Kerala is stunning. The train ride down was one of the most scenic experiences I've had so far in my short but full life. Palm trees line the Paddy fields were brightly coloured peasants farm the land and stop to wave as the train passes by. Cattle graze quietly in the lush meadows usually accompanied by a couple of white geese and the hot sun is cooled by a gentle breeze. Most of the time however I was sitting on my top berth watching my stuff and answering Binoy's texts to say that I was still in one piece, on the right train, not having any problems, hadn't eaten any food offered to me and still in possession of all my belongings.
When I arrived in Trissur Binoy met me with his Motorbike and we drove the 45 minutes to his home. The houses in that area are very beautiful and large with big gardens and fruit laden trees. Binoy's family lives in a beautifull quaint pink lilac house with a garden full of fruit trees. I had fresh bananas as well as guava and my first ever custard apple. Delicious!
Binoy and his family were incredibly friendly and made me feel very much at home. Every night his Mum would cook me food without spice unfortunately I couldn't eat much of it as I still had diarrhoea. My digestion hasn't been right for the last 2 months it's a part of traveling I've got used to.
Kerela is very beautiful but what made my visit especially good was that Binoy took me to see Tiripur in Tamil Nadu where a large portion of India's textile trade is centred. I got to experience a town where every second house is a factory and almost all the shops are selling western clothes, excess from the factories. After phoning around a bit Binoy was able to get in contact with a Lady who owned a Factory along with her husband. She said we were welcome to come and visit so off we went. After passing rows of big, small, fancy, run down factories with lots of Chinese business men hanging out outside we came to the one we were aiming for. It's a medium sized factory which mainly supplies children's clothes to Disney in Italy. We were invited into their posh office were we were served drinks and I got the chance to ask questions about the business. Sutha and her husband were both very friendly and willing to talk about their company and what they achieve. I even managed to get some of the questions answered like if the workers are trained? Do they get holidays? Do the women get maternity leave? What are their hours like? How is their pay? All the answers were pretty positive. She said it used to be that they would decide everything but now that the workers all have unions it's changed a lot. It's true that they only get paid about £1-2 a day but that's a fair wage here. It gave me a lot to think about. I also got to see the factory and she explained the process to me. I took some photos but unfortunately my camera XD card was broken since Rajasthan so I took them on my internal memory which means I can't upload them yet. Probably a good moment to say thank you to Cait and Sean for letting me borrow their cameras and/or photos. Today I was fortunate enough to find a guy who repaired it for me so I now have my own one again (except the batteries dead) Anyway I'm jumping ahead...
Due to Binoy'd great Uncle being very ill in hospital, he passed away a few days a go, I met Sean on the train and we carried on to Cochin instead of him joining me in Trisur. We only spent one night there but we got the opportunity to go on a 3 hour baot trip on Kerala's backwaters which was lovely. I will hopefully be able to load the photos soon.
I really enjoyed my time alone as I met a great family and got to see the thing I came here for but I'm deffinately not a lone traveller. I like companionship and it was really great to see Sean again. I hadn't had a hug for 5 days! That's pretty tough going for me. To make up for lost time we decided to book a 39 hour train journey together. It was surprisingly enjoyable as we spent 2 nights and 1 day onboard and the nights passed very quickly as the Indian train berths are more comfortable than many a hotel here. We played cards and tried to develope our new philosophy on life a wee bit further. Look forward to our upcoming book titled "Science - The new world religion?"
We changed trains in Kharagpur which is the station with the longest platform in the world. A whole 1.5km!!! Very exciting. We got on a very crowded local train for another 3 hours which took us to Kolkata where we are now.
Kolkata is quite different to what I expected. I haven't seen one slum and there are loads of Gardens. It's one of the cleanest big cities yet. There are a lot of road side market stalls and Sean and I have been having fun bargaining and buying rubbish at rubbish prices some of it's quite nice though:-)
It's now time for us to go and get another sleeper train to Darjeeling. Typically I sent all my warm clothes home when I headed south as I hadn't been planning to go north again. I was wanting to go to the Sunderbans Tiger reserve but it's just too expensive and Darjeeling and Sikkim are supposed to be stunning so we decided to head up there instead. Oh well I'll just have to buy lots more beautiful bright soft wooly shawls and jumpers!
This blog is written from 30°C the next one will be from 3°C - The wonders of this remarkable country!... xXx