum, and this was the view from her apartment. Fabulous, isn’t it?

We then took a cab till Varkala and landed at the place we had booked. A place called Nalukettu Heritage Resort. Now, I don’t think the place classifies as a resort. It’s more inclined towards being a home stay.No frills. Nothing fancy, but it was run by a sweet couple named Midhun and arathi, who went beyond their way to make the stay lovely. More about that later.

Once we had freshened up, we headed over to the beach of course. The beach is a 9 min walk from the place we stayed, but we later came to know that there were many other hotels available on the cliff and they all seemed to be a bit nicer than the place we had chosen. Oh well.

The view from the cliff

Day one was basically just spent on the beach, and the cliff. And of course, a lot of food. Seafood!!

This was at a place named Abba
Banoffee pie at Coffee Temple

Day 2

Now day 2 was definitely the highlight of the trip. After having talked to the owner Midhun, he said he would take us on a boat to an island.We were super pumped about this, but before we headed there, we obviously had to wake up for the sunrise.

So we headed to the beach at 6am, did some yoga,got back, had breakfast, and then headed for our mini adventure.

Now, forgive me for this, but I don’t honestly recall the name of the place that we ended up at but boy was it exquisite. Midhun had asked us to pack our swimsuits as there was an area we could go swimming in. Now if you have followed by last blog posts, you’d know that I just learned swimming. So I jump at any opportunity that presents itself where I do get to swim.

Look where I ended up!

I mean I will never ever forget this part of the trip. To be the only ones swimming in the backwaters, and feeling the water around me, the mud beneath my feet. It was indeed an exquisite feeling.We spend a good 3 hours just swimming, and having fun, and by 3 pm, we were dead hungry. Midhun being the gracious host that he was decided to us to a Kallu shappu( Toddy shop). This is basically a place that the locals go to for fiery beef fry and kerala porotta and of course toddy combination. Slurp(for those who don’t know, toddy is liquor made from Coconuts)

The place we went to was called Velliyazcha Kavu.We ended up ordering, fish, beef, chicken, kappa,and Kerala porotta

IMG_20180127_212702_231.jpg
Damn, I’m hungry

After this, we headed back to our stay for a siesta, and then by 6, headed out again to see the sunset and to also visit the Varkala aquarium.

Since we had a heavy dinner, we decided to skip it and go for desserts instead and headed to Cafe del Mar. My advice. Please don’t go there. The service is run by some lazy ass waiters who honestly shouldn’t be working as waiters.We went back again to Coffee temple to have our Banoffe Pie but it was a little disappointing this time around. Overall, a bad night! Headed back home a tad disappointed.

Day 3

This was our lazy last day.Once again, we woke up, had a lazy stroll at the beach, headed to another beach. By 3, we headed back to the cliff for a long lunch by the beach. By 5, it was time to wrap things up and get back home.

I know this wasn’t a long trip, but for those of you who are wondering whether to include Varkala in your travel itinerary, I would say hell yes! I urge you to go. And maybe stay longer than we did. 🙂

Adios.

A slice of Cambodia in two weeks

I know I’ve not been active as I promised I would be. It’s been a busy month, and November started on a high note.Me and my boyfriend have been in a long distance relationship for over a year now and we had finally decided to meet up after 7 months of being apart. Since I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have a cash inflow, we decided to go to Cambodia(read cheap).My budget for the whole trip was around 60000 Rs, and fortunately we were able to stay within the budget.Here is how we planned our trip.

Flights and Visa

Our flights were booked 3 months in advance, and were booked separately. He was flying in from Paris,France and I was flying from Bangalore India.The flight from Bangalore to Phnom penh cost me about 220000 Rs. Once that was settled, I got my visa from https://www.evisa.gov.kh/ and the process was super simple, and cost be around 3200 Rs.On landing at the airport,all you have to do is show your e-visa along with your passport and voila, you’re in!

Phnom Penh

Day 1-2

Day 1
So here’s the deal. We didn’t really plan our trip or have a strict itinerary in mind.The idea was to just go with the flow. The only thing pre booked was our stay for 2 nights at PP. So, on arriving at the airport, we got a local sim for 15 dollars, and then got us a cab( I still had some dollars remaining from my US trip). The cab from the airport to our hotel cost us 12$.

