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Published: August 9th 2017
Geo: 8.08403, 77.5419
After a brilliant week with our tour group we were back on our own. We took a night bus to Kodaikanal via Palani. It rained heavily as we left and we passed an ambulance on its side in the middle of the road! Only in India!
We arrived at 4am into Palani which wasn't pleasant, strong urine smells, rubbish everywhere, dodgy and drunk people all around and a guy hitting a lady in the face.
We got to Kodaikanal in the western ghats where the altitude increased to 2000 masl.
I guess we had high expectations of Kodaikanal but we found that the room was damp and cold, that shops don't open until 11 and to find a non Indian breakfast is a struggle.
We didn't have a very good first impression and after a nap and lunch, it rained heavily for hours.
It wasn't all bad and we liked it a bit more the following morning.
Clear blue skies greeted Kodaikanal which was above the clouds. We went to the lookout near town for some nice views. On a clear day you can apparently see the valley below. We took a walk to the lake which was nice and quiet and offered
some nice reflections.
After a brief city tour we headed by bus to Madurai. There were some nice views on the way down of the mountainous western ghats.
Once we arrived we went and visited the Gandhi museum which was great to learn about India under English rule and what Gandhi's role in an independent India was. Very interesting! We visited the main temple complex in which there are five temples, the second highest in India. These temples are extremely detailed and colourful. Entry is free but knees and shoulders need to be covered and cameras aren't allowed but phone cameras are! strange!
We then took our last long hall bus ride to the tip of India, Kanyakumari! We liked Kanyakumari, there is some nice scenery, it's where three seas meet and you can see the sun rise and set over the sea. Many locals come to visit the temples and there is heaps of accommodation. Some of the houses are quite colourful but it is also quite windy.
We upgraded to a hotel with a pool and after a hot day walking around, we enjoyed a pool to ourselves with great views on top of the roof.
Then it was train
time back to Varkala!
We Stayed in Varkala in a nice hotel, with a swimming pool, for five great nights. We loved Varkala and enjoyed having our little routine of a sleep in followed by breakfast, chillout, shopping, lunch, chillout, swimming pool, cliffside relaxing, yoga (mostly Anna), dinner then bed.
As the days grew closer to Xmas, it was evident that there were more tourists arriving, foreign and local. On one of the days we did a backwaters tour in a canoe.
This was great! So calm and relaxing with stunning landscape. It was an hour and a half to get there followed by two and a half on the canoe. In the area they grow Banana, Pineapple, Papaya, Jack fruit, Vanilla, Coconut, Pepper and a few more. All that in one area makes for quite a resourceful place.
Varkala is a great place to relax, we were glad to make the decision to come back after the tour.
For our final three nights we stayed in Kovalam just south of Trivandrum. We had just stepped out of the taxi when we bumped in to an old friend randomly, it was a quick but great little reunion.
Kovalam is also a nice area to stay for
a few days. There are a few coves, we stayed at lighthouse beach. There is lots of accommodation, seaside restaurants and shopping opportunities. Even surfing!
Christmas was a bit strange there. There were no real menus available for a Christmas meal in the restaurants and the beach was completely packed with locals going on dangerous boat trips whilst drinking. Apparently one person had their arm cut by the motor propeller and we saw one boat capsize.
We did spend a little bit of Christmas Day doing Christmas shopping. Talk about last minute!
In the evening we had a great seafood feast along the beach, a different Christmas meal but amazing!
The next day saw us depart for our final destination, The Maldives!
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