My flight left Sri Lanka at 8.15am and I arrived in Trivandrum (or Thiruvananthapuram if you like a tongue twister) at 8.45am… I love a 30 minute flight! Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala, South India, where I would be beginning a 1 month Sivananda yoga teacher training course a few days later.
I was relieved to meet an Israeli girl while cashing Traveler Cheques at the Trivandrum airport. We left the airport together and I watched in awe as she bartered our rickshaw driver down to practically nothing. She was hardcore in her negotiating tactics and I honestly thought a fight might break out. I figured either she’s even more broke than me (highly unlikely) or this is just how it’s done. I also cringed when I remembered what I’d been paying for rickshaws in Sri Lanka. You live and learn.
We spent what seemed like forever finding a hotel (nothing was cheap enough) and just as my back was at breaking point (so not used to the weight of a backpack at this point) we found rooms at Sukhavas for 115 rupees (less than $2, $1.77 to be exact). The Israeli girl took a room opposite me and I thought I had company for the day but she vanished… oh well.
What To Do In Trivandrum
So what did I get up to in Trivandrum on my first day in India? Well I used my new found badass backpacker bargaining skills to get a rickshaw to Trivandrum Zoo. Saw some giraffes, zebra, hippos and monkeys but then felt guilty looking at caged animals and left.
Next up I popped into the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, the History Museum and then I went to Kovalam beach which was fabulous! Hundreds of cute shops lined the beach front and all along the windy little roads that lead to the beach. Here you can find jewelry (so much jewelry), intricate wood carvings, sarongs… all sorts!
I found a beach cafe and had a banana pancake and a cold coffee then made my way back to Trivandrum. It was almost dark by the time I got back to the hotel. The streets had a warm red glow, people were selling fish, fires were burning and I felt really happy and excited to be here.
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The next morning I woke up at 6am, I was too excited to sleep in (I was thinking about all that silver jewelry) and went straight back to Kovalam beach for breakfast. I hadn’t bought anything the day before and I wanted to shop shop shop! I bought a turquoise and silver necklace, two hippie bags, two silver ankle bracelets, a sarong and had two pairs of trousers made for me while I was in an internet cafe.
After lunch it was time to leave Trivandrum and head to my yoga TTC course. I got a rickshaw for 400 rupees (about $6) for a 1 to 2 hour ride to the Sivananda Yoga Vedenta Dhanwantari Ashram in Neyar Dam. As we went higher and higher up into the mountain the air got noticeably fresher and cooler. We stopped at a street cart for a super sweet chai along the way. I enjoyed the ride despite it being bumpy as hell and I was really looking forward to having some structure to my days and meeting some fellow yogis.
Read more: Reflections On My First Day In India
Read about my one month stay at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Kerala where I did some rather severe detoxing, attempted to meditate (sometimes while walking at the same time), did a lot of clapping, chanted in Sanskrit, found my mantra, learnt new breathing techniques and perfected my headstand.
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