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Monday, 22 March 2010

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India - Page 4

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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When we arrived at Thiruvananthapuram’s (also known as Trivandrum) airport near the southern tip of India our driver, Arun, was magically waiting for us even though we’d given him the wrong arrival time and flight number. Arun works for SITA and was very personable, spoke English well, and was the source of great conversation throughout the trip. I told him we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing in town before heading out to Varkala beach, so we stopped to look at Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple (non-Hindu’s cannot go inside) and then explored the city palace museum which had some beautiful ivory pieces including a basinet made entirely out of ivory, some nice paintings, and a large throne-like chair adorned with huge crystals from Slovakia.

We were very relaxed, but when we went into the bedroom and turned the lights on and saw three large roaches scamper away, we got very nervous. I was hoping they’d stay away with the lights on, but suddenly a big one rushed by and I screamed. The guys came running and after explaining through gestures, it was clear by their response that they must have dealt with similar situations before. The chef hunched down near the bed and caught the bug between his fingers as it ran past, then took it to the side of the boat and threw it over. What a difference between my reaction and his! Anyways, we kept the lights and AC on all night, but got almost no sleep. If you’re intimidated by roaches you could always go on a day cruise, but I wouldn’t skip the experience all together as this was one of the highlights of our trip despite the infestation.

 

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Bolton

The crew was up at the break of dawn and we got moving right away. I was surprised by how much was going on so early in the morning. As we headed towards the largest lake in Kerala, Vembanad Lake, all the fishermen were already out there trying to catch shrimp using their long poles with little traps on the end (they lure them in with pieces of coconut). It is a slow process and each one doesn’t catch many.

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Bolton

We were served the best fresh squeezed pineapple juice you can imagine and a delicious south Indian breakfast of idli (steamed rice dumplings), sambar (spicy soup), and coconut chutney. Normally tourists are served eggs and toast, but we requested Indian food instead. We arrived right at the dock of our resort in Kumarakom in late morning and said goodbye to the crew.

 

Kumarakom

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonWe were welcomed at Cocobay Resort with flower leis, fresh juice and cool towels. The resort was beautiful and spotlessly clean. We were given a room overlooking the lake and were relieved that we would be getting a good nights sleep. We started with a swim in the pool and a short nap before exploring the area. In order to get to the parking lot you take a small boat pushed by a long bamboo stick down the narrow canal – it is very relaxing and pretty. It was reminiscent of Venice minus the palm trees, tropical flowers and people bathing in the canals. We met our driver and headed over to the bird sanctuary. On a path through the dense vegetation we heard many bird calls, but didn’t actually see too many birds, probably because of our timing – we went around 4 p.m. and should have gone at dusk or early in the morning.

We had dinner at our hotel and it was great – we had king prawns roasted in the tandoor oven and a curried okra dish with naan (bread) and vegetable pullao (rice pilaf). We turned in early and slept well.

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonBefore breakfast we took another dip in the pool which smelled pleasantly of coconuts and then went to the buffet. We chose the dosas (lentil crepes) with sambar and a potato curry. When we were ready to check out the gracious staff gathered our luggage and put it on the boat for our last trip up the canal.

 

(Page 4 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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