Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Kerala is Awesome to Visit.

So the G family recently invaded Kerala for a visit. Overall, it was a nice trip. The people were for the most part friendly and polite. Here are the highlights:

1. Taking a non-night train is a long and tedious option - especially with kids. 12 hours type long. in one seat. The scenery was fabulous, but how long can you really watch scenery? That being said, it was a novelty and the kids liked the vendors being around all the time.
2. Cochin/Fort Kochi was fun to visit. I ironically got to appreciate some Dutch heritage and I'm a culture/history junkie. Our hotel was in a great location for wandering around. The architecture was very interesting to see.
The View Behind our Hotel

Crazy Mix of the Old, The New, and the Tragically Dirty Beach

Holla Dutch Folks!

3. Munnar was great. It doesn't have the same feel as the rest of India but the cooler weather and amazing views were much appreciated, especially after being in Fort Kochi.
Lots of waterfalls to be found.

The view from our hotel room back porch

From outside.

They had frikkin Emus. It was awesome.

This right here is just not right. I heard Gasolina in Kerala more than I have anywhere else. And not just in Munnar.

4. There's not much in Thekkady, but we did see a martial arts show that was very cool to watch. Do see one when you go to Kerala. Unless you plan to go on a big, expensive safari, there is absolutely no wildlife in the preserve. Even then, I have my doubts.

This is a squirrel, people. It was the size of an opossum.

Funniest thing ever - this monkey stole that bottle out of someone's hand, opened it, and drank it, relaxed as anything.

Seriously big spider.

5. Alleppy was absolutely one of the coolest places I have ever been. We stayed in a hotel so far out in the middle of no where that the road was barely big enough for one car. With a compound on one side and a canal on the other, it was a bit nerve wracking, but it was so quiet and peaceful, we loved it.

One of the infamous houseboats

6. Flying back was the best decision ever.
7. Unless you hate it, eat fish. Keralans know fish, especially in the backwaters.
8. Unless you LOVE elephants, try to stay away from the elephant traps. They're a bit sad.

The not so great:
1. Kerala is hot and humid - even in the middle of winter (unless you are up in the mountains). The hotels in Fort Kochi will have air, (if you take an AC room and it's not during a power cut) but no where else will. Open air dining is pretty much the only option here.
2. The mosquitoes have orgies every 2.3 seconds. Even inside during the day, the mosquitoes are completely out of control. Bring bug spray. And long sleeves/pants.
3. Don't plan to be unique if you're white in Fort Kochi. You cannot swing a chopstick there without hitting 4 different white people. Not only will you not be unique, you will be seen as a sales target and Keralans in tourist areas are a bit more pushy than in other places in India. They post signs about no pressure sales inside, but harass you outside.
4. Most of the handcrafts/art you will see will be generic Indian kitch and not Keralan art. Unfortunately, even in the areas that don't cater to white people.
5. Kerala is not so much an activity place as a relax and enjoy the scenery place. You may or may not enjoy this.
6. The possibility of Big Spiders - Very Big Spiders. I saw many with very large webs along the road in Munnar. Hand sized spiders people.