India

Plan to visit Kerala?

Helpful Notes and Charity

CHARITY (IDEAS - INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH EDUCATION, ART AND SPORT)

Having visited Kerala since the mid 1990's, it was so obvious that much could be done to help people and families less fortunate than others and at little cost. So, I decided to create a charity through which money could be raised to help the problems.

We have a UK bank account to which you can send donations on a one off or regular basis. Details of the bank account are on the WHY NOT HELP? page:

Many thanks to all of you who have made, and several of you who continue to make donations large and small, that have helped so many people in the Kovalam area of Kerala in South India.

THANK YOU SO MUCH If you are feeling kind-hearted, why not make a one-off or a monthly donation and/or organise a simple fund raising event.

Also, a BIG THANK YOU to several running clubs who have made donations from races and events that they have organised.

HELPFUL NOTES ON VISITING INDIA

Malaria

Kerala is a non-malarial zone and despite what your doctors advise, you do not need to take the terrible tasting malaria tablets. I am still going strong without taking them for many, many years.

Food

The range of food and the tastes is enormous and you should not be afraid to eat in the humblest of places...the food is invariably fresh and tasty and very inexpensive. You can ask for your food to be more or less spicy according to your palate. Remember that if you eat in a beachside restaurant, of which there are many, be prepared to wait especially if there are a lot of customers...the extent of kitchen ware is limited.

I regularly eat in local, open-fronted hotels (hotel = local cafe!!) and enjoy the limited range of food on any one day...but far less expensive than at beach restaurants. For a treat, I go into Trivandrum to one of a few excellent hotels (proper hotels) for an evening buffet...eat what you like for from about R200/- to R400/-.....with a couple of soups, a range of fish dishes, a wider range of meat and veggie dishes, at least 10 or more salads and then, my favourites, an extensive dessert table. Kumari will advise you.

Also, why not ask Kumari to prepare an evening meal for you. She will buy the ingredients for you, or better still, take you shopping for them either in the city or in shops at the Junction

Swimming

The enticing warm Arabian Sea is not far from the house and the advice of the lifeguards should be regarded, as there can be undercurrents. An alternative is to pay for a day at one of the local hotels that have a swimming pool. The rate includes a sun bed….and peace from the beach vendors who sometimes can be annoying.

As a day out, for yougn and old alike, why not have a trip to the Happyland Water Park...if is great fun and at the age of 69 and not keen on water, I LOVED it: http://www.happylandtvm.com

Hair Dryer and Iron

There is a dryer and an iron in the house and also a full-length mirror just so that you can check yourself over before going out. There is also a twin-tub washing machine.

Eyes & Teeth

From personal experience, I can fully recommend that if you need new specs or have dental problems, then use the services of the excellent facilities in Trivandrum. Kumari, the housekeeper will advise you and make arrangements on your behalf. Recently, one friend had no less that 10 crowns fitted and was delighted with the speed and efficiency of the service.

General Health Issues & Health Checks

If you have any medical problem, no matter how small or significant, it is well worth you visiting one of the excellent hospitals to have an examination and perhaps even anoperation.

In March 2010, I had an Executive Health Check at a local hospital including x-ray and full check of the vital organs all for about  £35. It was a brilliant service and I had a full consultation with a doctor and a cardiologist. Worth spending a morning having your own personal MOT.

Travelling Around

The main ways to get about are by auto rickshaw, taxi, local buses and trains. Of course, it is possible to rent scooters and motor bikes (Royal Enfield for the enthusiasts). Buses cost a mere R9/- to get the 16kms into the city centre and beat anything that Alton Towers can offer in the way of thrills and excitement. Also, at the beginning of 2010, new AC buses were introduced and cost about R26/- and more recently a similar bus but non-AC has been introduced at R14/-

Trains and Planes

These are two other wonderful way to travel around the country, trains for shorter journeys in the South of the country and planes for travelling further afield. Train take about 4 1/2 hours to Cochin (Ernakulam) for around R120/- 2nd class. Great food is always on offer throughout the journey. Another good place to visit is the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu with the wonderful Meenakshi Temple. Then, much closer is the other main beach resort of Varkala that you can travel to be train – or even bus, taxi or rickshaw.

Low cost airlines provide the opportunity to travel to places further afield for a day or two during your stay - Chennai, Mumbai and even to such amzing places as Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.

Suggested Trips

Obviously, the first thing that most people want to do when visiting my home is to relax and so a few days on the beach and wandering around the many 'interesting' footpaths is the best option.

Then, perhaps you might be interested in such things as a day trip to Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India - stopping off at a most wonderful Palace en route; http://www.kanyakumari.org.in

a day trip up into the Western Ghats through the tea plantations to Ponmudi : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponmudi

a half day trip to Neyyar Dam and its lion reserve, elephant sanctuary, crocodile farm and a ride in a speed boat on the large lake : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neyyar_Dam

Trips further afield include overnight stays in Cochin (Dutch Palace, Synagogue) : http://www.cochin.org/

an overnight stay on a rice boat (romantic!!!); visiting the wildlife parks at Munnar : http://www.munnar.com/ and Peryiar : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periyar_District

PLEASE DO NOT book any trip before you leave home…there are always ways of booking (usually through our housekeeper) and it is much, much cheaper than through UK or other western travel agencies….and much of the money stays in the west rather than helping the local economy.

A good general site for information on Kerala, go to : http://www.keralacapital.org/Places-to-Visit.html

Ayevedic Treatment

Kerala and the whole of southern India is home to a specialist form of treatment using natural herbs and oils, mostly prepared by the doctor's and practicitioners themselves. People come from all over the world to have the various treatments, far too many and complex for me to outline here.....however, you can check on the internet and if you feel that it suits you, then give it a whirl. The doctor Dr Bhadran) in the photo below is first class and is seen treating one of the people we support who has been paralysed for some years and who actually felt some pain sensation in his toe after treatment - showing his nervous system had not completely destroyed as a result of his fall

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