Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Vacation In Kerala And Other Places

Kerala, with its beauty and simplicity has charmed in the way in my life. So much so that this year this has become my third trip in three years. Not bad for a travel enthusiast with a toddler in tow. But this holiday has been more than a vacation- it was more of an adventure. We started our trip from Hyderabad, taking out flight to Kochi where we stayed the night at Marriot, which is a great option if you want some place to stay near the airport. However, to move on, we had the city to explore and planned to stay in Trident.


A music enthusiast, we  found out that the best way to start was with Kathakali Center (I love the deep throat Malayam words coming from a local when they say the word Kathakali). You really don’t have to book yourself in advance and the tickets are pretty cheap  but the programme is worth so much more. You sit in a beautiful air conditioned auditorium where foreigners dominate the seats. Sadly I saw only another Indian honeymoon couple. You will get an introduction to the dance Mudras and then a play where the famous avatar of Vishnu is featured. The plays change every day so if you want to visit again, you would never be bored. A pamphlet explaining the language will help you enjoy a lot more.
The nest day we visited the Fort Kochi, where as you would hope, there isn’t a fort. You can find the Chinese fishing nets and fishermen busy with their day to day tasks. You could take a leisure stroll in the pathway around the beach. After a little spice shopping, we made our way to Allepy


To escape the humdrum of the city, Allepy is more of an escapist dream house boat. The backwaters and the boats would mesmerize you into an euphoric state of mind. So after getting a good price of a two bedroom houseboat (7, 500 rupees), we boarded the boat, saying good bye to materialism, yet keeping in mind that we do want a little bit of music on the way. As I sat, watching the drifting waters, feeling the raindrops, I was glad to be away from my mobile for a while. You really do not need gadgets except perhaps a good camera to click the memories. So after posing for a while, you can just be quiet and enjoy the silence. The food wasn’t exceptionally good but I wasn’t there for the food, so I didn’t complaint. You will find your fellow vacationers around who will stare back at you, wondering if you are having more fun than them. Various foreign couples travelling in groups, waving at us and we waved back. Soon after a peaceful night, I woke up pretty early to wait for the boat to start again.
We got ready to go towards our nest destination.

The ABBA restaurant had a good collection of books left by the travelers

If you are looking for some “I don’t know anyone” time, then you should come here.  The beauty is staying on the mountain, overlooking the beach. So we took a hotel who had its own very cafĂ© with loads of choices and settled for two days. After Allepy, my feet were itching to feel the warm salty waters. You take a path that has some very uneven stairs down to the beach and just dive in. I preferred just a little soaking and lots of reading with a romance. The sleepy town of Varkala is just the place to make you feel like a complete foreigner in India.
The crowd is mostly  from Russia, China, UK and USA and their abandonment to live this kind of life is simply to marvel at. The shops that never seem to end will give you something of a view while you talk a walk back to your hotel. You will hardly find any Indian food as a choice but do try the grilled fish (they have loads of choices) that is just so good.  you have venues where they have some live music too.  


So the boat ride to enjoy some bird watching, you come to the other side of Kerela where you can enjoy a speed boat round to the estuary (where the river and the beach meet). There are floating restaurants around and for a quick bite, its quite alright and nothing to boast about, otherwise, just have your meal and take the boat. The water is clean and you can stay a minimum of five to ten minutes to have a good time.
On the way you can find Elephant rides too but then it was raining pretty hard and we couldn’t stay. On the way we did stay and have coffee at The Leela, which is always the kind of luxury I look for in a holiday.

Tips for a comfortable stay:
1.       Carry an Umbrella to this City. The weather is unpredictable.
2.       Also light cotton clothes is recommended because you will never find winters here
3.       For people travelling with children- carry a mosquito repellent, sunscreen, anti allergic cream like caladrel/ calamine lotion. And lots of extra clothes, diapers and toys to keep them busy.
4.       Bargain at the spices shops because they are pretty good at ripping you off.
5.       Carry walking shoes for sure.
6.       Book a reliable houseboat because it stops at a village at night.
7.       You do not have to book beforehand for Varkala, sometimes they give a pretty good deals for last minute travellers.

The Most comfortable and reasonable mode of transport for me was a cab. Its costed me 10,000 Rs to travel from one city to another. I could shop and dump my luggage on the way too. Hope you plan your trip soon because there is no place like Kerala.