Calming Kerala

Trip Start Nov 07, 2004
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21
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Trip End May 20, 2005


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Friday, January 21, 2005

During the second of our train rides into Kerala we had our 'Travellers Union' cards rescinded after we chose to pay an extra 60p for seats in an empty carriage, rather than stand, next to the toilets, in an absurdly crowded (people in the luggage racks) II class carriage. Our fellow travellers were further disgusted when they learnt of our destination, the airport, for a short flight to Calicut.

We arrived in Calicut for a few days of pampering. Our hotel was one of the Taj chain, won't bore you with the details as we didn't venture far from the pool, but having a full body Aruyvedic massage was a pleasant if a little weird experience. Essentially you are stripped naked, covered from head to toe in a warm thick oil, then rubbed vigorously for 50 minutes (nope, same-sex masseurs), before being scrubbed with green paste and showered.

Moving further down the coast, we stopped off at Cochin. This is a far nicer fishing town, complete with impressive Chinese style cantilever fishing nets (in full working order, we have the blistered hands to prove it). The hotel was fantastic, it was Mark's 30th and the barman went out on an errand to find us some champagne. Later that night every member of staff came out and wished 'Happy Birthday Mr Mark', before bringing out a big chocolate cake, all to the background of a somewhat sketchy version of Happy Birthday played by the house band.

The following day we moved onto Alleppey (the setting for the book "God of Small Things") and hired a house-boat to cruise the famous Keralan backwaters. This was another great Indian experience. The backwaters are a massive network of lakes and waterways supporting villages on narrow fingers of land. We sat back and relaxed, watching the fishing, washing and canoeing of daily life as our hosts whipped up some fine Keralan cuisine. Whilst the day was very relaxing, the night's sleep was little inhibited by the snoring chef and the sauna like atmosphere of the non-a/c cabin.

Humidity aside, Kerala is a beautiful place to finish out tour of India, and it goes some way to justify it's claim to be "God's own country"

Caroline and Mark
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