One of the things I liked most about my recent trip to Kerala, India, was the people. Aside from the world-class hospitality extended to us by our hosts in the Kerala Tourism Board, the people we interacted with in Kerala were really nice and friendly.
In my whole trip, I encountered only a handful of people who wanted to rip me off because I was a tourist. The rest were all very warm in welcoming foreigners to their communities.
From the locals in the Kumarakom backwaters to the villagers in the spice plantations, everyone made me and my co-bloggers feel welcome.
Unlike other countries I’ve visited where locals would feel snappy if you take photos of them, the people in Kerala were different. They would happily pose for a photo once you take out your camera and point it at them. They’d also happily take your photo if you ask them to.
While travelling across this southern Indian state, I compiled photos of the faces I interacted with during the trip. Showing people in their daily lives is the best way of showing the warm-hearted welcome I experienced in my trip.
I’m not a photographer. Though I’ve had training in sports photography during the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, I never really use SLR cameras to take photos when I travel. These photos were all taken using my iPhone 5 and Samsung Note 3.
“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”
– Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St Augustine
The highlands: Thekkady and Munnar
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Mary Ritter Beard
Our Kerala experience would not have been as wonderful if not for our tour guide Manoj Nair. This guy is, perhaps, one of the best tour guides in Kerala, having journeyed with journalists, bloggers and celebrities like Anthony Bourdain.
But he is not just a tour guide. Manoj is also a renowned photographer who had been published in different magazines and books. He has traveled to many countries, often on a shooting assignment for international travel books.
Manoj was very patient in entertaining all our concerns and questions. He knew all the fun facts about the places we visited and gave extra effort to make us feel safe and comfortable wherever we went. He was a very gracious host and being a photographer, he knew all the best angles of the places we visited.
What sets Manoj apart from the other tour guides I’ve had in other countries is that he is really passionate about his job. He loves Kerala and wants his guests to appreciate “God’s Own Country” in the same way.
I’ll never forget Manoj and the other people I interacted with in Kerala. I hope someday I can host them when they visit the Philippines.
This is a part of my #ComeToKerala blog series. My trip to “God’s Own Country” was sponsored by the Kerala Tourism Board. I had the time of my life in Kerala and I’m sharing my experiences here:
- To get or not to get an India tourist visa on arrival?
- #ComeToKerala: Places to visit in Trivandrum
- #ComeToKerala: Cruising in the backwaters of Alappuzha
- Traversing the breathtaking Thekkady highlands
- #ComeToKerala: Inside Fort Kochi
- 6 reasons to #ComeToKerala