Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
17Trip End Sep 14, 2010
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I still have some catching up to do here but lets get down to Kerala, the only communist state in India and probably one of the most beautiful.
We started off coming on a bus from Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Trivandrum in Kerala, it took about 10 hours or so and a couple of changes but we had some great bollywood movies from the 70's to watch on board although we were practically deaf by the end of it as they do tend to blast out the music on those buses..
Trivandrum was just a night stopover before we then took the bus onto Varkala, this is a slightly developed but not so much that you would cringe and feel like your on a butlins holiday place. As it was Adams birthday we stayed in a bit of a luxurious place for our usual basic bed/bathroom style rooms previously.
Our hotel called, Bohemian Masala was stunning and as it was out of season we got a HUGE discount including breakfast and tax so it was an even bigger bonus!! Whoohoo.. we decided to stay for about 5 nights in the end, we had a gorgeous keralan style hut with a huge bamboo framed bed and massive bathroom/wet room, and a lovely little veranda to chill on when the old monsoon caught up with us, which by the way was 3 of the 5 days we were there.
I became a little obsessed with the giant squeegy that was in our wet room, I literally spent every day about 15 mins squeegining (god knows how to spell that word) I loved it and purposefully adam would come in with his dirty feet once Id cleaned it just so he could watch me do it all over again, they are great fun!!! You had to be there I guess but believe me when we get back my mission is to have a fully tiled bathroom just so I can get one of these squeegies... ahhhhhh
Anyway back to the beach etc.. so Varkala beach is down a cliff so this is why its not as developed as say Goa beaches etc.. along the cliff top are small shops and restaurants and no matter how many times you walk past its always the same thing of "hello madam, you want to see my shop" etc etc.. they do try bless them but I bet if they just didnt ask and left you to it you would buy loads but as they are so in your face you just dont bother, but this is India..
Anyway the surf at Varkala is pretty strong with some very dangerous rips so swimming isnt really something I was up for but a little paddle seemed harmless enough, or so I thought. Low and behold one day I go off into the water only to get smacked down by a huge wave and emerge less my top half of my bikini much to the delight of the local indian men.. Dear God its bad enough they stare when your clothed now I just flashed my boobs at them.. Oh dear dear me very embarrassing.
Once I had recovered from this and we had had our fill of Varkala life we headed up the coast and inland to the town of Alleppey to experience the backwaters.
Kerala is famous for its backwater cruises of which thousands of people come to Kerala for, they tend to hire some luxury house boat made out of palm and bamboo and then cruise down the many miles of tributaries, through lush palm groves and paddy fields and passing through local villages, we however did not do this, Oh no us tight arsed backpackers got the public ferry which instead of costing something like 500 Rupee per person cost 20 rupees in total.. ahhh we live the life. .
However I must say this ferry was great we went from Alleppey to Kanakona and it took about 2 hours, we saw loads of beautiful landscape, the villages, the village people, and I even spotted a terripin so although we didnt have a butler or a comfy bed on the water we had a diesel powered, hard wooden seated vessel but saw just as much this way and really enjoyed it.
From Kanakona we took a bus to Fort Cochin which is about 3 hours up the coast and is a lovely little town. The area of Cochin is set on 3 islands, Ernakullum, Vittal and Fort Cochin, Ernakulum is a busy hub of traffic and chaos but fort cochin is a sleepy little place with a few touristy restaurants etc but so lovely and quiet. The bus didnt take us direct to Fort Cochin, Oh no it dropped in a place I cant even remember but basically the heavens opened stronger than ever when we got off the bus and so we had to wait in this rain for about an hour to figure out where we were for one and how we could get to cochin without paying through the nose.
A lovely little shop owner took pitty on us and invited us in for a little cuppa and some cake (mind you we still had to pay) but he was very sweet to us.. we then bargained a rickshaw and finally arrived in Fort Cochin at about 8pm that night so another long day of travel, ferry, bus, rickshaw...
We stayed only for a couple of days here, they still use some of the old chinese fishing nets so we went down to the water to see them using those but then the heavens again opened and we took shelter only to then be befriended by a very sweet kid but a bit of a cling on.. after 3 hours of chatting to him we tried to make our excuses but he was a tough one to shake although a good kid...
Later that night we went to see the traditional dance of Kerala called Kathkali. Its an amazing thing to see, basically its a famous dance performance all by men the one we saw, they spend about 1-2 hrs doing their intricate makeup then dress up and usually these dancing shows go on for 9 hours luckily ours was only 2 including the makeup session. There is a singer/storyteller also 2 guys playing drums/tablas then 3 dancers its difficult to master they all have to train for 6 years and then the movements of the dancers are so bizarre, its eyes and neck movements for some feelings then hands for description as they don't speak or sing so its all very clever and so much to remember but a good thing to see.
Check out this link which probably describes it better than me.. http://www.kathakalicentre.com/
The next day we headed off to Wayanad National Park, its on the border of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We took a train to Calicut about 3 hours from Cochin then a bus up into the park another 3.5 hrs and VERY bumpy, so much so we were literally flying out the seat it was great fun!! ha ha
We arranged to stay at Varnam Homestay, Oh My God this is the Best place we stayed at in India, its just a farmhouse with 3 rooms of which 2 other couples occupied, the owners are so amazing Beena, the wife is the best cook ever, we had 3 meals a day made for us and truly this was Keralan food at its best. As its set on a farm all the produce is from the land, coffee, spices, fruit, milk, rice, everything.. seriously this place is incredible for the food, the setting and the hospitality. We arrived quite late and met everyone, the next day Beena took us all, inc the other couples for a forest walk, we passed through her paddy fields and into the forest where wild elephants, deer and tigers roam (mind you there's only 26 tigers in the area so chances were slim of seeing one) we met up with some tribal guys who then tracked down an elephant for us.. after much slipping in the mud, getting soaked in the river and smacked in the face by dense overgrowth we found an elephant, at first I couldn't see it but everyone stopped, I was at the back and Adam a few paces ahead.. next bloody thing I know the tribal guys at the front are legging it.. I have no idea where this elephant is to I run at full speed I swear, Usain Bolt style, nearly falling over the others I am convinced this bloody elephant is behind me but then I stop look around and there it is about 20' away and its stopped, flaps its ears and buggers off again.. I bet it was just messing with us, I can picture it now giggling inside at the silly people running, what we must have looked like.. ha ha ha it was brilliant though. but were lucky.
The following day after our near death experience we took a jeep with one of the couples into the national park with a guide, here we saw tonnes of Elephants, Bison, Langurs, Mongoose and a snake it was incredible.
On our final day we, again with the other couples, had a guide take us to these water falls which are not well known so we were the only people there. We had to climb up the side of them about 1.5km to get to the pool where we could swim.. it was so slippy but worst of all were all the leeches we had to contend with on the walk up.. I had 2 Adam got 8 and the others had their fair share too but our guide was armed with salt and tobacco to get rid of the bleeders.. urrghhh.
The water was amazing though, cold but amazing and so worth the blood suckers.. luckily no one experienced anything like the scene in "Stand by me" (just incase you have no clue what I mean, I mean one on their winkies)
The next day we had the most amazing breakfast and then we took another bumpy bus up into the state of Karnataka, of which Ill write about next time..
To see all our photos we are now using a site called Picasa so I will attach a link each time for you to click on where you will see photos from all our travels, Hope you enjoy ..