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Published: January 13th 2017
Our arrival back into India was a little bit calmer than our first in Chennai when we encountered the tail end of Cyclone Varda. We got to Thiruvananthapuram after a short 40 minute flight. This plane, Sri Lankan Air, was smaller that the last we took to Colombo in one significant area. The length of the seat belts! I had to spend 40 minutes holding my breath to enable mine to do up. Mind you I could have just not done the seat belt up as it wasn't checked. At least with it done up I didn't bounce out of my seat when we made our touch down. Worse touchdown ever experienced since a flight into Dunedin back in the early 80's.
We had plenty of rupees left over from our earlier visit ( which technically puts us in the currency smuggling business as its illegal to bring rupees in) and the government run pre-paid taxi counter was open and working. So we were able to book a taxi direct to Varkala, another backpakistan place we had read about, which was about 2 hours drive north. There was hardly any traffic on the road (4.00am) so it went quick. We
did encounter an elephant being lead up the road complete with high viz light on its tail and 4 mahouts guiding it. It was a very amusing sight and relieved some of our tiredness.
Arriving at hotel at 5.30am we were pleased to see we had booked one upmarket enough to have a security guard asleep at the gate rather than just a locked gate which a large number had. We did wonder why he was pulling his trousers up when he came out to open the gate.
Finally got to bed at 6.00am, after a very long day. Unfortunately the mattress was the hardest one we had encountered but perfection is hard to achieve in India.
Varkala is a beach resort a bit unusual from most. It is actually technically a cliff resort with access to a beach at a few places about 15 meters below the cliff. There is a well established walking trail along the cliff top where the restaurants and shops are set up to capture the spectacular sunsets. Most people we encountered were here for yoga or ayurveda spa treatment. I suspect there is a drug sub culture lurking there as well.
Sea food selection
Shelley chose the squid
After waking we went in search of a decent coffee. I had noted in one of our guide books an Italian place at the northern end of the cliffs so we went for a walk in search of it and hopefully an espresso machine. Trattoria was open however the power was out so we had to resort to local coffee which I am a big fan of but Shelley has to suffer through. We got to enjoy this with side show entertainment supplied by an elderly and quite podgy American man who serenaded the restaurant via a portable speaker attached to his chess hooked up to a headset mic and Walkman. It was the best rendition of a Hari Khrisna chant set to The Velvet Underground's "White light, white heat" we have ever heard. I suspect somewhere on that beach is a family saying to themselves "I told you we shouldn't have let Gramps try the mushrooms".
We spent that afternoon by the pool and had a great sea food meal on the cliff top for diner. Plans had been set for the next day to explore the famous Kerala back water by travelling up to Kollam. A great first day back in India.
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