By Asha Prakash
A quick look at them and you might think they are delegates for an international conference — their hair and skin tones and features are as varied as it can get. However, they are no delegates, but young travel bloggers from 21 countries spread across the globe. The group of 30 was picked from a contest held by Kerala Tourism and reached here for their two week visit a few days back. All they need to do is wake up every day and hop on to the bus, where they will be taken to a new destination each day, without being told where. Among them are travel and adventure bloggers, food bloggers, photo bloggers and even a ‘vlogger’ (video blogger) but they couldn’t have chosen a better destination, they say, as Kerala seems to offer something for everyone. A very energetic and excited group speak about their experience in Kerala, and what they will take back home.
Kerala is India for beginners!
It’s their first visit to Kerala for almost all of them, while some have been to North India. But all agree on one thing — Kerala is different from the rest of India. “The nature and landscape here are so different from the rest of India. We can’t believe it is not an island, there is water everywhere!” says Alexandra Kovacova, a full time travel blogger from Slovak Republic, who wants to tell more people that travel blogging can be a career. Most of the participants are from Europe and America, but there are a few from other Asian countries and even one from South Africa. Micaela Rodriguez from Philippines found the landscape very similar to her own country.
All say that they had been a bit cautious on visiting India after hearing the numerous reports of the dangers involved, but they were pleasantly surprised at what they actually experienced. “I would suggest that people who wish to visit India should visit Kerala first, before exploring other cities and the madness up north,” says Arnaldo Santiago from Peurto Rico, a freelancer for a magazine who has already traveled 42 countries.
It’s safe for women
Twenty-three out of the 30 are women and though they have been travelling mostly as a group, they haven’t had any unpleasant experiences so far. “I am going back and spreading word that women can travel safely here,” says Ewa Jermakowicz from Poland. In fact, something they found amusing was that a lot of men, as well as women, wanted photos clicked with them. “People in the west are usually averse to tourists taking their pictures, but here they wanted to be in the pictures!” says Lee Blackwood from the US, who is a chef as well. Lee has been collecting recipes and even ingredients to take back home and update her food blog.
Although they didn’t expect the kind of luxury they experienced in the hotels, the infrastructure for travelling needs improvement, as they find it difficult to travel alone, they feel. “Places are close by but it takes too long to reach there. Buses are the only option but they aren’t tourist friendly,” says Arnaldo.
Dates with each other
Besides learning about Kerala, the bloggers say they are also learning a lot from each other, and have plans to visit each other’s countries later on. Says Veronika Hradilikova from Czech Republic, “You wouldn’t find a meeting like this elsewhere in life.” Many of them have made dates with each other as well and have listed each other’s countries in their travel agenda next. “We are learning about 20 different cultures and selling our countries to each other too. I already have three dates to stay at my house in Puerto Rico. When I visit their countries, I’ll stay with them as well,” says Arnaldo.
We are coming back for more
Each of them have a different interest, and thus while travelling as a group, there are limitations on pursuing their individual interests, they say. While Carla Ferraira from Brazil is coming back with her family next, Arnaldo is planning to explore the adventure possibilities more. “Two weeks is too little to explore Kerala,” they sign off.