When people asked why I was going to India, “I’m going for a white girl, lesbian wedding” generally wasn’t the answer they were expecting. When best friends Ash and Alley, told us about their love back in 2012, some were surprised, others saw it coming, but no one thought they would be attending the wedding in India just two and a half years later…
The thought of doing 4 days at RnV straight onto India literally made me fear for my life, but as new years night fell into the morning of the 1st, I was not only still awake and partying in the crowd, but excitement had taken over and no matter how hard the travel would be, I was going to arrive. My mission was to fly from Gisbourne-Auckland, Auckland-Singapore, Singapore-Mumbai and finally 30 hours later, Mumbai-Cochin. With a few hours of transit at each airport, some crappy plane food and a sleeping pill we arrived with a 3 hour taxi to take us to the backwaters of Kerala.
We arrived via tuk-tuks to a ferry boat that was to take us to our houseboats. My group had the biggest houseboat, with 4 bedrooms, there was 12 of us (including 3 workers) on the boat in total. There was nothing I had to do, no where I had to be, just my book and my friends around me. You can’t swim in the backwaters here, because all the families and people who live along the riverside bathe, swim, wash their clothes and go to the toilet in this water! Didn’t stop Ashleigh jumping in at one point tho…Gross. After 3 days of boating, it was definitely time to move on and see what else India had to offer, I’d finally re-coperated and was ready to go.
Fort Cochin is a beach town still part of Kerala but just a few hours taxi from the backwaters. On arrival, the town was quite similar to a little European town, with little hotels stacked along next to each other, flowers and little wee balconies poking out.
We spent the rest of our travel day finding somewhere to eat and exploring around. The beach can hardly be called a beach, theres rubbish everywhere and two huge industrial tanks just out from the ocean, plus the water wasn’t swimmable but it was still very fun and exciting, with lots to look at, people selling things and little children running around too. We stopped at a hotel for lunch and boy was this a mistake….The food took, I’d say… 2 hours to arrive, and I think I’d totally underestimated the disorganized and slow nature of the people here. Finally when our food arrived, it wasn’t amazing and we all ended up in fits of laughter. – Word of advice…if you’re expecting the same service as the Westin World, don’t! haha
My first experience with bartering was interesting…and I could tell I was going to be useless at it. The thought of getting the price down to dirt cheap made me feel guilty, so I’d always give up and let them have a little bit more. Getting a massage was an interesting one also…luckily I missed out on one because the girls tell me it was pretty invasive, being butt naked and massaged everywhere…EVERYWHERE and then bathed clean again?! wtf haha.
We went for a tuk tuk tour looking at the washing quarters, the spice markets and the ginger markets. This was a fun experience. The way the woman still wash clothes is almost primitive, theres no washing machines or dryers, and the irons were like 5 kgs! They still wash all the clothes in tanks of water by scrubbing it on a washing board and whacking it on the ground. The spice markets were fun too, full of flavors and interesting smells.
A cooking class in India they said…it will be fun they said… On arrival, thinking we’d have little stations, food and utensils each, we came to the realization the but boy were we wrong…Crammed in this tiiiiiiiiiny tiny kitchen, hot as hell, we (6 of us) stood for 3 hours while this Indian woman talked us through 5 dishes. At first this was hilarious, but we soon got irritated and our feet got sore. But the food was so worth it and the little Indian woman was really authentic.
PALOLEM BEACH, GOA
This was the view from our beach front shacks, a hotel called Cairns which I highly recommend. Its eco friendly, so no flushing toilet paper down the toilet, you had to put everything like that in the bin beside you! Weird concept huh. But the room was really cool with a double bed, a big mosquito net and a tree coming right through the room and out the roof. We went kayaking with dolphins jumping and it was hard to believe the this was the same India we had seen 2 days earlier.The food here was unreal, there was such a variety of food from soups and salads, to curries, meat and seafood. Everything was cooked amazing but of course everything took hours to arrive at the tables…and sometimes just never did.
