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Hi, it’s Henry here making my debut blog post. I have been unsure whether it would be a good idea to contribute to this blog or for MiniSuitcase to remain Jen’s project. However, in the end, I felt Jen has been a bit slack in posting updates so I’ve decided to hijack this blog and post some stuff about what’s being happening recently. It’s been nearly 1 week since we departed on this amazing adventure, and many things have happened that I thought it would be great to document while the memory was still relatively fresh in my head. And since two heads are most definitely better than one, here goes…

We are currently staying in a coastal town called Varkala, Kerala, and I am typing on my laptop whilst sitting in my underpants on a hotel balcony. Even though it’s 1am, it’s extremely warm and I found myself unable to sleep due to the humidity of the place. The hotel we are staying in isn’t actually a proper hotel as such, in that we are the only people staying in the building as it’s main purpose is actually a restaurant which we have been eating delicious meals in the last couple of nights. The room doesn’t have any air conditioning, has no hot water, no toilet paper and a deadly ceiling fan above our heads, which I swear will soon drop off from it’s precarious pole, falling and slicing us open when we are sleeping. For this privilege, we are paying a princely sum of 500 Rupees which works out to be roughly £6 for the night. We have become friendly with the owner Sureesh who has been (one of a number of people) kind and generous in helping us today with:

1) Sending a parcel to Jen’s mum – Even though we are traveling with hand luggage only, we decided that we were carrying too much ‘stuff’ and thought it would be a good idea to send some items back to the UK to reduce the weight and size of our bags. In hindsight, I would have probably not taken some the items I am now returning as they are unsuitable and too bulky for the current leg of the journey. Space is a premium, so I am getting rid of my jeans, hoodie, trainers and hat which will significantly reduce the bulk and weight of my bag, with Jen also returning her fleece, trainers and trousers. Other travellers we have met have been shocked by the amount (or lack) of luggage we are carrying for this 1 year trip, but we are getting quite used to travelling in this minimalistic fashion.

Sending a parcel from India is a rather unusual process as it involves wrapping the package in this canvas like cloth which is stitched together by a local tailor and sealed with those candle wax stamps that you used to see on the back of important letters which helped identify whether the item had been opened. The process took several hours and tomorrow Sureesh is taking me on his motorbike to help with sending the parcel at the local Post Office. No one seems to bother wearing a helmet in India on roads where people drive like maniacs, so that should be rather interesting. I hope Jen informs her mum that we are sending this parcel, as she may be mistaken in thinking this interesting looking parcel that lands on her doorstep is her Christmas present, rather than a box of old clothes we want her to look after… 

 2) Getting a local pay as you go SIM card Everything is rather cheap over here compared to the UK and mobile phones are no exception. With a 1 minute international call to a mobile phone costing only R20 per minute we thought it would be a good idea to get connected. Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into a shop and buy one of these SIM cards as a photo proof of identity and address is required. Sureesh happily went out of his way to help us by going into town by himself with our passports(!), photocopying the documents, using his personal address as our reference, forging our signatures, topping up both SIM cards with credit and returning it all to us later, along with the parcel he picked up from the tailors on his way back. He is a good man and we felt obliged to return his favours by eating another meal from his restarunt. This wasn’t a hard decision as the food is fantastic having been served with the biggest prawns and chicken breast meat I have ever seen in my life. 

We were perhaps spoiled at our first stay in Puthenthorpe where we were one of a few foreigners on a virtually isolated beach apart from the local fisherman who we used to watch fishing in the morning. Varkala beach on the other hand is quite a busy and touristy place with many Brits, Germans, Australians, Russians and Indians visiting the area. It’s not really our scene, and we planning to move further north tomorrow to a town called Edava to avoid the inflated tourist prices and over enthusiastic sellers trying to flog us their goods (“For you my special UK friends, I give amazing 50% discount!”).

OK that’s enough for now. This post has taken me a lot longer than I expected. I don’t particularly enjoy writing so please don’t expect any Pulitzer prize winning material from any of my future updates.

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