Before the year 2014 ended, I had the chance to visit Kerala State in India together with 8 other #CometoKerala Participants from 5 other countries hosted by Kerala Tourism Department. After a few months of holding the online contest, a total of 200 participants from 12 countries and 3 continents joined the #CometoKerala Visa on Arrival promotional contest. The online promotional contest, #CometoKerala Visa On Arrival, which lasted for a few months, gave 200 participants from 12 different countries and 3 continents the opportunity to come and see Kerala State.
Last October 21, 2014, I finally got an email confirming my Free Kerala Trip Slot. I was also chosen last year as one of the winners in the Season 1 of Kerala Blog Express, but I was not able to go due to personal reasons. Unlike the Kerala Blog Express with 25 participants, this year’s #CometoKerala is not just exclusive to travel bloggers.
Come to Kerala Participants
This contest is open to citizens of various countries where Visa on Arrival to Trivandrum and Kochi International Airport are available. The Nine #CometoKerala Participants are composed of bloggers and professional photographers from Finland, Indonesia, Luxembourg, the Philippines, New Zealand and Laos.
Come to Kerala Participants with some of the Organizers
To be honest, I was not prepared to join the trip. I even hardly responded to the organizer’s email. The excitement started when I finally got the plane tickets and the complete tour itinerary from the contest organizers.
Upon arrival in Trivandum International Airport from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, we proceeded to the Visa on Arrival Desk to process our Indian tourist visa. After paying $60 and getting the much awaited passport stamp, we had a short visit at the Kerala Tourism Airport Lounge where they gave us our Kerala welcome kit with lots of helpful info about the destination.
Kerala Fish Curry
It was only when we left the airport arrival did everything finally sink in. Seeing 90% of the people wearing Sarees and Dhoti made me realize that everything was real… I’m finally in India. Yay!
From the airport, we proceeded to Turtle on the Beach Resort – our official home for two nights in Trevandum. We were welcomed by the hotel management team, and they served us a hearty breakfast upon arrival at the resort.
Traditional Kerala Lunch at Turtle on the Beach Hotel
Indian Cooking Lessons at Turtle on the Beach Hotel
While having breakfast, our room keys were distributed, and before we proceed to our respective rooms, we were instructed to gather at the restaurant after an hour for lunch. For lunch we had a huge brass plate with Kerala Rice, Avial, Bitter Gourd Pachadi, Kaya Pullisseri, Pickles, Papad, Rasam, Fish Curry, Dal Curry, and Ada Pradhaman for dessert.
Fruit Vendor in Kovalam Beach
Beach Peddler selling traditional drums
After having lunch, we gathered again at around 3 PM for a short briefing. After that, Mary, Kaori, Kim, Luke, David and I had a short walk to Kovalam Beach, which is just almost a kilometer away from the resort. Since it was a weekend, the beach was crowded and full of local tourists enjoying the huge splashing waves.
Souvenir Shop near Kovalam Beach
The beach area was awesome, and just like most of the tropical beaches in Asia, the beach shore is full of palm trees. The word kovalam means “a grove of coconut trees”, and Kovalam beach surely lives up to its name with its endless sight of coconut trees.
Souvenir Shops near the fishing village in Kovalam Beach
The surrounding area was dotted with restaurants, fruit vendors and souvenir shops. There were also some beach peddlers selling traditional drums and other musical instruments. There were no beach huts nor beach beds, and surprisingly, no one wore proper swimsuits since most of them were locals.
Kaori taking sunset photos
Sunset in Kovalam Beach
We stayed at the beach till sundown and before it got too dark, we headed back to the resort for our first night socials hosted by the Hotel GM. After the socials, We ate a late dinner before we called it a night.
Weekend Musical Performers at Turtle on the Beach Hotel
I can’t believe I was able to visit four countries in just two days: from Manila, Philippines to Singapore, to a quick stay in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and finally to Trevandum in Kerala India. The huge, comfortable and luxurious bed, courtesy of Turtle on the Beach Resort (Hotel Info) was probably the best thing I had that day but in Overall, our first day in Kerala was truly an awesome one!
Next : Trivandrum Sightseeing Tour