Trip Start Jun 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Monday, August 14, 2006

Now THIS is what we were dreaming of when we though of the perfect Keralan beach... untouched by human hand.

We arrived in the small, smart city at 8pm after a 13 hour bus/train journey from Munnar. We decided that we would spend our first night in the city, and so after viewing a few grotty guesthouses, decided to check in to the local 3 star hotel, Malibar Residency. Complete with a fountain in the lobby, big, clean room (Hilton-esque), every cable channel imaginable, and Indian buffet breakfast, all for 9 pounds - a bargain at twice the price!

After eating some lovely local food and having a much needed warm shower we hit the sack, ready to go to our beach paradise the following morning.

The following morning we asked a good 6 or so tuktuk drivers to take us to the 'Costa Malibari Hotel,' where we had booked a room for 2 nights, only to be told and re-told that they hadn't heard of it. Loosing our patience (don't they have 'The Knowledge' here, I kept asking?!) we tried the train station, where just by chance, the owner of the guest house was running an errand, and he guided our tuktuk back to his residency.

On the journey to Costa Malibari we began to forgive the various taxi drivers for their cluelessness. We travelled through a couple of small suburban towns, turned off the main road and headed into a village, passed through here, past a temple, and turned off again into a labyrinth of narrow mud lanes; palm trees and greenery everywhere, with a few lovely Keralan houses dotted into the landscape. We arrived at Costa Malibari excited for the 2 days we had ahead, it was really beautiful.

The guest house is a converted hand-loom factory, and so has a very airy feel. There are 5 bedrooms, not plush, but still very comfortable, and the owner is really friendly. After a quick chai we headed out to explore. A 5 minute walk out of the front door and we were at the beautiful, totally secluded beach. We spent half an hour soaking up the sun and watching the local fisherman bring in their catch before heading back to the guest house for lunch.

The food is what this place is famous for, and it certainly did not disappoint! Delicious fresh Keralan food cooked to perfection was offered at every meal. Big fresh tuna steaks, cooked in chilli and coconut, and spicy fresh vegetables (not the oily, sickly curries of northern India). Absolutely delicious, and huge portions that even we couldn't finish!

We were joined in the hotel by a German couple and 3 young German travellers, and we all ate together, which made for a really friendly, homely atmosphere,

Before dinner on our first night (about 6.15pm) we decided to go for a gentle stroll to work up an appetite. We turned right out of the guest house, walked about 500m, had a chat with some friendly local children, turned left, turned left again, walked 500m and turned left again, expecting to be back at the guest house, 20 minutes later. However, in the labyrinth things do not work as simply as that, and we seemed to now be on a different lane entirely. Albeit it looked exactly the same as the one that our hotel was on, and indeed all the ones we had just walked on. We turned left and right a few times, not worried. After all we had only walked less than 1km so we had to be very near the hotel. We realised that we could hear the sea, so decided to head towards it... We knew our way to the beach and back from the guest house so we were sure that we could find our way back from the water. So, we headed towards the sound, starting to walk a little faster now as the sun was beginning to set, and this was definitely not a place to be lost in the pitch dark! We reached the sea but it was not the same beach that we had been to earlier. We weren't sure whether we had walked too far along the waterfront or not far enough. Should we head back or keep going forward? Just at this moment the heavens opened and a full-power monsoon rainstorm began. Straight off the sea, in sheets. Within 10 seconds we were soaked to the bone, and the ground became a swamp. Pete's flip flop broke and I accused every twig of being a snake, and every leaf a leech. Pete ran ahead to see if he could recognise our beach, which left me screaming for him to 'PLEASE WAIT' like a lunatic. It felt like we were in a film. Panic stricken and adrenaline filled I ran like never before! Over walls, through streams, wading through swamps, through rice fields. We asked directions from various people who were sitting on their verandas watching the storm, but because the hotel has no signpost outside, most locals don't really know of it's existence, and just pointed blankly in one direction or another.

The sun was setting fast now and the rain was not getting any slower. After another 20 minutes or so of running around like crazed headless chickens in the pelting rain we found a young guy who spoke perfect English, and begged him to walk us back to the guest house. We eventually arrived back. Thanks to our hero. Two hours later than planned, very muddy (I slipped and fell flat on my back at one point, right into the slimy red mud!), very wet and extremely hungry!

A delicious meal and a hot shower later and we were right as rain. (pardon the pun).

We spent another day relaxing on the beautiful, totally private beach, (it's amazing how changable the weather is) and enjoying yet more amazing, fresh homemade food. This is definitely the type of place that you could unwind in for a week or so, but we have decided that we really need to keep moving. We have only 9 days left in India so have decided to do some serious travelling over the next 3 days to see Mysore and Hampi, and then to Goa. These last places we really want to see before we relax in Goa for a few days. It means 3 consecutive nights of night buses, but we are now hardened travellers, and this does not faze us!!

Until next time! x
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