The Surprising South

Our first stop in our mini tour of the province of Kerala was Cherai Beach. We found a nice little guest house online which was right on the beach. All the rooms were on the ground floor and upstairs was a lovely terrace where we sat for hours watching the sea. As it’s the monsoon season we had regular powerful storms and the sea was generally rough, but it was still mesmerising. 

The first night we stayed there was one other guest as well as ourselves, but she left the next day leaving us the sole occupants. It was nice to have the place to ourselves and we would find that places would be generally quiet as it was the off season. 

We were told that Fort kochi was a lively little town with bustling markets and shops so we decided to move on. We took a short bus journey to the ferry port, and then a boat across the short distance at a cost of 3 pence each!

Unfortunately our stay in Fort Kochi was marred by constant rain so we didn’t get to experience any of the things we came for, but instead took refuge in lovely little bar drinking 8% lagers!

The next day we took a bus to Alleppey as we had heard it’s the best place to experience the backwaters and it’s where all the houseboat experiences would be found. The bus journey was 2 hours of pure psychopathic driving, most of it spent overtaking slower traffic and so on the wrong side of the road facing down oncoming traffic forcing everyone to swerve! 

When we arrived in Alleppey we instantly knew it was a place we’d like to stay for a few days. It just had a vibe of relaxation about it.

A beautiful temple in Alleppey

We found a nice guest house and really enjoyed our chats with the young guy working there and his friend who managed one of the neighbouring guesthouses.

Produl and Upsal

On our first day in Alleppey we ventured out onto town and eventually found a little local restaurant for lunch. We sat down and were given quite an extensive menu to peruse. After 5 minutes or so we had made our choices and indicated to the young waiter. We tried our best to describe what we wanted, but each time he kept saying no, that wasn’t available. Eventually we asked ok, what is available?! He said Chicken Biriyani. It was at that moment we looked around the crowded restaurant and saw that everyone was in fact eating Chicken Biryani! So, I guess we’ll be having that as well then, although quite why we were given the menu, and a full 5 minutes to look it over is anyones guess!

So, our daily sessions of chicken biryani lunch for about 70 pence has been a regular instance now. In fact, we go to a different restaurant each day and have the same thing just to compare. So, if you ever come to Kerala, be prepared to enjoy a Chicken Biriyani, and if you have any doubts, we have an extensive listing of the best to worst. Who needs Trip Advisor when you have us!

One of our days in Alleppey we took a bus a few miles up the coast to a place called Mararai Beach. It was recommended to us by Produl, the young manager of the guest house we stayed at. The bus ticket cost around 10p each, and they threw in the banging Indian music and obligatory crazy driving for free. Once there we took a lovely walk on the white sands for about a mile.

This was of course after a lunch of, you guessed it, Chicken Biriyani. One of the lower ranked examples I might add. Even though it had a surprisingly high chicken content, it still couldn’t claw it’s way into our top 50!

As we walked on the beach with our feet in the warm water we noticed that it was just us. We didn’t see another living soul the whole time we walked which was wonderful. To have the whole beach to ourselves was an amazing feeling. 

We also had an amazing houseboat experience which you know all about if you have read Seda’s “Babam” post.

Next and our final destination in India was Varkala. We reached Varkala via a stinky train journey which wasn’t very enjoyable at all. But these things happen and you just get through them.

Another one of those unpleasant experiences was the hostel we stayed on our first night in Varkala. Next morning we were out before breakfast to find a decent place and which we eventually did. The silver lining around our dark cloud was that we found the really fun part of the town, the clifftop path.

Because it is off season, most of shops and cafes are closed but the open ones are plenty for us. There is a nice holiday town feel to Varkala, we really like it.

We wander up and down the clifftop pathway each day (when it’s not too hot!) looking at the various shops and trying out the different restaurants in turn. So far we have had Tibetan, Italian, Chinese and of course Indian. 

A few times we got up early and went for a run along the beach. Expecting it to be deserted it was anything but to our amazement. I know it sounds romantic running on the beach but it is not so much when the temperatures already reaching 30 degrees and the humidity is over 85%! I much preferred to enjoy the beach in the evenings with a beautiful Varkala sunset.

Ayurvedic treatments seem to more prevalent here in the south of India, so we thought we’d give it a try. We found a nice place that offered us a good deal so we thought why not. This travelling in off season really seems to be paying off!

We opted for the traditional hot oil massage which although nice, it didn’t blow us away. One thing that was good though was the price, which wouldn’t pay for a night out in a local pub back home for the 2 of us, even if one of us was driving!

The south of India has indeed been surprising, with its beautiful backwaters, tropical beaches and the differences in its culture and cuisine. It feels like an entirely different country compared to the beautiful Himalayan mountains of the North and the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

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