Very laid back in Varkala

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Monday, November 16, 2009

Varkala is one of the small costal resorts in Kerala and some 10 years ago it consisted of a few shacks and small cheap hotels. Today it has grown with a fair number of small resorts and guest houses, restaurants and souvenir shops. It is still small compared to Goa but will clearly continue to grow in line with the rest of the boom that that is India today. It retains a small local feel with a beach at the foot of a 100 foot high cliff where all of the main commercial activity is.

Liz and Issy did another great piece of negotiation to get a thumping deal at Preeth Resort where we had two en-suite rooms for 6 each per night. The hotel has a lovely swimming pool and covered restaurant which has also served as a schoolroom and shelter from the rain.

This year the second monsoon has been late in coming, possibly due to the El Nino effect, and we have had the full impact here with torrential rain coming down like stair rods for a few hours at a time. This has turned roads and paths into flowing rivers and meant that the rickshaws become little boats! It's funny but not being on a normal week or two’s holiday, there has not been any problem for us with the changeable climate; in fact it has been quite enjoyable to experience the mighty weather up close, unlike those who are desperate to soak up the sun’s rays. A cyclone passed further north into Mumbai and caused some serious flooding up there so we are lucky in comparison. All this made for some great waves which literally knocked you over and filled your trunks with sand as you were dragged down the beach in a drowned mess!

We have spent the time in Varkala relaxing as it is our first long break from travelling. It is only when you stop moving around that you realise how much effort you need to put in to being continually on the move, visiting temples and forts, arriving in new towns and packing and unpacking, searching out rooms to stay in on a daily basis. Don’t worry I don’t expect any sympathy vote on this one either!

We have eaten stupendously well and cheaply with local fish being the speciality cooked in a tandoori oven all washed down with one or two Kingfisher beers shared with some other guys, Helen, Jo and David from the UK, that we have met whilst here. They are also responsible for introducing Issy and Ady to the Piggy dice throwing game and we have a couple of addicts on our hands. In fact along the cliff front the restaurants are not officially allowed to serve beer as there is no barrier to the 100 foot drop in places and I guess a couple of Billy Brits might have fallen in their drunken past. To get round this you drink beer from mugs and have to place the bottles on the floor hidden from prying police eyes. Actually it was all a bit daft but it amused the kids that we were drinking illegally!

Issy and Ady have enjoyed the freedom to wander around, go for a swim in the pool and at times have even accepted to do some school work! They have twice been to a local coffee shop, run by Les from London, to make cakes for him to sell. They were up at 7.20 to get down there before the customers start arriving and made a coconut cake which is sort of baked in an old saucepan in an old sort of oven. Unfortunately this means that the bottom of the cake burns but you simply need to scrape the burnt crust off and pretend nothing happened (just like my normal cooking!). Les also serves the best cafe latte here which mum and dad are happy about.

It is a very safe place and Liz and I benefitted from this by leaving the kids to organise room service in front of a DVD whilst we managed to eat out and spend some time together. They looked like Lord and Lady Muck sitting there with their meals and drinks served in front of the latest ripped off DVD we acqiuired.

The staff at the hotel have been great and Ady got a kick around with them organised around various locations around including by the pool which resulted in a few fully clothed dunks.

Liz and I have also been going to yoga at 8am each day. The yoga is not the energetic type but Hatha, a more stretching and meditation method which has provided a wonderful start to the day. My suppleness, or rather lack of it, has been gently pushed to the limits and we have both enjoyed the clear start this provides before we tackle the rigours of deciding if it is pool or beach today.

We are due to leave India tomorrow, 17th November and it has been a tremendous start to our learning adventure. At times it has been the most frustrating and terrible place on earth, but most of the time it is simply amazing, inspiring and a true positive experience in every sense. We are pleased we started in India as there has been so much to see and for the kids the massive gulf in cultures has provided a tremendous learning platform for them.
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