Sagar | My Travel | Kerala

.My Travel - Kerala

   
               


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Dates Visited

Been here twice:
December 2009 - Traveled with coworkers (to Alleppey, Munnar, Thekkady, Kochi);
May-June 2016 - Traveled Solo (to Kovalam);




Kerala - Review

Well, I fall short of words when it comes to describing Kerala. It's so pristine that it has been termed as "God's Own Country".

I went there first with my coworkers during our Christmas Holidays.




Alleppey, White Saand Resort - Review

Good experience. This was during my first trip with my coworkers in December 2009.

Alleppy has beautiful White Sand beaches. We stayed at White Saand, Heritage Homely Stay, and enjoyed ourselves.

We also rode the Alleppey backwaters, and it was great.




Kovalam - Review

My second Kerala Trip - this time Solo - from 30-May to 5-June, 2016.

TRAVEL:
* Jet Airways from Pune (PNQ) to Bangalore (BLR). Layover for 4 hrs 35 mins (which got excruciatingly painfully delayed by 2 hrs 45 mins). Followed by Jet Airways flight from BLR to Trivandrum (TRV) (STD: 5:45 pm. ATD: 8:30 pm)
* Air India flight from TRV to BLR (6:15 am). Layover of 3 hrs 30 mins at BLR and Jet Airways from BLR to PNQ (1:35 pm).
* In-flight Meals: All four flights (Jet Airways and Air India) provided me complimentary good vegetarian in-flight meals to and fro.

TRV Airport to Soma Palmshore:
* Booked a pre-paid Taxi at Rs. 500/-
* Later heard that Ola Cabs from TRV to Kovalam only costs up to Rs. 170/-

AIRPORTS:
* There are two airports at Trivandrum. One is the old Airport, and another is the Terminal 2 (bigger airport with four departure gates as of today) International Airport.
* So, even if you're travelling within India and you ask the Cab driver to take you to the Domestic Airport, he might take you to the old Airport, which may not be the one you're looking for.
* Check your ticket, and be specific about going to Terminal 2 (if that's where you're supposed to go).

RESORT:
Soma Palmshore - reviewed separately on TripAdvisor

BEACHES:
I went to the Lighthouse Beach and Hawa Beach only, and they were pretty good. Very nice views.

FOOD:
* Had food mostly at the Lighthouse Beach. Very expensive. Nothing costs less than Rs. 120/- (at least in Vegetarian options). Had no choice but to waste money (and food too).

SEASON:
* It was the off-season, and I heard that it rained heavily before I arrived. I also heard predictions of heavy rains after my departure. I am just very lucky!
* People tend to get a bit dull, demotivated, and unenthusiastic (some arrogant) during the off-season.
* Some of them are very desperate for money.
* They do not provide services or food items just because of the off-season, which is funny and surprising to me!

ROUGH SEAS DURING OFF-SEASON:
* I would have concluded that Kovalam's sea is not at all suitable for "playing" or swimming (because I am not a geologist), but the sea was rough (not because it's off-season, but) because of the monsoon season.
* There were always 10-15 feet high rough and scary waves.

LEARNINGS:
* Carry change. A restaurant owner got very upset and said some nasty things to me, because (first) I had milk at night (during off-season when he was customer-less) and (second) showed him a Rs. 500/- note. He had no change due to no customers.
* Carry change. An auto-rickshaw driver gave me Rs. 30/- back (to my 100 rupees note) only because he had that much in his pocket.
* I learned that it's better to pre-book and secure all your Meals at the hotel itself, even if it costs a bit higher. As far as Soma Palmshore is concerned, the quality of their food is pretty good, so it's better than moving around tasting or experimenting with food.




Munnar and Thekkady - Review

This was during my first trip with my coworkers in December 2009. I wrote this page in 2016, when I hardly remembered these trips, but from whatever my memory remembers, it was a beautiful experience.

I remember walking on the streets of Munnar on cold December nights with my coworkers. We went to a church there, did some shopping, and had a nice warm dinner at a Vegetarian Restaurant.

It was great. I hope to visit these places again in the future.




Poovar Backwater Cruise - Review

Worth visiting. My second Kerala Trip - this time Solo - from 30-May to 5-June, 2016.

DATE VISITED:
Thu, 2-Jun-2016

RIDE TAKEN:
2 hours Solo ride (costed me INR 2,500/-)

REACHING THERE:
I took a cab from my resort (Soma Palmshore, Kovalam) at Rs. 500/- return (i.e. to and fro). The Leela Backwater Cruise was at around 15-16 kms from my resort. My resort was charging nearly twice the amount, so I preferred booking a cab right outside my resort on my own.

