May 30, 2005
! Then spent 2 days on Varkala beach but sorry to report that our hotel had a pool, so another two days of nothing but swimming, reading, eating and watching star movies which was a luxury! Headed on to Tamil Nadu and went to the famous Sri Meenakshi temple in Madurai which is a beautiful temple complex complete with temple elephants, lots of people and some amazing structures, although having to hand in your flip flops and walk along the very hot and dirty pavements was less fun! Then headed to the French colonial town of Pondicherry which is a very pretty town with a seafront promenade, loads of colonial buildings and a very sleepy feel. It was however the hottest I think we have had in India, about 35oC. Finally ended our time in Southern India with a visit to Mamallapuram to see the rock carvings and temples which were amazing and also sample yet again some very cheap seafood and laze by the pool! Off to Kolkata (Calcutta) for a quick half day visit then an overnight train up to Darjeeling which is apparently 15oC during the day and 0oC at night which will be a shock to the system!
Having spent another lovely lazy day in the colonial town of Cochin, being ferried around by Tuk Tuk for 80 pence each and having a massage for 2.50 pounds, we headed to Allepe to take a tour of the Kerala backwaters. We had our own private house boat for four (me, Gareth, Jade and Helen)which was great! It had a lovely area for chilling, two rooms with private bathroom and 3 staff to cook and drive the boat. Spent a very lazy afternoon cruising down the backwaters which were wide, palm fringed canals, opening out in to a large lake, surrounded by villagers fishing and waving! It was just gorgeous and very relaxing. It was also Easter Sunday so there were lots of boats with drunk indian men dancing and waving at us - highly amusing! Stopped off to buy some tiger prawns for dinner - very cheap and these things were more like monsters from the abyss with very long claws but they tasted great! Sunset was amazing but unfortunately the dark brought out all manner of insects and had a very hot and itchy night but well worth it