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5 Feb 2012

Kerala Trail – AMK - Deliberation

Decision on timing and places:

We decided that we need to go for a short trip. Where to go was matter of discussion and availability. We had around six days on hand. Being in Chennai, South India, we were deliberating on following options:

1.  Kerala > Kochi – Munnar* – Thekkady* – Peermedu – Kumarakom* – Kochi*

2. South India > Yercaud*, Ooty*, Mudumalai, Mysore*, Medikari*, Thala kaveri, Bangalore*, Vellore Sripuram Golden Temple.

3. Tamilnadu > Pondicherry, Pitchavaram, Chidambaram, Vaitheswaran Koil*, Nagore, Velankanni, Thanjavur* Rameswaram*. Suchindram, Kanniyakumari*, Madurai*, Kodaikanal*, Trichy*.

4. Coorg > Coorg & Mysore

5. East – West Coast > Thiruvannamalai, Yercaud*, Mudumalai, Coimbatire*, Guruvayur, Kaladi, Cochin*, Alleppey, Thiruvananthapuram*, Kumarakam, Kottayan*, Munnar*, Palani, Tiruchi*

6. Others > Other options were to go to only one place like Kodaikanal or Vythiri or Ooty etc.

We originally had plans to do this in Christmas vacation but it was too late and most of things were booked as also everything was at premium so we planned for Pongal holidays but that too was more or less booked. Finally we said forget about vacation let us go ahead whenever we get. So that was on timing.

On places, we thought Tamilnadu we can do in our own car covering 1-2 at a time on weekends so why to spend one week time on this trip. So finally we started zeroing down on Kerala.

Decision on mode and places:

One option was to take conducted tour – Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) or Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) or IRCTC or private tour operators.

Other option was that one of our friend from Kerala was going to his native place in his car. He offered ride to us till Kochi and said we can join him in return journey.

Third option was to go by train.

Considering two kids – 7 years and 1.5 years, we were apprehensive about conducted tours that were all in the bus as that could be taxing. As also the accommodation provided may not be very clean.

Finally we decided to go ahead with the train till Kochi and hire cab from there.

We decided to start on 20th Jan Friday and return on 27th Jan morning to take advantage of Saturday, Sunday and Republic Day (26th Jan) holidays.This was 04 Jan night. We checked the tickets and the tickets to Ernakulam (railway station for Kochi) in the convenient train – Alleppey Express (starting from Chennai at 09:15 PM) was in waiting for all classes. So checked other trains and luckily there were some seats available in Kollam Express in sleeper class so went ahead booked those as safety net. On return side there were few seats available in Chennai Mail for 26 Jan evening in AC 3T, we quickly booked the same. So we had reservation on both side now. In order to keep choice open, we tried booking in Alleppey Express in AC 3T in waiting list. It went through but after paying, the ticket did not get booked, reason – it crossed night 12:30 time – which is the time when reservations system closes for 1 hour. So of all odd 1 hour in 24 hour materlised for us. Any way waited for 1:30 AM and booked again and go waiting list of 23/24/25 in AC 3T. At the time of booking these tickets we did not even know what we are going to do for these 6 days and 5 nights.

Then started to put pieces together. Our initial plan was to get a cab from Kochi and cover Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarkom, Kochi with 2 nights in Munnar and 1 at all other places.

As we started to check more closely, we felt that this can again be too taxing for kids so we planned to drop Thekkady as that can be covered some other time even from Tamilnadu. Hence it became Munnar, Kumarkom and Kochi. This was making trip too complicated because from Munnar going down and then coming back so we will be using cab for two days just to go up and down. Little rethinking and we planned to replace Kumarkom with Alleppey as both can give same experience. The benefit was that we can go directly to Alleppey and finish that and come back to Kochi next day and go to Munnar from there. So we went ahead and booked tickets from Ernakulam to Alleppey in Alleppey express (since we would be going either by Kollam express which will reach there earlier then Alleppey express and we can change to that or if our ticket get confirmed in Alleppey then we can take same train further though the reservation till Ernakulam was in AC 3T whereas from there it was in Sleeper). Also booked Shatabdi Express from Alleppey to Ernakulam for 22 Jan morning.

Attractions and Finer details:

Having set with places next was to book hotels and car. Here is where we took help of tripadvisor. With frantic search of accommodation and their ratings – we have to take an important decision on whether hotel or homestay (which looks a popular option). The benefit of homestay was that the kids will not feel difference as also it will be cleaner then hotels. In last we planned to mix the things – we zeroed down on Hotel for Munnar and Homestays for Alleppey and Kochi.

More on hotel decision, booking and experience as well car booking experience in next post.

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