Wednesday, 13 March 2013


I'm currently writing from a lakeside resort hotel in Kumarakom which is a small town in the Southern State of Kerala. We've spent the last few days in Kerala- first in Cochin, then on a houseboat along the Keralan backwaters and finally at our current hotel. Southern India is completely different to Northern India. Firstly, the climate is insane. The humidity is about 90% as I can tell as every time I walk outside my hair sprouts into a particularly fetching ball of frizz and you instantly feel the need for a shower. The scenery, as a consequence, is much greener and there are coconut palms everywhere! The south doesn't have the same vibe as the North either- religion and spiritualism are much more apparent in the North and even the language is completely different. It's not as busy or hectic- it's much more chilled out and relaxing!

To be completely frank, I wasn't impressed with Cochin. It's a busy port town and it is much more modern and European-looking than anywhere else we have visited. I was really expecting to love South India but in the new part of the town you could quite easily be in an other large city in the world and there isn't anything unique or interesting about it. The old town is marginally better- there's a few things to see. The Jewish part of the town is interesting and pretty and the old synagogue there is gorgeous. Along the waterfront, there's a large number of fishermen using traditional Chinese fishing nets (all manually operated) which is quite an interesting sight. We also went to another open-air laundry (I don't really understand why we keep getting taken to these, although they are fairly interesting) and I felt this iron which is so heavy I couldn't pick it up and it works by filling it with coconut shells and setting them on fire for fuel!!

There were two highlights of the day which I did really enjoy. The first was for lunch we got to go to Indian couples house (Anto and Leela) and they prepared lunch for us in a typical Keralan style. The food here is amazing- completely different to the North as everything has coconut in it and there is much more fresh fish. The second, was in the evening when we went to a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is an ancient form of Indian dancing with elaborate costumes and make-up (we also got to see the dancers apply this) and a complicated string of gestures symbolising different emotions. That was pretty interesting as it was completely different to any other form of dance I've ever encountered. I'm not sure if I'm doing Cochin justice, but as I say it wasn't a patch on other cities which we have visited and I definitely wouldn't be anxious to return.

The next morning, we drove to Alleppey (about 90 minutes away) for something which I had been really looking forward to. A trip along the Keralan backwaters on a houseboat. In Kerala there are a series of working waterways where there are large numbers of fishermen and small villages. It's absolutely stunning! We had the boat to ourselves apart from the 3 crew members and the landscape and the scenery are amazing. There were rice paddies, coconut palms, gorgeous tropical birds, cotton trees and so much lush greenery everywhere! Watching the sunset across the water was amazing and the daytime on the boat, we both loved!! As soon as it got dark though, we both struggled. We had a choice of either eating our dinner in the pitch black, or turning the light on and being swarmed with a thousand insects (no exaggeration!!). I found about 3 disgusting grasshoppery things in our food (bowk) and even though the food prepared by the crew was delicious, it didn't really inspire much of an appetite. When we went to our cabin, the room was filled with insects (I know it's not surprising given that we were on a boat) and the bed was like a boulder. Basically, if you ever find yourself in Kerala, DEFINITELY do the houseboat but maybe just do the day trip rather than the overnight trip if you want to get some sleep!!

The hotel we're at now has got a beautiful view of the largest lake in the Backwaters. We got dropped off by the boat this morning and we have a blissful day in which to do absolutely nothing!! I've booked an Ayurvedic massage this afternoon which is something Kerala is famed for and then I'm heading to the pool to finish the trip in style!!! Home in 2 days and I'm so sad to be leaving but I've had the best time ever so far! India truly is amazing!

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