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Our First Time in an Indian City

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple – one of our stops

So, yesterday we ventured into Trivandrum to buy a few essentials and experienced several firsts.

  • Our first crossing the road challenge (only 2 lanes but still quite hairy)
  • Our first wandering cow, and,
  • Our first experience of having a driver

The road and the cow were to be expected but we did not expect to be engaging the services of our own personal driver! However, we are now converted and will certainly do it again. He asked for our list and dropped us at different places to buy each item, recommended several tourist type places to go and met us outside each place again to go back to where the car was parked. Some may think it is cheating but to us it turned out to be an excellent way to see the city without getting lost and with the benefit of air conditioning. In 33 degree heat this was a blessing. We went to lunch at what turned out to be a very posh hotel indeed ( amusingly named ‘The South Park’ ) and we were successful in acquiring all our necessities apart from the rather important aspect of getting hold of some local currency. We have already tried to withdraw cash from a number of ATM machines, but each time our cards were rejected despite them carrying the ‘ globally recognised’ Visa and MasterCard symbol 🙁

The Low Cost of Shopping in India

Some of the things we bought were so different in price that I would say anyone planning to come to India should really come with a half empty bag and get what they need here. For example, I had been looking for a reasonably priced world wide adapter plug for some months in the UK but many did not cover India and those that did were very expensive. The cheapest one at the airport was £27.99. Yesterday we picked up a UK to Indian plug for just R46 (about 60p) some mossie repellant and bite treatment for less than £1.20 and 5 sachets of washing powder for 12pI also got a skirt and was able to do my first bit of proper haggling. I only saved R60 (about 74p) but it felt good to get that ball rolling (and get a lovely cool new skirt.)

Peace and Quiet in Putenthorpe

After experiencing Trivandrum on its ‘quiet’ day we are both very glad we did not start in a city, especially a massive one like Dehli. The little corner of Kerala we find ourselves in now is so quiet with some village shops, a post office and a church all 1km from our hotel. There are no other hotels nearby and the fishermen still fish the beach every morning making this a most marvellous place to relax. Dinner for Henry each night has been the catch of the day in either ‘fish fry’ or ‘fish curry’ form. They have been kind enough to make me a chicken or veggie alternative as well.

Fishing Boat on Putenthorpe Beach near Trivandrum

Fishing boat

Later in the evening Anoob, a member of staff at the hotel, set up a DVD player in our room to show us a Hindu wedding and talk is through it. It was interesting to note that in a 45 minute video there was very little smiling, considering it was a wedding day. There were 2000 guests, several meals and some amusing picture montages in the film.

Today we have been on no adventures, we are nursing our mossie bites with the new cream and our swollen ankles (the internet says drink more water) as well as doing the washing. We are also quite seriously considering sending some of our warmer items back home as they take up so much room in our mini bags. The problem will come when we get into the top third of India and the temperature drops to below freezing. As we have only just left somewhere that is about to become freezing we are thinking of concentrating just on the southern half of India and staying warm; reducing what we need to carry and seeing what we do see in more detail with less rushing from here to there.

UPDATE (January 2014):

Reviewing this post some time later I feel compelled to add a little more information:

  • We never had a driver again, in India or anywhere else
  • We did send clothes back to the UK and stick to the warmer parts of India (check out our packing list posts)
  • The pattern of things being very much more affordable continued, especially in India
  • Putenthorpe was one of the least touristy and most clean beaches we visited, have a look here for posts on other beaches we’ve been to
  • I’m now a confident and experienced haggler – I wrote about my skills in this post
  • The best BEST treatment for mosquito bites – after much experimentation – is Tiger Balm. I explain all about it in this post.

First posted 21st November 2011, updated 7th January 2014


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