India

In March of 2014 I went to Kerala, India as part of the inaugural Kerala Blog Express, sponsored by Kerala Tourism.  You can read about how I came across this opportunity in part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Kerala is in the Southwest of India, on the Arabian Sea.  It is known for Ayurvedic treatments, idyllic backwaters, tea plantations, socialist history, and several historic traditional forms of performance art.

I loved my experience there, seeing both India and Asia for the first time, as well as for the many amazing people I met on my trip. I hope to return to India someday soon, especially the north.

Outside Padmanabhapuram Palace

Outside Padmanabhapuram Palace

I’ll be posting about the Palace itself later, which I loved, but for now here are a few images from the surrounding streets.  O Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I am in Kerala, India on a trip sponsored by Kerala Tourism.  The views contained are completely my own.  I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to my subject matter and I experience the product, service, or location myself. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail harrington.delia@gmail.com Like this:Like...
Living it up in the Hotel Kerala

Living it up in the Hotel Kerala

For our first day of touring we were shepherded from one luxury hotel to the next in Kovalam.  Luxury is not how I roll, and I am not interested in writing about a place I didn’t actually stay.  The staff was all very nice, our lunch was delicious, and I chose to pass my time by getting to know my fellow bloggers (mostly by talking about how much the place was not our speed) and by chatting with people who worked in the various hotels.  There’s not much to say of substance since not much happened, but here are some of my best images of the day.  I didn’t notice until I went to post them how much saffron features in almost every image. Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I am in Kerala, India on a trip sponsored by Kerala Tourism.  The views contained are completely my own.  I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to my subject matter and I experience the product, service, or location myself. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail harrington.delia@gmail.com Like this:Like...
Sunrise at Uday Samudra in Kovalam

Sunrise at Uday Samudra in Kovalam

I’ve never been very good at relaxing (or at resorts), so waiting around at UDS waiting for this trip to start has me a little stir crazy.  After spending so much time yesterday reading, sleeping or in the pool, I had to do something that felt productive today.  When I realized I was definitely done sleeping at 6 am, I decided to go see what was shaking at sunrise.  Today marks the start of the official program, so I hope to have more updates coming soon.   Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I am in Kerala, India on a trip sponsored by Kerala Tourism.  The views contained are completely my own.  I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to my subject matter and I experience the product, service, or location myself. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail harrington.delia@gmail.com Like this:Like...
Kerala Blog Express, pt 3

Kerala Blog Express, pt 3

If you haven’t yet, read part 1 and part 2 of this series in order to get caught up on how my journey to Kerala, India came about.   This trip will be different for me in several ways. First and foremost, I will not know the language at all. The closest I’ve come to his was in the Gaeltacht in Ireland (where English could still be heard, and I had a guide) or in Turkey (where I couldn’t eavesdrop on local conversations, but my English, French and Arabic were more than enough to understand others and make myself understood.)  I will be accompanied by representatives of Kerala Tourism who speak English so I am sure all official events will be translated for me, but the window for spontaneous local interactions outside if the mold has gotten that much smaller. This means I will have to devote more energy than usual towards putting myself in a position to see beyond the veneer and meet regular people. Speaking of the veneer, this trip will be quite unlike what most people experience in India. For one thing, I will be in the richest state in all of India, a place where even major cities feel small and familiar. There will be less crime, fewer people, and a generally different vibe than most people associate with the subcontinent.  Beyond that, I am going to be on a government-sponsored tour with the intent of promoting tourism. Their goal is for me to have a wonderful time and tell everyone in the world about it, which means that they have a vested interest in...
Kerala Blog Express, pt 2

Kerala Blog Express, pt 2

Where we last left off, I had finished the contest in 30th place (only 25 would be selected) out of over 600 registered participants from over 80 countries. But somehow I had been selected to be a finalist, so I started lining up my logistics, like applying for an Indian visa and going to the travel clinic. I opted to apply for the 10 year, multiple-entry tourist visa. I figured even if the trip didn’t work out, I now have a good excuse to go to India for up to six months at one sometime over the next decade. There have been worse downsides. The Kerala Tourism folks were urging me to buy a plane ticket (one of the only financial commitments I had to make, for which they will reimburse me half the cost) but I wasn’t completely sold yet. For one thing, they haven’t been the most forthcoming or clear with logistical information, owing in part to English not being the first language of my liaison. Beyond that, things got a bit more complicated on the way to making the financial commitment to join the trip. I had two different job offers at different stages of the planning process. The first was during the voting. When it became clear I was going to receive an offer, I felt deceptive for continuing to solicit (or even passively receive) votes. But I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In at the time and remembered an axiom of hers: don’t leave before you leave. She was referring to ramping down work in anticipation of one day becoming pregnant, but in its...
Kerala Blog Express, pt 1

Kerala Blog Express, pt 1

If you’re reading his blog, you have probably heard of (and voted for me for) the Kerala Blog Express, a first of its kind travel blogging trip through the Indian state of Kerala, sponsored by Kerala Tourism. In case you haven’t, or if you’re curious about what’s happened since voting ended, here’s the whole story. Or at least, the whole story up until I go to India. This post got long quick, so it is part 1 of 3.  You can read part 2 and part 3 by clicking the links. On Christmas morning I woke up to an email inviting me to enter a contest for one of 25 spots on The Kerala Blog Express. I get emails about travel contests often enough, but to be honest some seem scammy and others just seem unrealistic for me to win. I’m a hobbyist travel blogger with a small (but wonderful and extremely attractive) following, as well as unorthodox content areas and article types. I rarely post listicles or reviews of hotels and attractions, instead writing longer essays (with relatively few photos) on less-fun topics like the harmful effects of travel, inequality, and political turmoil within the countries I visit. I also have one of the few blogs written by someone who is explicitly a feminist and an activist, someone who chooses to attend rallies and pretests, someone who loves to talk about the three cardinal sins of polite conversation: religion, politics and sex. But this contest would have twenty-five winners, not just one. There also were only a few people signed up already, and I thought I could keep pace...

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