I am captivated by the magic of India and this was my second trip to this fascinating country. As I stepped out of the airport at Chennai where we were to stay for the first couple of days, I put aside my Western values and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the noise, the smells (aromatic and otherwise!), the madness of the roads and traffic, the vibrant colour and the friendliness and charming personalities of the Indian people, wherever we happened to be. I travelled solo (as did several others), however, the group comprising equally of Australians and Brits were just so encompassing. We became one big family almost instantaneously, together with a great escort who was polite, and helpful to the nth degree.
After an early morning start to catch the train to the elegant garden city of Bangalore and spending the night there, we began our bus trip to Kerala in the south taking in the small villages and towns all full of interest; the temples and amazing carved monuments, the cultural sights and visits to local places of work plus of course enjoying the wonderful food (such a choice!) and the comforts of our hotels and the fine service they provided. Driving through the beautiful mountains and winding through the tea plantations is quite breathtaking. Nature walks by the river through the plantations provided welcome breaks.
Boarding the houseboat in Nedumudy before lunch, the overnight stay (5-6 in each boat together with a crew of 3 to spoil us) felt as if we spent a much longer time on the Kerala Backwaters as it was so relaxing. We moved through the quiet waters observing the villagers getting on with their everyday lives and us, just part of the backwater lazy traffic.
A defining moment for me was in Coonor. We stayed at the Gateway Hotel Church Gate, a tranquil location. Coming out of my individual cottage accommodation into the lush gardens first thing in the morning it was a little chilly, spitting slightly (the only rain we encountered) and misty. I stopped. It was magic. It was India.