Trip Start Oct 31, 2006
Trip End May 2007

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Friday, December 29, 2006

We bid adieu to 2006 in Kerala, Southern India, at a place called Philipkutty's Farm. [It was featured just recently in December's Food and Wine and National Geographic Traveler magazines.] A small villa on Vembanad Lake, Kottayam, on India's famed backwaters. It was the perfect way to end our India trip-quiet and relaxing. The food and place were amazing...Christina took a cooking class with "Mummy," (the grandmother and part owner) we cruised along the backwaters and we got our first ayurvedic massages at the local ayurvedic "hospital." The massage was quite the experience. A sari-wearing woman with extremely hairy arms welcomed us into the non-airconditioned facility. She took our blood pressure, listened to our pulse and scribbled something onto a note pad. Thereafter, we were escorted into separate rooms. When they told us the facility was basic, well, I guess a different adjective comes to mind. No burning incense and Enya in this joint. I entered what was a gloomier version of my grandfather's cellar in Croatia-minus the hanging pork. Uddy's accommodations were 5-star...his room had a window and painted green walls. We each spent one hour getting camphor smelling oil poured over us while being rubbed down on a hard wooden table [I had two tiny women massaging me; Uddy had one man]. No spot was left untouched...I suppose it's important to be thorough with your work. And try turning over onto your stomach on an oily wooden table, nothing graceful about that. After the one-hour rub down, we were taken [of course couple retreats here] into a makeshift shower room-a water spigot and drain-and rubbed again with ground chickpea flour to absorb the gallons of oil now covering our bodies. Several people had given us hints of what was to come with the massage, but they could not prepare us for this. One memory not to soon to be forgotten.
For New Year's Eve Phillipkutty's lighted candles around the entire farm. It looked so romantic. We had a delicious dinner with the other 10 guests and spent the evening drinking wine and chatting. If it weren't for the candles, it would have felt like every other night at the villa, which is a compliment to the place. Each evening we had such delicious and unique dinners and the company around the table was always fun. Usually, we would spend time talking about everyone's travel experiences. We realized that we still have so many places left to see. :D
On the 1st we spent the day in Kochin, an old Fort City settled by the Dutch. It houses the oldest synagogue in India. It is a beautiful town filled with great shops and restaurants. While driving past the center of town, we saw a hanging effigy of President Bush in the middle of the square. The day before, Saddam Hussein was hanged and the city imposed a curfew due to the anti-America protests and marches. Kerala is a predominantly Christian state and its people are opposed to the death penalty.  Before heading to the airport, we stopped for lunch at the Malabar House, a small boutique hotel and then visited an art gallery. Later that evening we were off to Chennai with a brief layover before flying to Thailand.
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