A weekend in Kodaikanal

This past weekend Abhi, Jane, and I traveled with Erica, one of our friends that we met at Aravind from the University of Michigan, to Kodaikanal, a small city in the mountains. The trip was amazing and exceeded expectations by a mile. The weather, the scenery, the nature were all just breathtaking. A few things that I learned from the trip though…

1) People are friendly. I don’t know if this is an Indian thing or if I’ve just never been in these types of experiences, but it seems to me that the people I’ve met in India are generally more open and friendly to complete strangers. At Kodaikanal we stayed at this really great hostel called Greenlands Youth Hostel. It was situated on the side of a mountain, had decent accommodations but had a spectacular view. The first night we were there, we met these students from Bangalore studying a variety of subjects from business to anthropology. We ended up spending pretty much the entire night talking and hanging out with them. We ended up sleeping only a few hours, but it was completely worth it.

2) You can do things in India that you would never be allowed to do in the U.S. The second day we were at Kodaikanal we went on this hike through the forests and up the mountains. Before the hike, I’m pretty sure all of us expected a guide taking us through some nice open cleared forest paths to some neat picture-worthy landscapes. What we got instead was a trek through the middle of a dense forest – thorny plants, poison ivy, muddy ground, everything. There was a good portion of the hike where we were literally walking across the edge of a cliff. The guide kept telling us to lean to the right because to the left was a straight drop down the cliff. No protection, no safety lessons, only hand holding at one point. It was exhilarating. None of us died. I would definitely do it again.

3) Street food is actually really tasty. This weekend was actually one of the first times I’ve tried street food in India. Before coming, this idea of staying away from street food was ingrained into my mind, and probably for very good reasons, but what the heck, it’s part of the experience. We’ve all gotten sick at least once already. We’re seasoned veterans pretty much, might as well try street food instead of just complaining about how good it smells. A masala corn on the cob, fried peppers, and random fruits later, it was good, almost heavenly. And I’m not sick so yay.

Overall, great weekend. I think we’re gonna try Kerala next weekend.

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Couldn’t jump high enough because this was actually really scary.

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View from the hostel

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Monkey like “oh dayumm”

 

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About Zach Chen

I am currently a sophomore in the Vagelos LSM program at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biology, Finance, and Statistics. This summer I will be interning at Aravind Eye Care Systems in Madurai, Tamil Nadu India and can't begin to express how excited I am!