Over a month ago I received an email that changed all my travel plans so far – I was selected to be one of the 30 finalists of Kerala Blog Express in March 2018. I didn’t really expect the news and I almost gave up the hope to be one of the lucky travelers to be sent on a mission to explore the Indian state of Kerala.
Being my first time outside of Europe, this trip definitely opened my eyes to many new perspectives, opportunities and considerations.
If you followed my adventure on social media, or you’re about to visit Kerala, here is the backstory of #KeralaBlogExpress and what it meant to me.
This is not a travel guide to Kerala. It is a personal story and needed explanation about the project as I received many questions about what Kerala Blog Express is and how did I get there.
What is Kerala Blog Express
Kerala Blog Express is a project of Kerala Tourism that brings together 30 travel influencers from all over the world in one place and shows them around the state of Kerala in south India.
The goal is to spread the word about a less-known travel destination that is probably unlikely to be considered by many due to lack of information.
Kerala Blog Express is done for 5th time. The huge success of the project from previous years is a proof that any place can become a desired travel destination through real stories and experiences & the power of social media.
In Season 5 that took place in March and April 2018, 30 bloggers, vloggers and photographers from 28 different countries were selected to take part. They were chosen after an application process and voting part on the official Kerala Blog Express website.
The program included 15 days of exploring different parts of Kerala through various activities, cultural events, city adventures, culinary challenges and local interactions.
What is Kerala..
Maybe I should start with the basics. I wasn’t aware of Kerala before and many people still ask me what is it exactly.
India is divided into 29 states and 7 union territories. Kerala is one of the 29 states of India, located in the south parts of the country.
The people consider themselves more Keralites (people from Kerala) than Indians. Even though the states in India are connected in everything, all of them still have their own unique characteristics.
In the case of Kerala, these can be mostly seen in the language, the way of life, the mindset of people, the food among everything else.
The local language in Kerala is Malayalam. But almost everyone can speak English, too. This means that you will not have a problem getting around! The food is spicy, with rich and intense flavours.
The people of Kerala are highly educated. The literacy rate in Kerala is the highest in India.
What I saw during my time in Kerala was people being kind, observant, conscious, helpful, hospitable among many other qualities. What I loved when talking to people was the lack of judgement towards others. My impression is that people of Kerala are quite tolerant.
The only times I saw locals frown, were when we tried to bargain a lower price in the shopping markets (because everything is extremely cheap anyway).
Another thing I never considered about India, is how green Kerala actually is. The landscapes outside of the cities were spectacular. Plus, the sunsets were one of the best I’ve seen so far. Europe, you have to catch up!
What is Kerala Blog Express to me
I was chosen as the travel blogger to represent Bulgaria in Kerala Blog Express Season 5. During the previous editions, there were two other Bulgarian bloggers who took part of the project – Adriana from Sunshine.bg and Tsvety from Betty Travels. I was following their journeys back then thinking if I’ll ever have the guts to go to India. Look at me now!
I went with the attitude, that it is going to be just another press trip to see just another destination and write few blog posts about it after that.
Actually, few people told me that this trip is going to mean a lot to me. I am usually a pragmatic person so I was very skeptical about that.
But what happened was that the trip actually did something to me. Seeing the values that were showed during this journey – both in locals and in the group of bloggers I travelled with, made me realize once again what are the things that really matters in life.
The trip didn’t change me. It confirmed my desire and strive to be surrounded by people and places that gives you the positive impact you need in your life.
To sum it all up, the trip to Kerala thought me a few important lessons:
First, it changed my view towards a country I never expected to visit so soon in my life.
Second, it brought me people who I can call friends for life.
Third, meeting a culture and a mindset so free and unburden brought me back my faith in the kindness in people.
Thank you all for being part of this experience!
Documenting the journey: follow the daily updates
For those interested to see what we did day by day, I documented my journey on Facebook. Here are the highlights:
- Day 1: The beginning of #KeralaBlogExpress
- Day 2: Houseboats cruise in Alleppey
- Day 3: Magical sunrise in Alleppey
- Day 4, 5: Kochi and Munnar
- Day 6: Tea plantations in Munnar
- Day 7, 8, 9: Thrissur and Calicut
- Day 10: Adventures in Wayanad
- Day 11, 12 13: Adventures and local experiences
Find out more…
If you are still curious about Kerala, head to Nicola’s article Kerala: A Beginner’s Guide to India about our experience during Kerala Blog Express. She wrote it way better than I ever would.