EXPERIENCE:
I've captured my experience in a video (available here), and it was worth the visit. I was alone on my boat, and I enjoyed the ride.

The cruise (boat) took me to the Mangrove Forest, Golden Sands Beach, Floating Restaurant (too expensive), and Forest Island. The boat driver was friendly, and knowledgeable.

The beautiful views, fruits hanging on trees, and birds resting on the branches made the visit worth it. Don't forget to check out my video.

This is a must visit for nature-lovers, greenery-lovers, couples, and photography enthusiasts. Below are a few clicks by me.





Soma Palmshore, Kovalam - Review

My second Kerala Trip - this time Solo - from 30-May to 5-June, 2016.

After a lot of research on places to stay in Kovalam, I finally bumped into Soma Palmshore, and read only good reviews about it on TripAdvisor. I chose to finalize the Cottage stay for a Single person (me).

I've recorded many videos and VLogs on and of it, available here. Posted on Facebook on this link as well.

DATES TRAVELED / STAYED:
Check-in: Mon, 30-May-2016
Check-out: Sun, 05-Jun-2016

If you stayed during this time, yes, I was that "photographer" moving around with a camera and tripod

TRAVEL:
* Jet Airways from Pune to Bangalore
* Layover for 4 hrs 35 mins (which got excruciatingly painfully delayed by 2 hrs 45 mins)
* Jet Airways flight from Bangalore to Trivandrum (TRV) (STD: 5:45 pm. ATD: 8:30 pm)

TRV Airport to Soma Palmshore:
* Booked a pre-paid Taxi at Rs. 500/-
* Later heard that Ola Cabs from TRV to Kovalam only cost up to Rs. 170/-

AIRPORTS:
* There are two airports at Trivandrum. One is the old Airport, and another is the Terminal 2 (bigger airport with four departure gates as of today) International Airport.
* So, even if you're travelling within India and you ask the Cab driver to take you to the Domestic Airport, he might take you to the old Airport, which may not be the one you're looking for.
* Check your ticket, and be specific about going to Terminal 2 (if that's where you're supposed to go).


BOOKING AT SOMA PALMSHORE:
* 30-May-2016: Standard Room (chose this option for the first day, because I was going to Check-in very late)
* 31-May to 5-Jun-2016: Independent, Private Cottage

BENEFIT OF THE FLIGHT DELAY:
The Staff (Mr. Srikant) at Soma Palmshore was gracious enough to give me the Cottage from the first day itself. This saved me a lot of hassles of shifting on the 31st. I stayed in the Cottage from the 30th night itself.

LOCATION:
Soma Palmshore is located very close to the Vizhinjam Lighthouse, in between the Vizhinjam and Lighthouse Beach. The location is perfect for a relaxing stay. They have a direct exclusive access to the beach. It's not their privately owned beach though. It is open to other people (viz., school/college students come to play football there from over a mountain).

ACCESS TO THE BEACH:
* The sea was rough during this time, because of the monsoon, so they had pretty restricted access to the beach. The security guards were very particular about making sure that the guests did not go near the water. That's a good thing, and they are really responsible Security Guards.
* Soma Palmshore has their Life Guard as well, which is good to know.
* Two people drowned near the same beach 2 days before I went to the resort.

ROOM:
* Not a room. Mine was a wonderful cottage. 1 BH, as I call it.
* This Cottage (# 110) is the closest to the beach entrance, and one gets the best view of the sea from there (in terms of proximity).
* Glass windows in front of the bed open the view to the Arabian Sea, and the view is breathtaking.
* Clean, spacious, gorgeous, relaxing, privacy-assured. Bathroom was very clean as well.
* Room Service lady cleaned the entire cottage daily.
* There's a garden / lawn outside the cottage, with two chairs and a relaxing swing.
* I saw an insect or two inside my cottage / bathroom, but that's natural, and it makes me feel close to the nature. No complaints!
* A lot of trees and greenery around.
* The reception is a good ~ 100 meters uphill walk from the Cottage, so you should take this only if your feet are fit.
* My 5/5 for the Room / Room's Location
NOTE: They have another cottage on a higher level (# 210), but it's a bit far, and it looks over the swimming pool and the beach, but I wouldn't have preferred that.

COSTS:
* Obviously, of all the rooms, this was the most expensive, but worth it. This was off-season, and I'm sure the costs are much higher during other times.

WiFi:
* They have WiFi available only in their reception area. Nowhere else.

