Thank Varkala for that

Trip Start Jan 21, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our journey to Varkala began with our first Indian train ride and it was a pretty good experience.  The train itself was pretty old but we had air con and had booked seats in a carriage so as to avoid the sleeper class.  It would have been a wholly enjoyable experience had the train not been delayed by 4 hours!  Unfortunately they were working on the tracks and so it would stop at stations for an hour at a time.  We passed the time playing cards, Spell 'o' fun (a cheap Scrabble) and discussing what we thought would await us at Varkala.

We were to be rewarded for our patience as Varkala, and in particular Shiva Garden where we were staying, was very welcoming.  It had a travellers vibe we didn't find in Kochi and Shiva had a huge outdoor area where we could chill in hammocks and meet other people.  Our first day was spent enjoying the outdoor space and checking out the beach.  As beaches go it was ok but perhaps we have been tainted by seeing Boracay first as we couldn't help but compare!  The beach is set under a clifftop where all the restaurants and cafes are located.  It made a nice change to be able to chill out with a view of the sea knowing the beach was below us.  There were some nice restaurants with pretty good food of differing cuisines, great for me as I had started to get bored of eating curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  Beer was also much more widely available than in Kochi, but due to the lack of licensing we had to keep the bottles at our feet and drink it out of mugs.  We didn't mind, beer is beer!

On our second day we met a group of friends who we hung out with pretty much from that point on.  Ofer and Nitzan - a married couple from Israel, Trish - a Canadian on a yoga mission, and finally Tamara and Andrew - a Mancunian couple who we bonded with immediately and who we travelled with for the remainder of our stay in India.  It was really nice to have a group to spend time with and share travelling stories, very useful for us as we are still at the beginning of our adventure.  The rest of the time in Varkala was to be spent in their company and lazing about until we decided to move on with Tamara and Andrew to Alleppey. 

Alleppey is famous for it's backwaters and houseboats but we had originally written it off as hiring a boat can be expensive.  With our new-found BFF's we spent no time in figuring out our route there (mainly thanks to Tamara - 8 hours of travelling!) and booking ourselves on a boat to spend the next day and night on.  It absolutely lived up to expectations and our early initiative of buying beer and vodka paid off.  Tom and Andrew had to go to a government liquor store and were ushered inside away from the baying crowd of Indian men to buy their alcohol safely away from prying eyes and fingers!  It was pretty funny for us girls watching them until we too were ushered in, at which point all eyes were on us, as western women.  Uncomfortable doesn't even brush the surface!  Finally, with a crate of beer in hand we were able to embark on our tour and spent the day and night relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery, playing lots of card games, drinking our beer, and as the night wore on laughing hysterically at each other!  This is pretty much how the rest of the time we spent with Tamandrew went. 

When it came to leaving Alleppey we had to decide where else we wanted to visit in India in the time we had.  Andrew and Tamara had a few days more than us and were eventually headed towards Goa, but we had a week left in which to see some other parts of Kerala before me and Tom had to head back to Kochi for our flight to Cambodia.  We decided on Munnar, an area famed for its tea plantations in the mountains.  And so began another mammoth journey (not really, a 7 hour bus ride) to another destination...

NB:  The wifi in India was sparse at best, hence why I am writing all the blogs now!
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