Dr Kamappa and his wife took a flight from Dubai to Copenhagen. Copenhagen airport is the stopover for those flights heading towards Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Since Copenhagen is popular among tourists, the airport was a beehive of activity. But when they waited to get their luggage from the conveyor belt, they realised that their bags were still stuck at the Dubai airport. After shooting off a request to deliver the luggage to Helsinki they boarded the next plane. But even after landing there, the luggage still hadn’t reached there. They informed the airport authorities that they were travelling from Helsinki to Stockholm by ship.
When they reached Stockholm they got a call from the airlines- the luggage had finally reached the destination. Elated, the couple went to a restaurant for lunch. On her way back from the washroom, Kamappa’s wife discovered that her handbag was missing. Two mobiles and 50k were also stolen. When they complained to the restaurant manager, he said this was a regular occurrence. “Imagine a city like Stockholm which is known for its technology has no CCTV cameras in their four-star hotels?” laughs Dr Kammappa as he opens about his most unforgettable travel experience.
Those who venture into the world to travel are the ones who have come out richer from such experiences. They are well-equipped to deal with any adverse situations. In the last 44 years, he has travelled every year. The trip usually extends to a week.
This Gynaecologist holds the record for delivering over a lakh babies. “I am busy at the hospital throughout the year. Travel is my interval. We have travelled to over 30 countries. Next is New Zealand,” says Dr Kammappa sitting in front of the verandah of his home at Kundhipuzha.
He passed out MBBS from Kozhikode Medical College in 1975. During his student days, he had truly little time to think of travelling. When he got a government job, he was too held up in hospital work to pursue his passion. It’s after he built his own hospital that Dr Kammappa started seriously thinking of pursuing his travel dreams. His first trip was to Kodaikanal in 1995. Sterling hotel started its ‘time sharing’ project that year. If you deposit 30,000, you get 95 years free stay. He took a share project under installment. That time sterling had cottages only in Kodaikanal and Ootty.
They would travel with family in their Maruti 800, considered a luxury car at that time. They sang all the way to Kodaikanal. Cooked at the cottage. At that time Pillar rock and cocker rock hadn’t yet become popular tourist spots. They explored the Guna caves. Their second destination was Ootty which was near Palakkad.
Their first North Indian trip was to Manali. A trip that prompted them to visit Kashmir. Rohtang Pass highway was the highlight of Manali trip. They also loved the road leading to Leh, Ladakh trip called the Sojila pass. The National pass construction is headed by the Border Road organization. And the Engineers have done a brilliant job. Manali isn’t just about Hidimba temple, Hot water spring, and Paragliding. If you travel 30 kilometers towards the forest region you will reach a place called Jana. The tourists shouldn’t miss that splendid palace done in wood there.
The next trip was to the place where Britishers who worked in India used to spend their holidays-Mussorie at Uttarakhand. From Delhi, they took a flight to Dehradun. Places like Rishikesh and Haridwar are only 30 km away from Dehradun. In the same route, Badrinath lies on the top of the mountain. Mussoorie is famous not only for its scenic beauty, but it has also developed into an important centre of education and business. It is also famous for the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration where officers are trained for the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
He first came to Assam to attend the All-India Gynaecologist conference. Then Guwahati was a town with bare minimum facilities. Those who live on the banks of the river Brahmaputra are weavers. Muga is a variety of wild silk manufactured there. In the Brahmaputra Valley, the larvae of the Assam silk moth feed on aromatic leaves. Muga silk can be dyed after bleaching and can be hand-washed with its luster increasing after every wash. Muga silk, like other Assam silks, is used in products like saris, mekhalas and chadors.
Chirapunji, located in the East-Khasi hills in Meghalaya is the other attraction and is also known as the wettest place on earth. You can see Bangladesh from Chirapunji. Chirapunji is also famous for its living root bridges, a result of bioengineering practiced by the locals. The bridges can bear 50 people at a time and are spectacular to watch.
He was surprised to see the doctor name board being wrongly spelled at Assam. Even the word surgeon is wrongly spelled there. Just the thought of the patients in that land filled him with fear considering the doctors can’t even write basic English.
Sikkim is easily the cleanest state in India. Sikkim’s Gang Tok is reminiscent of Europe’s small towns. Their personal cleanliness as well as their stress to keep the streets clean are worthy of emulation. There are no plastics lying around and there are no shops selling pesticides. They only use organic manure for farming. Agra, which houses Taj Mahal is the exact opposite of Sikkim. Patna, Lucknow, Varanasi are all garbage dumps. Interestingly the Taj Mahal and the surrounding places have been kept neat and clean. They even use fuel-free electric vehicles to ferry the tourist to see the Taj Mahal. But when they visited the lanes behind, they realised it was all a sham to shield the garbage-laden roads. Not to mention the fuel emitting lineup of vehicles passing around.
Why Canada was the most beautiful
Once his Kozhikode Medical college batchmates organised a trip to Bali. But since his mother was admitted to the hospital, he had to skip the trip. Later he took a trip to Bali with his wife and children. That was also his first foreign trip.
