So sometime at around 7am listening to some more Bollywood singing we saw a sign for Varkala (our destination)-so with the help of a kind man who was singing along to the Bollywood music having a whale of a time we asked the driver to stop here rather than our intended stop which was further down the road (we didn't know this when booking and were obviously sold any old ticket going in a southernly direction). We were dropped off in the middle of nowhere and definitely paid white faced people price to get to where we were staying via a tub tuk.
We had chosen to go to Varkala as we wanted a few days resting In a bungalow on the beach to catch some rays before heading to the ashram and onto vietnam. There are two main beach towns in kerala and this got the best write up. It's a town on the cliff top with a couple of beaches to go to and not much else.
We made our way to the bungalows we had booked...they were run by a young Russian couple and they seemed very pleased with our money. Having looking online at the
current price of the bungalows we saw the price had dropped since we had booked them, that explains the sly smiles. Still it was cheap at £3 each a night for our own bungalow ensuite.
We got into the room and it started to rain...ok we thought, a little shower is ok, we can have a snooze then hit the beach. This dribble of rain turned into full monsoon and we were held captives for a couple of hours waiting for it to pass. Hunger got the better of us and we donned our rain coats and headed out. This heavy rained continued off an on for the duration of our stay. No beach time for us.
Turns out we were about 2-3kms away from the main town where food and shops were. We were going to get quite fit doing this walk. The walk was nice...a red bricked walk way along the coast and up to the cliff top. It didn't lead us the to emerald city but there were a few hotels and shops, yoga places, restaurants and bars. A lot of these were closed unfortunately due to it being out of season. This combined with
the weather panicked us thinking what are we going to do for 5 days. There was no point leaving so we just went into slow mo mode. We got drunk a couple of times, learnt and played backgammon using our new wooden board set we bought in goa (I'm going to say I'm leading the championship but only because I'm writing this blog) read our books and hung out. We did venture into town (the non touristy part) a couple of times and ate some great (cheap) local food..mainly masala dosa (my favourite). We were living on £8-12 a day here (including accommodation) with a main dish costing around £1 in the touristy bit. Time actually flew and next thing we knew we were on the local train up to Amritapuri ashram, Which is where the Amma ashram is.
We spent 5 days at the amritapuri ashram (please see seperate blog).
We headed straight from the ashram up the coast on a bus to the city of Apperlley. The bus journey wasnt too bad at all but getting off was a huge ordeal. Imagine a packed out bus, us and an isle to walk the length off with
backpacks and people still pouring on. Obviously these people did not stop getting on or out of the way getting out the way which resulted in a 'kill or be killed' scenario - or for me the start of panic central!. I even considered climbing out the window. Eventually we made it despite the bus driver trying to leave twice whilst we were getting off. Haha no clue! Apperlley is a smallish town which is dubbed the Venice of India. That is, if Venice had thousands of people, major dirt and lots of beeping scooters and tuk tuks then maybe it would be the same..kind of. As soon as we got off the bus a guy tried to scam us, we hadn't had someone try to scam us for a while so we found it quite amusing and entertaining. Apparently the tuk tuk couldn't take us to our hostel we had booked the night before as it was closed down and the road was water logged, but he knew a place which should be able to fit us it.... ok mate. Surprise the next tuk tuk we asked knew where to go and that it was open so off we
After some negotiating with a houseboat operator that night and having seen the boat In the morning we agreed on a price of £60 for both of us for one night Including meals. We knew this would be the most expensive thing we did in India but I can tell you now it was worth every penny. We had heard some horror stories so we were so pleased it worked out for us, especially as this was to be our last night in India and wanted to leave with a good memory.
We boarded the boat at 11.30 and straight away were given some tea and banana fritters. We just spent our time reading and sitting on our own terrace catching some rays. This was excellent. There were other houseboats on the water, but we were in our own little houseboat bubble which suited us and it was Nice to wave to other people having a good time along the way. We were quite relaxed on the boat but others had the tunes on full blast and their guests must have started drinking early, I wonder how many people fall overboard?
Lunch came and was a
huge meal of different curries, rice, Dahl and chapatis. Too much even for us and we requested less next time as we didn't want to waste too much food. After lunch there was more lounging around and we stopped to buy some alcohol before reaching our destination for this day on the banks of the river. We had a little walk and caught another beautiful keralan sunset...this was definitely the King of amazing sunsets.
That evening we started on the booze and got dressed up for our last night and dinner-dressed up means, have a shower and wash hair, put make up on and even some body spray! We ate a delicious meal and the chef put some Indian romantic music on for us..which was something from a bollywood film, very dramatic and very Indian which was funny.
Next morning, following yet another huge and delicious meal we were back where we started around lunch time. Wow what a fantastic experience..I already want to do it all again and for at least a couple of nights next time!
We needed to get up to Cochin to catch our flight at 11pm that night and our chef suggested
his friend who would take us in his tuk tuk, the price wasn't bad and it turned into a mini sightseeing day with stops en route to Cochin and our driver was a great guide explaining the keralan way of life and showing us different things. We stopped at church's, a rug making factory which used coconuts to make the rugs, white sandy beaches (very litered unfortunately), to see the local Fisherman's catch and the traditional fishing techniques of using chinese nets to catch fish. We arrived in Cochin and found a room to leave our things for the few hours we had before we had to head for our flight. Unfortunately we had to pay for the night which was a little annoying but it was worth it to dump our stuff and to have a shower before flying.
We had a little look around Cochin hiring another tuk tuk man to drive us around the main spots. We saw the Jewish area, the huge row of Chinese fishing nets and lots of churches. We were paying the tuk tuk driver by the hour and when he took us to where people washed their clothes we decided he
Even more relaxed
was scraping the barrel with the tour to make it last longer, after some protesting from us he finally agreed to take us back to the hostel. We had a very questionable last meal of the worst tandoori chicken we had had our whole time in India then headed back to the room, got sorted and that was it...India was over.....flight to Ho Chi min please!
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