23.01.2017 35 °C
As we relax on the beach (we are really enjoying the amazing beaches here!) we think over the past 10 days of travelling. Our time in India seems to be running away with us and yet it feels like a long time ago since we left. Christmas seems a distant memory and our 'travelling lifestyle' has well and truly kicked in. Its a funny thing when you first begin a big trip with no real end in sight. We've passed that 'holiday hump' period, our clothes are getting a bit grubby, Rob's beard is out of control and our perception of a short bus ride is no less than 5 hours! Here's what we've been up to over a busy 10 days.
We've escaped the grasp of the suffocating city and arrived at the coast where the pace of life slowed. We were instantly calmer and more relaxed although I did encounter my first quick bout of sickness which luckily had passed by the morning. Fort Cochin was certainly more touristy than Mysore with art galleries and fancy cafes around every corner. The Chinese fishing nets on the harbour side were particularly fascinating. They were based on a cantilever system using 10 or so heavy boulders to counter the weight of the structure and catch whilst 6 or so hard working men pulled on ropes to help get the cantilever moving until the boulders took over and finished the job. We expected to see a bounty of fish in the nets but to our surprise there was barely enough to feed a family of four on a Friday night! As we watched we saw in the harbour a groups of dolphins who by the looks if it were having a much more successful time than the fishermen continually encircling a school of fish and filling their bellies. We spent the rest of the day in and out of art galleries and headed off to Munnar the next day. In the evening we enjoyed the most incredible authentic kathakali dancing where an all male crew dress up in extravagant clothing and tell an ancient tradition through their expressions and dance - no talking allowed!
A definite highlight of our trip. The unrelenting heat does get to you after a while so it was a relief to climb the mountain and reach a cooler climate. The tea plantations are breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains always hold a special place in our hearts and as we rode around on a scooter into the national park away from the tourists we encountered a lot of native and real village life. The stares were pretty intense but the people were friendly and we had an incredible day.
The next morning we got up at 4.30am for a 'sunrise trek'. To our surprise we were the only ones on the trek and had the mountain to ourselves. Our guide, Jobin, was an excellent host although his speed up the mountain was a jogging pace for the both of us! As we sat and drank our masala chai at the top of the mountain we felt the most satisfied we have been since we arrived in India. It has never failed to surprise us with how lush the greenery is and how diverse the landscape is - it is a truly beautiful country and the people are so vibrant and friendly, its difficult not to fall in love with it all (although at times love isn't quite the word we'd use).
The hub of Munnar was hectic and overcrowded so we ended up eating in the same place every night to avoid it. We enjoyed cheap and authentic food (back to curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and when we ordered the waiters looked with dismay, shaking their heads and reordered what they thought would be the best option. The last time we were there the food simply arrived whilst we were looking at the menu. It was a funny experience and we wondered whether other tourists are treated to the waiters 'suggestion' as we were.
We left the cool of the mountains and into the mosquito ravaged location of Alleppey backwaters. A 'must see' according to Lonely Planet but it didn't really live up to expectation. It was a great place to meet other travellers and we ended up opting for day cruise in the backwaters as opposed to spending 10x price for an overnight stay. We we paired up with a lovely Austrian couple called Anatole and Verena and we exchanged numbers and hope to see them in New Zealand. Its so nice to hear other people's stories of their trip and get to know their adventures, picking up tips of what to do and learning about their lives. We've had the opportunity to talk to more strangers in the last three weeks here than we have in a year in England. The travelling lifestyle opens people up and they're willing to share. In the end a big group of us went out to dinner and it turned out our experience in Allepey was more fun due to the people we met rather than anything else.
We've decided to spend the last few days in Kerala at the beach. It isn't the nitty gritty "incredible india" but it is beautiful and relaxing, full of restaurants with the freshest fish and we have finally had a break from curry. The beach is at the bottom of a cliff and a ripcurl forms on the shore every time the waves lap the water. The sunsets are beautiful and now enjoyed with a beer in hand (after our two weeks of abstinence not out of choice) and we get to catch up on our reading and writing, enjoying a slower pace of life.
Looking towards the next part of our trip.
Our last week will be spent in the chaos of Tamil Nadu cities. We're preparing ourselves for the certain craziness of it all and each city stop will be short and sweet, cramming in the sites and moving onto the next place. It will be interesting to see what we make of it all. For now we're going to soak up the rays and put back on the calories we've lost from the rest of the journey.
Love Susie and Rob x