Kerala: Garden of spices

Cultural.Leisurely.Spices

We hadn’t planned on going to Kerala when we first decided to travel to India, but with numerous people we had met along our way telling us we had to make it part of our itinerary we thought we should go and see what all the fuss was about. When we arrived in the early morning we made our way to Fort Kochi intending to spend a few days here before moving on. We stayed in a nice home stay where we would spend more time than planned. In need of some food after our long journey we had a walk of the area looking for somewhere to eat, it didn’t take us long to become acquainted with our new surroundings. There really isn’t much to do in Fort Kochi unless you’re a fisherman. Chris led me on a delightful walk around the docks where all the fish are brought in off the boats, a treat for all the senses! After this we had a walk round the markets, which we found consisted of more fish and all the clothes stalls we had seen many times before. Of course being in India all the locals try to get us to buy their stuff, this was the case even for the fish market.

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After a nap in the afternoon to recuperate after all our travelling over the past few days we set out for the evening to the local theatre to watch a traditional Kerala show. This consists of men in extravagant facial paint and bizzare expressions performing a story through dance. Like a lot of other things we have done in India, whilst not entirely enjoyable it was worth going for the experience! However before the main act there was a lady dancing by herself which i particularly liked and afterward a martial arts performance which Chris particularly liked. The following day we went on a trip around Kerala’s famous backwaters.

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The first half of the day was spent on a long, thin and shallow boat operated by a man with a large piece of bamboo. We went down the smaller parts of the backwaters which are surrounded by trees. It felt like the middle of the jungle. We stopped part way and departed the boat to look around a garden of spices. We saw cinnamon trees, nutmeg trees, peppercorn vines, clove plants, aubergine plants, banana trees, lemon trees etc etc. Half of which I’d never seen grown before and had no idea how the spices grew, it was very interesting. Chris’ favourite part was tasting the bark of the cinnamon tree. For lunch we took a bigger boat to an island across a lake where a feast of Indian thali had been made, in case we haven’t mentioned already or to those unfamiliar- Thali is a range of dishes served with rice, you usually get a vegetable dish, a lentil dish and a type of pickle but this varies on where you eat. Dessert was the best part of the meal, Indian rice pudding! Like the English kind only made with noodle and a lot more sugar. Chris had three servings! After lunch we boarded a ‘house boat’ which was a larger boat with a wicker structure and large wicker chairs. We rode around the river for two hours, me and Chris chose to spend our time reading, others had a little nap but the French guy sat in front decided to spend his time clipping his finger nails. As you do when in the company of strangers.

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That night we took a ferry across the water to the town of Ernakulam and had a long walk down the water front. Unlike the waterfront we know and love in Liverpool there was little there apart from the boats and we only found one place to stop and eat. This place clearly prided itself on fish curry but me and Chris avoided this, perhaps foolishly and got the chicken option and the duck option. That night and the next day we were both suffering from what I assume was food poisoning as we didn’t move from our room all day because we were that sick. We had big plans to spend all day in India’s no.1 waterpark that day too. You may have noticed a common theme that India makes us both ill. The following day we were still a little fragile so stayed in the local area, we had planned to move to a different part of Kerala by now but there was no point in moving as we left the following day. The next day we had one of those days where you are just waiting around as we had an overnight train to get. It rained heavy and we couldn’t do much walking around so we relaxed in cafes instead. I got some henna, did some reading and ate some Italian food. The time came for our ferry across the water where we would get our train from.

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It is a common thing for the rickshaw drivers to refuse to put the meter on for us for the taxi ride and instead try to charge us a fixed rate which is up to four times what the price should be. As the time has come to leave India we have wised up to this and if the meter is refused then we refuse to take that taxi. It still seems stupid that this same taxi driver will take an Indian person and put the meter on, a fare is a fare. Most rickshaw drivers don’t want to take us unless we pay more than we should. This was the case for our taxi ride to the train station in Kerala. The train journey to Chennai, our last of our time in India was slightly different to the other journeys we had made as it was our first sleeper class experience. We had been warned not to take sleeper class but we were left with no choice as it was all that was available as we had only booked one week in advance. At first we were slightly worried that there was 13 people in the space of 8 beds but we each got a bed and made it to Chennai the same as we had on all our other train journeys across India.

On first impressions, Chennai smelled, there was a great deal of poverty and it was a dirty place. In terms of sights there isn’t a great deal to see in Chennai but we both had fun walking around the huge shops around T Nagar with whole floors dedicated to silk Sari’s. We both did some last minute clothes shopping here while having fun joking with fellow customers and staff who thought we were a bit ridiculous. All the places to eat that were recommended by lonely planet had shut down so we decided to go to the mall in search of something familiar to eat. The time had come to make our way to the airport as we’d exhausted Chennai, we got aboard a rickshaw who told us the airport was 30km away and he would give us a very good price of 600 rupees, wisely we refused and got a metered rickshaw which took us to the airport over 15km for the price of 200 rupees. We learned so much! The airport was brand new and modern so waiting around here wasn’t so bad. As we checked in we found out that AirAsia don’t include baggage allowance in their prices and it would be 20 pounds per 20kg, so being the ‘poor travellers’ that we are we managed to fit 10kg into our hand luggage so that combined our baggage weighed 20.4kg- take that AirAsia! Although we were wearing our coats, boots and two very small but very full rucksacks!

The time had come for our five week Indian adventure to come to an end and so begin what we see as our second chapter or travelling, beginning with Bangkok!

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See photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/gp/127744759@N08/0103bM

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3 thoughts on “Kerala: Garden of spices

  1. This looks like an amazing place, good choice to add it to your stop-offs. The waterways look very peaceful, lovely photos too. I’m glad you’re turning into seasoned travellers now and getting wise to the locals attempts to overcharge you 🙂 Hope you’ve seen the last of the tummy troubles too!

    Love Mum
    x
    PS loving the new style blog 🙂

    Like

  2. Love the new look website very professional. Glad your having an awesome time, shame about the food poisoning but that is very you.
    Sounds like you’ve both became very seasoned adventurers. Keep having fun and stay safe.

    Like

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