I’d always had India on my bucket list ever since starting yoga some 30 years ago. I just never got round to it. There were the usual barriers like children, full time career, lack of money and time to spare. Now I am a mature independent woman experiencing new relaxing adventures.
One thing I am most certain of now is that It Is Never Too Late for a change in Lifestyle! In fact as the years go by, the more I want that change. I hope you do too and have found my blog and website that will support and motivate you to make some lifestyle-changes to take you into your later years having fun!
On leaving London in a wet and cold December, I was setting off on one of my long awaited adventures to what turned out to be my home-coming. From the moment I stepped on India’s soil, I felt comfortable, at home and excited to be there and very welcome indeed.
It’s a bit of a process to get into India – not drawn out, but a little challenging. You need an e-visa. The challenge is that you are required to send a copy of your passport and a photo that is the size the Indian Embassy want, and not what is on your laptop! Yes, it did reduce me to tears late one night as I battled with my scanner to get the size down. It took another two days to finally click the right button and get it right. And hey presto, they were accepted and the visa was issued within 24 hours. The tip here is to learn how to reduce the size of a document BEFORE you begin the visa application.
You will also need your personal details, names and birth places of your parents, all the countries you have visited in the last 10 years (I never did fit all of mine on there), and the documents in the right size and format – JPEG from 10 KB to 1 MB max – NO variations.
On arrival at Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) I was fortunate to arrive during India’s New Year holiday period so there were not many westerners were going through Immigration. After having my fingerprints taken and documentation checked and stamped – about 20 minutes – I was on my way. Take note – it had taken a friend of mine 2 hours when she went in March!
Although not strictly necessary to have booked a cab from the airport to my first the hotel, it did make life smoother to start the trip off. I used Rideways and booked on line beforehand – it was really easy and I was met by the driver, holding a placard with my name on. If you decide not to book, choose your cab carefully and confirm the full cost with the driver BEFORE you get in the cab. More on this in later Blogs.
You cannot take Indian Rupees into or out of India, so your first port of call must be the ATM (although US dollars are welcome sometimes). Make sure your cards are working before you leave home (two of my credit cards managed to get blocked/damaged prior to leaving home, luckily I also had a debit card which saved my trip).
Now I was on my way. This is where synchronicity kicked in. The first hotel I had booked in Kovalam had no trace whatsoever of my booking, however hard I proved it to them. As I was learning fast, being in India, life is relaxed and the unexpected happens. A young Indian man sprang from nowhere after hearing my plight and immediately “phoned a friend” and got me a room at another nearby (much better and cheaper) hotel. After some trepidation, I agreed to him travelling with me in a cab and he absolutely insisted on taking no money whatsoever for his service. Amazing Indian hospitality in full play!
Next Blog stop – Kovalam – Lighthouse, beach, guitar playing and beer!
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