Walking down the beach was adventurous and we found ourselves walking over a rickety bridge, through some hotels on the cliffs, around a few bays until we hit a more local area. This is the sorta shit I love while traveling, just exploring and going for a wonder, not really knowing when to stop. On the way back to the hotel we found ourselves a rock to swim out too and jump off and this just topped off the day and my experience of Palolem.
We headed 45 minutes South to a new beach in Goa called Dwarka. This was just beautiful. There is nothing to do here, and thats the beauty of it, its like being marooned on an island in paradise. There was a fresh water lagoon (in the front of the pic) the beach, then the ocean and you could swim in either. Our hotel huts were running parallel to the lagoon and the sights were something you see out of The Jungle Book. It looked surreal. We spent our first day chilling on the beach, swimming and taking a boat ride to Agonda Beach where we had the best swim in the world.
Here comes the shit part, literally… during our stay here, the infamous Dehli Belly roared its head and hit us hard. For 8 hours my friend and I were hugging the toilet bowl, so violently sick that it made me wish I was home. People have this scary thought of getting sick in India but trust me, its even scarier while its happening to you. Over the course or 2 days, 14 out of our crew of 23 people dropped with the sickness, and although well never know what it was from, I was very put off food from then on. I guess it was lucky and unlucky that we got sick in Dwarka. Lucky because we had proper functioning toilets and no activities or things to do, and unlucky because we missed out on enjoying the beautiful beach for those two horrible days.
Word of advice when traveling to India:
– Take baby wipes (lots of them)
– Hand sanitizer (lots of it)
– Electrolyte sachets (again…take a lot)
Haha sounds brutal, but its a must.
YOGA MAGIC, ANJUNA, GOA
Leaving Dwarka, though I felt 100% healthy again, was hard for most. People were still sick and it was such a shame as it took away from the excitement of arriving at the wedding destination Yoga Magic. On arrival I was so excited I could burst, Alley and Ash had been talking this place up for so long and I coundnt wait to see it. It was all made of cow dung and clay, moulded in a way to form pathways, seats and benches. It had a really free and open feel about it which was really nice and for the rest of the day we just enjoyed each others company and chilled. That night we slept like kings in beautiful Indian tents, each were colored, ours yellow and it was truly epic!
What was most refreshing about this place was the continental breaky in the morn. There was fresh and organic muesli, fresh fruit and yogurt with honey and it was to die for! After eating curry, curry and curry for 2 weeks, it was amazing. Other than the beaches, the flea markets are the most popular place to visit in Anjuna. Basically, its a market day to barter away over clothing, jewellery, and souvenirs. We picked through the rubbish to seek out treasures, including sparkling ceiling hangings, wall tapestries, pants, bags, and kitchen ware. Even though I didn’t come hope loaded with shopping, it was an unmissable event.
The wedding day came next and boy were we excited. Everything had been kept so quiet by the brides Ash and Alley, so we had no idea what to expect! Being one of Alleys bridesmaids, we got ready with her in her parents room. We drank champagne, did our hair, put on our makeup, then our dresses, and finally helped Alley get into her absolutely mind blowing wedding dress. She looked like a million dollars, so colorful and so beautiful.
The ceremony itself, was insane. We danced down the aisle instead of walked, both parents (mum and dad) gave the two girls away instead of just the father and the ceremony was beautifully spiritual instead of religious. I cried like a baby throughout the whole thing, as did everyone around me I think! The reception, dinner and after party were all a part of making the day/night so special and it couldn’t have been better, especially in a country where things rarely go to plan.
Finally it was home time, and although I wanted to explore so many amazing other parts of India, I was ready to come home to a toilet, shower, food and being able to brush my teeth with tap water. I’ve learnt how fortunate and lucky I am to live in NZ and that no matter how tough it may seem when you’re feeling down, there are others who are much worse off than you. I’ve learnt that my friends mean the absolute world to me and I can’t wait to start saving for the next adventure.
Leah | free & addicted