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November 29th 2014
Published: November 29th 2014
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Leaving Gokarna all the trains to Thrissur, where Anu lives, were fully booked. I was facing 12 hours on a train in fucking general class, which is basically a wooden seat you share with two other people. I was dreading the journey and planning to brake the rules and just sit on the floor in sleeper. Luckily at the station I got talking to an Indian man, who was also making the same journey as me, with the same ticket. Basically if you buy general class ticket and then go in sleeper you can get an upgrade and it'll be cheaper than buying a sleeper ticket to start with. What the fuck!

Having misunderstood Anu when she told me where she lives, I was initially getting the train to Kochi, which is two hours past where she actually lives, lucky I met the guy at the station, I was able to use his phone to call her, I now have visions of getting off the train in Kochi and being like “where the fuck is Anu!”.

I arrive at 3AM, and meet Anu, and go to her house, It's in the middle of an urban sprawl, some absolutely massive houses around where she lives and in a really nice area. One of the bigger houses is worth around 40 Lakh! (£40,000), I'm now thinking retirement in India might be a better option than back home, huge house and early retirement, but that's a fucking long way off yet, and many more places to visit.

Anu lives in a flat, that she rents from the people below. Really nice place. There area is surrounded by coconut trees, and big houses.

Kerela surprised me a lot, it seems to be a lot more developed than the rest of India, I didn't see any slums, although I didn't go to a big city, and everyone generally seems quite well off, and well educated. Indian politics needs to follow the example set by Kerela, because whatever they're doing, they're doing it well.

Being sick of going place to place and looking at temples, which are mostly all the same, I was looking forward to a week of not doing much, because doing nothing in Goa and Gorkarna wasn't enough. To be fair when I think back, I've spent most of the trip chilling out, but that's what you're meant to do on holiday, right?

There's a few different things to do in Kerela, but having already decided that I'm definitely going to come back to India at some point in the not too distant future, I'll leave some things for the next trip.

Tuesday I went to nearby Guruvayur, there's a temple, which it turns out doesn't allow non-Hindus inside, a beach which I now regret not visiting, and an elephant enclosure. I went to the elephant enclosure instead of the beach, apparently i've not learned from previous experience yet that animals are treated like shit in India. The elephants are all chained up, one leg at the front and one at the back, so they can't move, and they look really sad. It breaks by heart to see, the saving grace was it only cost me 30rs (30p) to see. The elephants are used for festivals at the temple and I assume for Thrissur Puram, the biggest festival in Kerela and the main tourist attraction to Thrissur, unfortunately it's only in the Hindu month of Medam (April-May).

On the Wednesday after arriving Sunday early morning, I make the trip down to Alappuza to see the main attraction in Kerela, the backwaters! Three hours on the train, 60rs, bargain!
Having looked at the various different options for boating on the backwaters, I decide to go on a local ferry. 2½ hours, from Alappuza to Kottayam, 15rs. Spot on. Fuck paying 800rs to sit on a boat all day, which in hindsight I definitely would've got bored of, and the local ferry had no other tourists, aside from Indian ones who had also chosen the cheaper option.

I really don't get tourists, they say they want to get off the beaten track etc, then go and do the most touristy things!

Most people get the 800rs Kettu Vallam (Houseboat), and cruise around all day, the boats are nice to be fair, but if you're on one, you can't see the outside anyway. The local ferry went through part of the same route, and most of the backwaters look exactly the same. A waste of a day if you ask me, and I was bored by the end of two hours. The only downside to the local ferry was the mosquitoes, I could see them everywhere and feel them all over my ankles, horrible little bastards they are! A total waste of life! (much like a certain Mr.Phillips in Newcastle).

I get to Kottayam, there's a two hour wait for the train, luckily there's a bar, which surprises me as most of Kerela is dry. I kill two hours talking to very drunk Indians, who're trying to speak English, but it's very broken and mostly ended with them shouting at me in Malayalam haha.

I'm not sure, but I might have told one of them I'd stay at his house....good job I left the bar before he did.

Thurday I went to Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours, a church, in Thrissur (where I was staying). It has a 79M church tower, which is apparently the largest in Asia. You can go to the top, either via lift or stairs, being the health nut that I am, I chose the stairs, huge mistake! I was later walking around feeling like I was going to fall over my legs hurt that much!

Almost every religion can be found in Kerela, and 40% of the population are Christians, apparently St. Thomas (one of Jesus' disciples for those not in the know) went to Kerela and that's the reasoning for all the Christianity.

I was interested to find out if the hymns they sang were in English, direct translations from English, or their own songs. I spoke to the man in charge of the church tower, who didn't speak much English, but I think they're translations.

I'm not really sure how well the Bible has been translated though, or whether it's just a slightly different belief, but in the in the pictures of the nativity, it's depicted as being in a cave rather than an Inn. All quite interesting to see though.

Now for my first return to Tamil Nadu since last year, and to meet up with Raja! He's lives in Tirunelveli, right in the south, and perfectly positioned to visit a lot of local attractions!


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