27. Falling in love with Kerala. Aleppey-Munnar-Kodaikanal

Aleppey was a capital of backwaters, the land of lagoons, canals and pure natural beauty that I’ve always wanted to see. Getting there at 4 am half dead after a terrible night (no beds this time) wasn’t maybe the best start but we were still fully ready to explore the area. Soon we realized the town is really boring so we decided to see backwaters from the inside. We shared a boat with an elderly Indian couple and two Russian girls who surprisingly spoke English. After 5 minutes of listening to an Indian gentelman, who obstinately wanted to show us how much knowledge he had, I escaped to the roof enjoying the views alone. I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery that was absolutely gorgeous. The canals, surrounded by palm trees, tiny houses and fishermen by the shore made me feel I was in a different world. The giant prawns that we’ve seen in one of the local restaurants convinced me to buy a boat and stay there forever.

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Beautiful backwaters in Aleppey

As motorbike is the best way of visiting the area we wandered for few hours between the villages and rice fields ending the day on one of the remote beaches with a group of kids who played with whatever they had. The scene reminded me my childhood when every day was a new adventure and all the kids played outside. Possible now? I don’t think so… The main beach in Aleppey wasn’t too bad either, even though quite dirty, at least it wasn’t crowded so we spent the next morning relaxing and conquering the waves of Indian Ocean. Although the place was beautiful we were quite happy to leave as our guest house smelled like one mouldy sock and giant cockroaches that occupied our room weren’t our dreams’ fulfillment.

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One of the hidden beaches of Kerala

“Wow” was the only thing I could say when we entered Munnar. Another pearl of Kerala I wasn’t aware of. And there it was, covered with green tea plantations place which became my favourite. A bit expensive though, we managed to find a lodge for Rs 500 while most of them cost around 1000. Trying to find out what to see in Munnar we asked in the Tourist information where we were immediately told the only way to travel around is to book a tour. Yeah, right. A helpful rikshaw driver showed us a nice trail through Pothemadu and from there we started our all day trek through beautiful tea and spice plantations with a view of Western Ghats in the horizon. Surprisingly no one stoned us as we were warned, all the local people welcomed us really warmly. No more tourist informations. Following Klaudia’s idea we tried to climb a huge mountain from where we could see the sunset. And we probably would have succeeded if a top part wasn’t all covered with bush and trail didn’t dissapear in a sharp grass. Next time.

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Beautiful tea plantations in Munnar

Indian government complicates lots of things in this country. For example bikes. Almost impossible to get we got a bike after 10 phone calls and finding out that the government allows only one rental company in order not to take the business from rikshaw drivers who occupy every street of Munnar. Lucky to have one we spent the whole day visiting the places around the Top Station. By Kundala lake we met some well dressed Indian tourists enjoying every possible attraction and taking as many pictures as possible. Typical Indians. Stopping in a local restaurant I tried to learn how to eat rice with hands but I realized it’s hard to overcome an European nature that stops you from building sandcastles on your plate. I think I’ll stick to spoon & fork.

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View of Western Ghats from the Top Station

Even though I could stay there forever, the next day we left to Kodaikanal that people call “A mushroom place”. Sharing a car with two Israeli girls our intuition told us it wasn’t a good sign. Kodaikanal was actually pretty big town and… pretty boring. The Coaker’s Walk with a low visibility and the Kodai Lake surrounded by the fence didn’t look promising. Fortunately we met a Danish guy we’ve met in Wonderland so we spent the afternoon with him smoking and recalling the Goa life. As we got a room with a TV (5 star!) we spent lots of time watching overdone science fiction movies so beloved by Indians. Next day we did a long walk to the Suicide Point (good luck with a spiked fence) and Pillar Rocks from where we decided to go to Vattakanal and spend there 2 nights. A place recommended by Israelis and, of course, full of Israelis. Our aversion to this nation that started in Nepal made us stay outside of the village where you could literally hear only hebrew.

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Hilly Kodaikanal city

Our old friend Sanman recommended one place by the waterfall, an inland version of Wonderland, much poorer though. David who ran this place for 30 years left to Kodaikanal due to health issues (too many mushrooms?) and a 26-years old guy who replaced him didn’t have an idea how to run such place. Although with a huge potential, it was dirty, not maintained and Nevin basically didn’t give a shit about his guests. This place was really relaxing though so we spent two days enjoying the nature and chatting with two nice Indians and a French girl by the fire. As most of the Israelis concentrated in Altaf cafe we decided to try their food. And everything would be perfect if we didn’t have to wait for 2 hours for falafel because the waiters were in a different universe. Although willing to try a local speciality, we were told it wasn’t the best season for mushrooms so we decided not to waste money. We entertained ourselves by running downhill to Dolphin’s Nose where we could admire the views of surrounding mountains. Although beautiful, Vattakanal wasn’t what we expected but as someone said, the age of prosperity of hippie places died with the hippies of the 70’s.

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Our place in Vattakanal
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