Cliffs And Beaches
Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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Where I stayed
At the boarding gate, three people in uniform tried to open the door with a good old fashioned lock and key system. After a walkie-talkie call and lots of looking around by the men, the deft female eventually got the job done.
Near the end of our first flight of the day, Mumbai airport was busy so we spent a little extra time circling overhead. When we finally landed we were driven by bus on a circuitous route to the terminal entrance that was only a stone's throw away from the aircraft we'd just deplaned.
We encountered more bureaucracy heading to our next flight and had to pay to get our tickets printed again. We downed a few samosas while waiting in the multi-gate, almost announcement-free airport lounge area. It had to be the easiest place in the world to miss a flight.
Over half an hour late we flew over vast slums, an unfinished highway and some taller, more modern looking buildings. The plane was virtually empty so we took full advantage, claiming a whole row each.
It was 31 degrees Celsius when we touched down in Thiruvananthapuram (aka Trivandrum), the furthest south we would get. In the interest of time, we ditched the $6 train we'd booked previously and hired an expensive taxi instead. For the little over one hour, 60 kilometre journey to Varkala we paid 1,120 rupees (~$21). On the way, we laid eyes on the Arabian Sea / Indian Ocean for the first time. Thus, our transportation that day went like this, in chronological order: taxi, plane, bus, bus, plane, bus, taxi.
The south was noticeably different. The pace seemed more relaxed. The land was thick with palm trees and the fruit stands sold red, gold and green bananas
Check-in at Haiwa Beach Residency was much less official than we'd experienced everywhere else. They only took down all the details from one of our passports, instead of the usual two handwritten copies of both, plus a photocopy. Also, their address was simply Cliff, Varkala.
After dropping our things we took a walk toward the waterfront. The cliff-side laneway was lined with the usual tourist shops and restaurants. We stopped at one that was recommended in our guidebook. Although the name Trattorias was clearly Italian, its sign proudly announced that it was an 'Oriental Food Court' and 'German Bakery'. Sylvia had fish molee and Jason, not feeling overly adventurous again just yet, ordered penne carbonara. We both had fresh fruit shakes as well, marking our triumphant return to the tropics. The sun was setting behind a thick blanket of cloud as the fishing boats emerged to comb the waters below.
Strolling back the way we came, fresh seafood was suddenly on display at almost every restaurant we passed. We cut in to the dark dirt road and were thankful that Jason had brought his head lamp along to guide us through the narrow laneways
The next morning we woke to the sounds of nature. The sky was blue, but the intense humidity made sure it didn't last long.
We decided to check out The Juice Shack for breakfast. They had a wide variety of amazing fresh juice combinations. Jason's pick was the Papaya Dream, a potent mix of papaya, pineapple, ginger and lime.
Then it was finally time to hit the beach. Lying on the sand it was so hot that the sky was white and Jason thought he might pass out. The water was warm but refreshing, and a little rough. A lady hawker carved and served us a whole pineapple for 60 rupees.
Running low on fluids we headed back to The Juice Shack. Sylvia had a sandwich but Jason couldn't eat in the intense heat so another Papaya Dream filled the gap between meals.
We took an afternoon stroll to a couple of deserted black sand beaches further north
With no other way home than through the tourist strip again, the shopkeepers called out to Sylvia "Ma'am you promised me you look my shop on way back". Although they were still touting their wares, including everything from sarongs to giant prawns, they did it with a smile and in a much gentler manner. Another late afternoon power outage kept Sylvia from posting hotel reviews online.
We went to Cafe Del Mar for dinner and both ordered mango, banana, pineapple, coconut and honey smoothies. With front row seats it was just us, the chill-out music, a mellow breeze and the sounds of the sea. Sylvia tried and loved another fish curry while Jason had to settle for cheesy vegetarian pasta. The full moon rose above the palms on our way back to the room.