26. January 2016 – 12:49
Private student trip in January
Landed in Cochin! This time at the airport the immigration was very fast. How pleasant!
I just caught the public bus to Fort Kochi! India can be as simple as this: a direct bus from the airport to the tourist Island of Fort Kochi for only 80 rupees (about 1 €).
I was so happy on the two-hour drive and enjoyed looking out the windows: women walking in the sun with umbrellas, palm trees as far as the eye can see, and people talking across the entire bus! Yes, I was back in Kerala!
I meet Lea at the train station and we drive together in the rickshaw to our guesthouse. A fabulous breakfast is waiting for us here: homemade dosa (hearty rice pan cakes filled with potatoes, Idli (steamed rice balls), Kokosnus Cutney, a melon milkshake, mini bananas and chai! And everything is so much better than in the restaurant of course!
A 26 km long bike tour takes us to Cherai beach. Due to the heat, it is quite tiring, but the beautiful beach and a bath in the sea make up for this again! We can even see dolphins emerging in arches from the sea.
A Lassi and a burger as a refreshment at the beach restaurant, then retour.
The day ends with fresh scampis and India’s best pizza. Not exactly Indian, but the next few days will bring it anyway!
A morning yoga class got me going and the delicious keralan breakfast of course also contributed to this!
Then we went from Cochin to the backwaters. After less than an hour’s drive we reached our accommodation and we feel immediately comfortable here! We have a small own cottage with outdoor bathroom and a terrace with a direct view of the canal! How beautiful! Shortly after our arrival we take a small guided canoe tour. Our boatman pushes us through the small canals of the backwaters, we see cormorants and sea eagles, watch an older man fishing and drive along Chinese fishing nets!
Then there is a delicious lunch. The Spanish couple are nice table partners and we enjoy our meal. Short lunch break and then we dare to go on the water on our own: We climb into a shaky canoe and paddle to the nearby fruit stand, which is actually only three minutes away. Well, we struggle on the water, crisscrossing and take almost half an hour to arrive. Luckily, the ride back was with the current, so that we just let ourselves drift and arrived after only five minutes!
We enjoy the best pineapple from our terrace and could even motivate ourselves for yoga once again: with the best view of palm trees and water.
A delicious dinner was the crowning of our backwater day. Living in the Homestays is worth it just for meals! Bananas and beetroot curry, rice, poori (fried breads) and a chicken dish! Delicious!
Today we had a wonderful day in the backwaters with even pleasant temperatures! While we were still sweating during the morning yoga on our Super Terrace, clouds came up and a pleasant breeze blew!
After breakfast we moved to our houseboat. Really a small cozy boat with kitchen, bathroom, a small bedroom and large seating! Everything very pleasant and with our two boatmen with us, we felt very comfortable. The strong men stalked the thousand-kilo boat through the quiet and idyllic canals. Every now and then fishermen came to meet us on their canoes or we drove past small houses with waving children and women who washed the dishes.
Eventually the canal ended and only a few steps separated us from the open Arabian Sea. Here there were only us, a handful of fishermen, beach, palm trees and sea! Great! While one boatman was already preparing our lunch, the other led us to the beach and gave us security. We swam in the sea and enjoyed our bath. We even saw a dolphin jumping elegantly out of the water! Wow! Back on the houseboat, a lavish meal consisting of fried fish, two vegetable dishes and a lentil dish with chapatis (bread), rice and salad awaited us! Gorgeous. For a while we just drifted on the water, then we went back towards the farm house through fish farms. We even tried tto move the boat ourselves! Here the water level is four meters and it is not so easy to lift the long bamboo stick out and back into the water!
Around five o’clock we reached back to the farm and took a short walk through the village, where we had many nice encounters with the sweetest Indian children ever!
Then we went back to our floating island, where we already felt at home! The pleasant breeze on the water does well and it is nice to be surrounded by water from all directions!
In the silence of the backwaters we ended the day quietly (and of course with another delicious meal)!
This journey develops into a yoga trip: another morning yoga class! After breakfast on the houseboat we drove up to Munnar, five hours away. We took coconut and pineapple breaks and so time passed very quickly until we finally reached the tea-dominated hilly environment of Munnar! What a view.
In the interesting tea museum we decided to drink much more green tea, which seems to be good for everything!
In the afternoon we strolled through Munnar’s market, saw exotic fruits, notices the strong smell of dried fish, bought cashew nuts and visited a Hindu temple!
Lea crowned the day by even attending the impressive traditional martial arts show Kareli and was thrilled with the artists of the fighters!
Our trek started at 7:00 in the morning, so the temperatures were still very pleasant as we hiked through the green tea plantations higher and higher. Our guide had a lot to say about the tea and so we didn’t notice how the first two hours went by. We left the tea plantations and walked through grassland to a ridge with magnificent views towards all sides. We ate breakfast here. After a pleasant break we went downhill, first again through grassland, but then also through all sorts of spices and exotic plants: from pepper and vanilia, to cocoa and coffee beans, to ginger, chillies and ceshew nuts, everything was there!
We enjoyed the hike, but were happy when we reached our destination around 4 pm, where a delicious hot meal was waiting for us!
You couldn’t have spent the day around Munnar better: nice acquaintance, lots of exercise, great views and a lot of tea and spices!
First yoga, then a four-hour drive through Kerala’s spice plantations from Munnar to Thekkadey with a stop for a guided tour at a spice garden. The old acquired knowledge of yesterday was refreshed and a lot of new information was added! Hopefully we remember everything!
After a delicious lunch (in a simple keralan restaurant we got a complete rice meal with about 8 different curries for nothing more than 1 Euro!!!) we strolled through the spice town of Thekkadey and also bought one or the other scarf, sipped fresh coconut and ate pineapple! Right now is harvest time and pineapple tastes so good that we eat a whole fruit every day!
We relaxed on our balcony until it was time for the cooking class!
In a small international group, we spent a fun evening and learned not only four different vegetarian dishes, but also the preparation of a fish curry, parothas (the best bread in India) and grilled chicken! Hopefully we remember everything! Of course we were allowed to taste our dishes together during a fun dinner!
We can be quite proud of ourselves: tired and exhausted, but also satisfied, we just came back from another trek in the afternoon! This time we hiked all day through the Periyar Tiger Nature Reserve!
Unfortunately we did not see elephants and tigers, but impressive bisons, Sambhar dear, monkeys and the state bird Keralas: the Hornbill bird! Very impressive!
We enjoyed the magnificent views and the green forest that reminded us so much of Mogli and his Jungle Book!
Finally another morning with yoga! Our hostess shows us the preparation of Appam (white rice flats) and a vegetable curry that we ate for breakfast! Again much better than in the restaurant!
A four-hour drive through pineapple and rubber tree plantations takes us to Marari, where our friendly hosts Robin and Jansy are waiting for us! We visited the beach to get a delicious lunch served!
Then it was time to say goodbye! For me it was going back to Germany today, while Lea will enjoy a few more beach days! The lucky one!
It was nice and I am very grateful for the encounter with Lea, which has developed into a good friendship! Dear Lea, you are always welcome as our guest in Manali! I hope we don’t lose sight of each other!!
Read about Lea`s Internship in a hospital in rural India here.