Your ‘wife’ likes my Ferrari! (mate, it’s nice… but this is an auto rickshaw)
Kerala is known for its stunning backwaters, myriad network of canals, Ayurvedic massage treatments and eclectic locals. One of the greenest areas in the world, the scenery in Kerala epitomizes the southern palm tree laden Indian landscape.
We found Kerala to be an excellent starting point for a first time traveller to India – be prepared for the friendly local approaching you in the street, the challenging scents of India wafting through your nostrils and the full on sensory experiences that make Kerala an amazing place to visit.
HOW WE GOT AROUND
If you’re on this blog, chances are you have heard about India’s famous/infamous train network… and most of the stories you would have heard are true. Open air carriages rattling and gently swaying through the Indian countryside, riddled with friendly and inquisitive locals and interspersed with train toilet experiences to make even the most hardened traveller question the solidity of their inner fortitude.
On our second day in India, we rocked up to the Trivandrum Central Railway Station with the rough aim of heading north. A few language barriers, platform and carriage guesses later (everything was written in Hindi) and we were successfully aboard our first Indian train experience.
It is a relatively cheap and eye opening experience to catch a train through India and whilst our ride only went for 5 hours, if you want to travel a longer haul, this is definitely an experience we would recommend.
Another great and cheap way to get around is the autos. There are literally millions of them in India. Some have meters… and some don’t. As usual in Asia, make sure you agree on the price before you get in the auto. Riding the streets of Kerala in an auto is an experience all in itself – enjoy the horns!
WHAT WE DID
One of the highlights of our time in Kerala was a backwater cruise through the absolutely stunning yet gloriously peaceful canals. We organized this through one of the many agents on Princess St in Fort Kochi the day before. It costs $13USD per person and includes a canoe trip in the morning, followed by an authentic thali lunch and a houseboat cruise in the afternoon.
(Kerala’s sleepy backwaters)
In Fort Kochi, we watched the local fisherman doing their thing with the Chinese fishing nets. These are some crazy contraptions, almost 1000 years old, requiring six blokes and a rock pulley system. The photos below don’t do them justice!
Other things you can do in Kerala include visiting a spice plantation and tasting the fresh spices right off the trees, going to Kovalam beach or staying in a nature hut for a couple of nights, deep in the Indian jungle.
(the “world’s tallest coconut tree” in a spice plantation in Kerala)
- Perfect your head wobble. This awesome side-to-side shake of the head may initially be interpreted by westerners as a ‘no’… but it really means ‘yes’! You’ll know what we mean before you leave the airport.
- Immerse yourself in the world of Indian bartering. Be friendly but be firm.
- When it comes to dress, especially as a woman, whilst Kerala is more culturally tolerant than many other parts in India, we would still recommend dressing in light, loose fitting clothes that reasonably cover the body. It will cut out the sun and maybe even some of the infamous Indian stares.
- On many occasions we had people come up to us in the street just wanting to have a chat to the weird looking foreigners; ‘and what is your country good sir?’, ‘where do you come from ma’am?’, ‘and what is your good name?’, ‘do you like my country?’ – we met some very friendly locals in Kerala.
CAPTURED ON THE STREET
PS. Are you thinking of going to Kerala? Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below.
Have you been to Kerala? We would love to hear your travel stories also!