His second foreign trip was to Europe. From London via Netherlands he visited Amsterdam. The return journey covered Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and France. He felt Australians and Germans weren’t the friendliest of people. They kept a distance from people who aren’t from their race. But Swiss folks were a friendly lot. While Americans interacted with all irrespective of their socio-economic status. He is still in touch with the Microsoft employee they met during the Las Vegas to Orlando flight.
When they visited a restaurant in Miami, its owner turned to be a native of Pathanamthitta. After Ammini's husband’s death she migrated to US and found success in her restaurant business. Every American city had an Indian restaurant.
At Beverly Hills in Hollywood there is a fashion studio called Dijam. A suit will cost you 15 lakhs. In the customers book along with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan he also spotted the name of Krishnan Nair. Malayalis are everywhere as they say.
At Europe, Eiffel Tower remains the most fascinating sight. Hats off to the engineers for their brilliance. The Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel in French, was the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition - or World's Fair - of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France's industrial prowess to the world. Another fascinating sight was the tunnel binding five islands including New York. They built that tunnel under the sea 120 years ago. Ships are passing over it.
New York’s Grand Central Terminal is the other marvel. It is a commuter rail terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Grand Central covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world. Its platforms, all below ground, serve 30 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower. In total, there are 67 tracks, including a rail yard and sidings; of these, 43 tracks are in use for passenger service, while the remaining two dozen are used to store trains. Another eight tracks and four platforms are being built on two new levels deep underneath the existing station as part of East Side Access. Grand Central Terminal was named by and for the New York Central Railroad, which built the station and its two predecessors on the site.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami is beautiful. They also visited the Niagara Falls in America. And saw the Niagara at Canada. The visuals of Niagara in both countries are entirely different. Collectively the waterfalls are named Niagara Falls. They consist of three different waterfalls. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls in the USA and the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls in Canada. The Niagara River serves as an international border between the USA & Canada. It’s difficult to think of a more beautiful country than the snow-capped Canada. It’s thrice India’s size but the population is less than Kerala. Banff, a resort town with its surreally coloured lakes, majestic mountains and forests is the province of Alberta is another special place in Canada. It’s also the country's first national park and the world's third, it has a rich heritage as one of the world's most awe-inspiring mountain destinations. The lakes are mostly turquoise blue or green. As the meltwater from a glacier starts to flow in the springtime it carries with it glacier silt or rock flour. The rock flour is exceptionally light and stays suspended in the lake water for a long time. The sunlight that reflects off these particles is what gives the lakes their spectacular colours.
When they stood in front of the Parliament house, a man dressed in suit cycled towards them. After exchanging pleasantries he disappeared into the office. They were stunned to discover that the man was their Prime Minister Justin Rudo.
Brazil, China and Iguazu
They visited the Scandinavian countries in a twenty-day tour package. They got down at Brazil’s Rio Janeiro airport. Christ the Redeemer statue is a famous landmark in Rio, which is a cultural icon of both Rio and Brazil. The statue was placed on the summit of Mount Corcovado on request as it would be visible from anywhere and everywhere in Rio, and thus represent a way of “reclaiming Rio” (which was Brazil's capital city at that time) to Christianity. Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida fashioned the face. Constructed between 1922 and 1931, the statue is 30 metres (98 ft) high, excluding its 8-metre (26 ft) pedestal. The statue was finished in 1931. It was built to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Brazil's independence from Portugal. The statue of Christ the Redeemer has become a symbolic protector of people. Like Jesus Christ, the statue protects the urban environment, like a roof over your head.
From Brazil, it’s a two-hour flight journey to reach Iguazu. The Iguazu (also called Iguassu) Falls are composed of 275 separate cascades, which make it the largest broken waterfall in the world. Made up of a chain of waterfalls that are fed by the Iguazu River, this powerful phenomenon sits on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Fr0m Buenos Aires they are ferrying on the Celebrity Infinity ship. The cruise ship was s as large as a city with over 3500 passengers and 1500 workers. The ship is passing through Argentina, Fox land Island, Antarctica, and Uruguay. They also saw Ushuaia, a resort town in Argentina located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost tip of South America, nicknamed the “End of the World. This beautiful city, perched dramatically between the Martial mountains, the bay, and the Beagle Channel, is popular for its sheer beauty, spectacular marine wildlife, and for its acclaim as the city at the End of the World. Also spotted blue whales and penguins on the way.
The China visit happened only last year. They visited Zhangjiajie, a city in the northwest of China's Hunan province, and is home to the famed Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China's Hunan Province has become internationally renowned since the release of the 2009 movie Avatar. Towering sandstone mesas, dense forests, and deep ravines are the gorgeous natural landscape of the scenic area.
Equally formidable is the escalator which is located in Enshi Grand Canyon just outside of Enshi city. It cost some 36 million to build (£4.3 million) and takes 18 minutes to travel from start to finish. Around 7,300 people can be transported every hour from the top of the site right down to the canyon. They have built the escalator in the middle of the mountain. The Escalator which is as tall as a skyscraper has been made by drilling the mountains. It’s also the world’s longest escalator. Climbing plants have been added in the hope that the escalators will blend into the environment in the future. They were also the first Malayalis to visit there. And that was an exciting moment.