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Last year I welcomed in 2019 in Kerala. The Indian state that is known as ‘Gods Own Country’.
India itself is an incredibly diverse country but Kerala as a state is as diverse as it gets. From the famous backwaters of Kerala to the tea plantations of Munnar, the beaches of Varkala and trekking to find wild Elephants in Thekkady National Park, in my few weeks in Kerala I felt like I had done it all!
It wasn’t just the sights and scenery in Kerala that surprised me though, the people were a huge highlight during my time travelling through Kerala.
Travelling by public bus is the best way to get around Kerala because once you are inland and off the coast, trains no longer serve the state.
I love train travel in India however in Kerala, by using the public buses, which can be tricky to navigate, I really realised just how helpful and friendly locals were.
From my rickshaw driver who came into the bus station with me in Kochi to help me get the right bus, to the many people who helped me find my connecting bus in the bus stations, the ticket officer who made sure I had a seat, and of course the many children I made faces at whilst on the bus. This all added up and helped make the long travel days around Kerala worth it and made me feel safe and happy travelling around this beautiful lush, green state.
Human by Nature is a campaign by Kerala Tourism to show the way of life in Kerala and how the people here connect with the land and nature. They have created this beautiful video to show exactly what they mean and you cand find out more by searching #humanbynature on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Upon hearing about the Human by Nature campaign, one highlight of my time in Kerala came to mind – The day I spent hiking in Munnar with an incredibly lovely man called Sanil who was born and bred in Kerala and the 2 nights I spent at his cottage guesthouse.
Sanil’s friendliness showed first when told me he would pick me up from the bus stop which was something he didn’t have to do and we headed to his home and business – The Wayside Cottages. I was shown to my treehouse room which had a view overlooking a valley full of coconut trees, banana trees and tea plantations in the distance. It was then that I realised why Kerala is known as ‘Gods Own Country’.
His 2 daughters came to welcome me too and I ended up spending the next hour with them. They took me down to the river at the bottom of the hill and as we walked through what to me was pure jungle, but to them, was their wild backyard, I wondered if they knew that having a garden like this was not normal to most people?
Their English was perfect and despite me being 3 times their age, they showed me around their home like they were the adults and with a lot of pride with how much they knew about the plants and trees we were passing.
The following day, myself and 5 other foreigners who were staying at the guesthouse headed out for a day of hiking in Munnar. We started off seeing coffee beans drying in the sun, and before we knew it we were walking amongst cardamom tree’s and it was only then that I realised I had no idea what cardamom looked like in its natural growing form.
Whilst we were walking Sanil kept pointing out animals and insects that we wouldn’t have noticed with our own eyes and he kept getting us to smell leaves and telling us just how important they are, showing just how much he knew about the nature in this section of Kerala where he has spent all of his life, and knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation.
After a steep and sweaty hike uphill we finally reached a viewpoint which showed off a sea of tea plantations, which was pretty much what I came to Munnar for and why I wanted to do this hike so it was very rewarding!
We walked down into the plantations seeing people work in the fields and meeting other locals along our way.
The final surprise of genuine human kindness came when we were nearing the end of our hike and I really needed the bathroom. We saw a house, Sanil greeted a man sitting outside on his porch and I jumped at the chance of asking whether we could ask him if I could pop into their house and use the bathroom. This wasn’t normal but they welcomed me in and showed me their bathroom. I came out expecting to leave straight away however I saw the rest of the group all sitting in the porch waiting to be served tea by the lady of the house. She wouldn’t let us leave without some tea and biscuits which was a totally unexpected highlight of the hospitality from the people of Kerala!
In addition to this, something that really struck me during my time in Kerala is just how proud Indian people are to have been born in Kerala and be from this lush-green state. I post about my travels here on my blog but also on my YouTube channel. The people of India are patriotic to say the least but I felt this most from my readers and viewers in Kerala.
They are incredibly proud of their home and what it offers. Based on my experience travelling around a lot of India including Kerala, I can really see that Kerela does offer something different in India.
Life is a lot slower here. It’s cleaner here. It’s more welcoming here, it’s a wild adventure and a relaxing getaway.
So, if you’re looking for a trip to India where you can change your landscape dramatically every few days and see a side of India you may not expect but will keep you coming back for me. I urge you to visit Kerala and witness Human by Nature in action.
This post is sponsored by Kerala Tourism. All opinions, thoughts and experiences are my own.