Arriving in Kerala, hot, sticky and tired our top priorities were toliet and food! We found this super cool Indian Coffee House just up the street from the station. It reminded me of a multiystorey swirly car park. I don't know how the waiters managed to carry so much up and down the steep walk way! We managed to find a seat and enjoyed dosas and juice for breakfast.
We took a bus to Kollam and stayed in a nice little hotel. After wandering around the streets we were begining to wander why so many people raved about it. There wasn't heaps to do in the evening, so we brought a DVD but couldn't find anywhere to buy a disc drive for Elly's pc so went back to the hotel to chill before dinner. There was the our next 'problem'. There had been a powercut so no lights e.t.c. for us...or so we thought. It was after several hours of sitting laughing and singing in the dim dust evening light that we decided to try the switches outside since the ones inside deffinalty weren't working.
A little tip for you, when in India most places have power switches for the room on the outside so so if you forget or choose to leave then fan/lights on they can be turned off from the outside which totally makes sense energy wise. But not when you don't realise and it turns out the wierd looks you were getting from everybody else on the corridor was not only because of your very loud singing but because the power had been on for hours!!! :D It was a very funny night. Dinner downstairs in the awesome cafe/bakery-very very tasty! :D
Next day...Now I see why everyone loves Kollam! Down by the water it is absolutly beautiful!! We decided to take a canoe trip on the back waters. We got picked up and drove to an island of only a few hundred inhabitants with only one cafe. We hopped in our canoe-the three of us, our guide and the boat man. The world seemed so still and peaceful and we glided along in our boat made of coconut trees. We stopped along the way to visit fruit farms, boat workshops and to have chai at the cafe. It was perfect...although we were sweating like crazy people!
We passed rice fields and farms that had buffalo that were so fat! There was a women wading through the water collecting muscels and a man riding his canoe full of grass type veggies. All of this whilst our guide and boat man sang away in beautiful Keralan songs.
After our boat trip it was time to move onto to a new town. With snacks from the bakery and some very smelly chicken from the night before which was going nowhere near my mouth! I just couldn't find a bin! We boarded a bus to Varkala, a town right on the coast which promised sun sea and sand...Well 2 out of 3s not bad!
And no it wasn't the sun that was missing! We arrived and after lunch decided to stay in a palace. Well it was the ol palace grounds and it was totally beautiful even if a little worn in places. The room was huge with high ceilings, giagantic bathroom and massive bed! Breakfast was included for the grand total off 300rs per night for the 3 of us (that equals about 2.50 pounds ish!!! Bargin!! :D
We walked up to the cliff top and got something to eat. It had a lovely atmosphere and there were loads of people around. The next day we spent our morning chilling in a cafe on the cliff top reading until the waiter arrived with a huge grin on his face saying"Breaking news, there's going to be a tsunami here in about half an hour!!!' We weren't sure whether to belive him or not but sure enough, on the tv the headlines were racing in. At first we weren't sure how serious it was so I was a little concerned however after a while scientists decided that because Kerala is at the tip of India we should be ok. And we were, although it made for a great afternooons entertainment! Spirts were suprisingly high considering there had been Earthquakes all over South East Asia and some places, us included on high alert. People lined up on the cliff top to watch the waves and yes, they did go quite a way out!
I remeber being so impressed with the police. As soon as the warning was issued the beach was cleared completly within minutes. Great from a safety perspective but pants from a sun bathing one! No Sand for us!! Indtead we chilled with the cafe staff all afternoon and played with the puppies that had just been born there.
Once the excitment died down we walked along the cliff top, always only about 50m from the sea (and much higher up!) so it was lucky nothing happened else i'm not convinced that we would have been all that safe! Anyway we found some great shops and haggled our way to some great bargins. We also found a bargin bin. Elly went to town, and in fairness she found some great buys! Back at our favourite cafe we had dinner before heading back to the palace tired and full of excitment!
Next morning it was time to leave Varkala and catch the train back to Thrivananthapuram to head back up to Bangalore and then onto Aurangabad. But as with us three fabulous muskatiers nothing is ever without event!! We got to the station no problem, brought the cheapest ticket with warning from the ticket man. "Are you sure you want this class, it's so crowded you can't move and if you get on the wrong carrige you will be charged!" That's fine we replied, the train was only a 40minute journey, unreseved class no problem...Well sort of. The train arrived and was much longer than we expected, it took us a while to realise that like all the Indian people we too should be running towards the end of the train. Worried it would start we hoped on a carrige nearer to us and walked through the middle. Not successful. The carriges weren't connected in the middle! So stuck in some fancy class back onto the platform we got and ran down toward the cheap end!! The girls got on the wrong carridge at the same time i got on the next one down-i think it was unreseved. The train had started to move and I turned around to talk to the girls but they weren't there. Nevermind nothing we could do about it so I settled down to a hassle free journey with no ticket on me. Elly and Liv however didn't fair so lucky. Their car was crowded and smelly-pants! But we made it to the station and then went to find the bus. It was at this point that the heavens opened!!! Honestly talk about pre-monsoon rain. There was thunder as loud as that time I was in Mexico (loudest thunder ever!!!) It rained so much in the few minutes it took us to move our stuff out of the rain we were soaked to the skin and our bags were wet through. It was so funny and Elly did her singing in the rain audition in actual rain!!! On the bus the driver refushed to put our bags underneath-he didn't want to get wet so told us just to put them by our seats! No chance mate!! In the ailses they went, and there they stayed. We eventually dried off and arrived in Bangalore the next day. We only had a few hours before a next bus onto Aurangabad and there was no way we were gonna be late for that one! We spent the morning in Cafe Coffee Days and then shopping. It was really fun and we enjoyed a but of western culture and air-con!!! After ordering some t-shirts from the coffee shop they arrived Indian time! Like an hour or so after we'd asked and after many angry convosations with the managerhe knew we had a bus to catch! Anyway all well ends well. We got the t-shirts and got on the bus in time. Thanks to our awesome rickshaw driver so took some pretty daring risks to get us there on time! We were of course super early!! :D Onto Aurangabad, 22hours on a coach. These tickets cost more than we would have liked but we certainly got our moneys worth!! Free water, freezing air-con and warm fluffy blankets deffinatly made the money worthwhile. They even had movies for us to watch. Yay for bollywood!! Most were subtitled and still no toliet but regular stops with nice toliets were much aprreciated!
The bus journey was fun and super compfy! One thing we did notice though was the huge height difference between Indian's of the North and South. There was a fold down tv half way up the bus and when we all got on in Bangalore everyone fit underneath it no problem. By the time we were back in Marharstra (state that Mumbai and Pune are in) as people boarded the bus they more often than not hit their heads on the telly. It was really funny and also very intersting!