We had booked the okay boutique hotel at PP(33 $ per night). The location is pretty ideal, and was at a walking distance to the royal palace, central market and the riverside. We didn’t have a lot planned the first day, so we just explored the central market(Ben got his currency exchanged), and then had dinner at the riverside.The plan for the next day was to visit the S21 and the killing field museum.We got a half day trip planned courtesy our hotel for about 16$( not inclusive of the entry fee).

Day 2
We started by visiting the Choeung Ek Genocidal center. On entering, this is the first thing you see.Majestic, isn’t it. I would highly recommend taking the audio tour. The visit was a humbling experience as well as an emotional one and one that should not be missed.

IMG_20161102_195303.jpg

IMG_20161102_195019.jpg

Once we were done with the tour, we headed back to our hotel so as to plan our next destination. But before you leave, make sure you visit the Foreign correspondents club or FCC. Yes, it’s expensive, but we loved the place and the ambiance.

Day 3- Kratie

Ben was hell bent on dolphin watching, so the next thing we did was to catch a bus to Kratie. Again, we booked this from the hotel. We got a Sorya bus at around 7 in the morning, and reached kratie by around 3pm.(cost us 20$) We had booked a hostel the previous night, and I don”t remember the precise name(i think it was dolphin hostel) but boy, it was awful. The rooms, the halls all smelled of toilet water, and the it cost us around 18$. Fortunately, we had booked only for a night,so the plan was to check out as soon as possible once we were done with the dolphin watching.

15032157_10157702858470291_3242843990221138935_n
The food we had so far

Day 4

The next morning, we first went for a trek in the mountainous area with a temple nearby and then headed out to watch the dolphins.Was it worth it? Heck yes! It was fabulous to watch the dolphins in their natural habitat without humans feeding them.

Once that was done, we checked out and headed over to Le Tonle Guesthouse.It was slightly more expensive but the rooms were clean, and comfy and the food was to die for.Don’t forget to try out their Amok!

14925821_10157652137615291_8193139838073761242_n

Day 5-Off to Siem Reap

There isn’t a direct bus to Siem Reap, so we took a bus till Kampong Chang and then took a connecting bus to Siem Reap. The bus ride was arduous and long, and by the time we reached the hotel, it was around 7pm. We had booked 3 nights at the Angkor Orchid Central Hotel. Once again, the location was ideal, and was extremely close to the night market. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, all we did have dinner and call it a night. The temples were beckoning us for an early start next day.

14980765_10157652166570291_8884683119459043640_n
Fried Tarantulas at Kampong Chang

Day 6-Temple Hop and Insect Eating time!

It was finally time to visit the one thing that Cambodia was most famous for. The temples. In order to visit the temples, you have to head to the ticket center first, and get your tickets. You can choose between 1 day ticket, 3 day ticket and a 7 day ticket. We chose a 3 day ticket simply because a two day ticket didn’t exist. It cost us 40$ per person.The temple tours start from 5am and end at 5pm. Once we had our tickets, we headed over to the first stop, which was the most famous Angkor Wat temple.Guides are available for hire at the spot, but we decided to go ahead without a guide.The day was hot and just after an hour we were covered in grime and sweat.Few of the complexes we visited that stood out were Pre Rup, and Preah Khan. The sight of the gigantic tree roots growing through the ruins is definitely a sight that is both stunning and mind boggling and was quite unlike anything we had seen before.

One word of advice:The temple visits can get difficult in bad weather since there is a lot of climbing to do, and by 5pm, we were dead beat. However, ben wanted to hire a bike for the next day, so we walked around and finally managed to rent a bike. (you have t submit your passport in order to rent a bike)

After this we took a break and then headed out to the Siem Reap market to find a cafe where we could try out some bugs. Yes, you heard me right. Bugs! I never thought I’d say  this, but it was delicious!! Definitely a must try. The night market is bustling with activity, and pubs are open till late at night. I loved the vibe of the place, and it definitely is a great place to let your hair down.

14938220_10157667339240291_4653825727679566945_n Continue reading “A slice of Cambodia in two weeks”