Friday, 25 January 2013

Colours of Kerala

Our very own Operations Manager, Linda Kember, has recently returned from a trip to Kerala with Chloe Hall our talented Photography Tutor, and Christine Russell, one of our Senior Painting tutors. Linda accompanied them on a life changing adventure, touching down in Cochin airport in November last year, and spending two weeks with a group of gutsy and open minded travellers of all ages and differing artistic abilities. India met all of Linda's expectations, and more, and the journey proved to be eye opening and inspirational - not only a wonderful opportunity to see the country first hand, in all its raw optimism and humanity, but also to travel alongside Authentic Adventures clients - some old faithfuls, and some new.

The trip ran incredibly smoothly, mainly due to the fantastic organisation of Linda (of course) but also the charm of our local guide Jayan and driver Shobi, who met the group straight from the flight and drove them in comfort to the first stop, Cocobay Hotel, Kumarakom, in the Backwaters, known as the Venice of the East. Entry to the hotel is by boat, narrow barge-like boat, carefully rowed by a skilled Asian gondolier! Its the first taste of the kind of detail that our trips are known for - each element of the journey is considered for its               authenticity and we always try to delight our guests.

At the end of each trip, both the painting and photography tutors put together a presentation of the weeks work for the group - its a great way to view the work as a whole and round off the trip. Throughout the photography presentation there are smiling faces glowing for the camera and many, many highlights including an elephant ride in Periyar, followed by a dip in the elephant bath to clean them off (not obligatory, and in Linda's case an unknowing surprise!), driving an enormous long wheel base truck, entirely covered in beautifully hand painted flowers in glorious, vivid colours (again, Linda seems to have been volunteered for this duty), fire eating dancers at the Kalaripayattu Martial arts show in Periyar - stunning photographs to prove it, and a long, winding trip up to the tea plantations and hill station of Munnar in a covertible jeep.

There are more stories, more sights, more moments, and that's the point about India isn't it? We expect so much of it, and it always delivers, and perhaps more. The sheer scale, the dirtiness, lurid colours, overwhelming smells, and mind blowing optimism of the country. A visit to a local school in Kumarakom revealed a classroom bursting with wonderfully bright and funny children in their very best clothes keen to learn - Linda made a real connection here, and is intent on returning at some point in the near future.

We hope the images here depict some of the joy found on this trip, and entice you to join us on our next one! Travelling in India is not for the faint hearted, but we ensure that all travel is in maximum comfort; we try to balance a busy day, with a day spent relaxing on a houseboat across the lake in Kumarakom, for example. Or perhaps you'd simply prefer to stroll around the beautiful gardens that drop down to the sea in the Backwaters. We've done the leg work so that you don't have to! Jayan will drive you up to the most picturesque, breathtaking view of the tea plantations that you could ever hope to see, and if you are taking our Photography course you will be able to document that image forever. That's why we have chosen Kerala as one of our destinations because it offers so much; lazy vistas in the Backwaters, the contrasting heights of the Western Ghats, tropical sunsets, rich scents, bright colours everywhere, and a final stop in colonial Fort Cochin for some good shopping!

This year we will be discovering Rajasthan and her majestic palaces in November, so keep an eye on this blog for more details. If you are interested in travelling to India, why not call our office and have a chat to Linda! Don't forget that, aswell as photography and painting holidays, we will be offering walking holidays too.