STAFF:
* Attentive, English-speaking, Friendly, and Welcoming
* My 5/5 for their prompt and pleasant services

FOOD:
* They have a variety of Breakfast options, and they are suitable for Vegetarians like me as well.
* My package had only Breakfast included.
* More expensive than outside
* My 4/5 for Food taste, quality, and hygiene.
* Dhanish was pleasant.

LEARNING:
* I learned that it's better to pre-book and secure all your Meals at the hotel itself, even if it costs a bit higher. As far as Soma Palmshore is concerned, the quality of their food is pretty good, so it's better than moving around tasting and experimenting with food.

POOL:
* I did not use it, but it looked very clean and well-maintained.

COMPLAINTS:
* None!

SUGGESTIONS:
* Have Tea / Coffee makers complimentary in rooms (esp. the cottage)
* Have WiFi in the cottage.

RETURN:
After staying in the cottage, I don't think I'd like to stay in any of their rooms. I've already informed them that the next time I come, I'd only like to stay in the same cottage.

PLACES AROUND:
* Lighthouse Beach - 500 meters
* Hawa Beach - 900 meters
* Vizhinjam Beach - 600 meters
* Vizhinjam Lighthouse - 500 meters
* Vizhinjam Harbour - 2 kms
* Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium and Research Center - 600 meters
* Poovar Backwaters - 15-17 kms (reviewed separately)

POOVAR BACKWATERS:
* Poovar is the name of the town / city, which has backwater rides for you.
* It was 15-17 kms from my Resort. I took a 2 hours ride, and it was worth it.
* They took me to and through the Golden Sands beach, Floating restaurant (too expensive), Mangrove Forest, Forest Island. It was fun.
* This is reviewed separately on TripAdvisor, and a video is embedded above as well.




TripAdvisor Query / Message

Hi Sagar, I found you review very helpful. My husband and I have booked 4 nights in September. Since we are planning the Kerala trip on our own, I wondered if you know if Ola or Uber is available in Kovalam. I was thinking to book them for our airport drop to Trivandrum. The hotel is asking for INR 1100! What transport options are available in Kovalam for local sight seeing? I hear that they do have autos/tuk-tuk but tourists have had harrowing experience. Will appreciate your guidance. Thanks. Lipika.

Hi Lipika,

Glad to know that you found my review helpful.

Ola cabs are available more in Trivandrum than in Kovalam. Kovalam is a little town, and as far as I checked, cabs were not available around on a day. Yes, the hotel charges nearly twice the amount, but if you simply step out of your resort / hotel, you will find cabs standing there, and the drivers asking you for sightseeing / drops / backwaters, etc. What I did was - took the mobile phone numbers (business cards) of two drivers, and informed one of them to pick me up from Soma Palmshore at 6:30 am on (the) Sunday, and I called him at 6 am, and he was all set. He dropped me at TRV Airport at Rs. 500/- (and he asked me for a hundred more, but I gave him 50, which is okay). I do not think there's any other (more economical) option from Kovalam to TRV. Didn't use the local bus, as I had a lot of luggage et. al.

Due to the off-season (and I'm sure in general as well), they're in need of customers. One very important tip is to fix / decide / bargain the total price BEFORE you sit in the cab / whenever you discuss with the driver / auto rickshaw. As I wrote in my review, I gave a 100 rupees note to an auto-driver, and just for 2 kms, he charged me Rs. 70/- (because I'm a tourist - despite being an Indian myself) + he said he had that much change only. It's not about 20-30 rupees, but why waste money unnecessarily.

Additionally - You can find Ola Cabs more easily from TRV to Kovalam, and one way it goes to around Rs. 170/- or so (is what I heard from someone), which is one-third of Kovalam to TRV.

Kovalam Local Sightseeing - There are auto-rickshaws available, but like I said, fix / bargain the prices BEFORE you sit. They ask for anything that comes to their mouth, but if you can politely and in a friendly, funny, sweet tone bring them down, they do agree. The nearby Kovalam attractions / beaches are at a walkable distance. Not too many things to do. To go to the Poovar / Puvar backwaters, I hired the same cab driver at Rs. 600/- (to and fro). It is Rs. 500/-, but he was my dad's age, so I agreed to pay a 100 more.

Most Important Tip: Carry Change without fail. Avoid using 500 rupees notes for small transactions. They have no change. Some get offended :P (but understandable, isn't it? They have no customers) Carry 100 rupees and 10 rupees changes. The best way is to go into a good shop / mall in TRV and purchase something, and they'll give you change. Or ForEx is always there in your home place / country.

I understand the apprehensions that we sometimes have before going somewhere, but just don't worry at all. Bad experiences happen with you only if you lose your calm. People are the same everywhere

If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Regards.
Sagar Sonker






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