We'd intended Sri Lanka to be a gentle warm up before the craziness that was to be India. On arrival into Kochi though we wondered what all the fuss was about. The place was super laid back with the only distraction being the large number of fellow tourists as they made their way to and from the seafront. Had we caught India on a quiet day or had we missed something? As it turned out aside from the big cities the whole of South India was relaxed compared to its northern sibling.
This was nowhere more pronounced than Thuravoor and the back waters where time seemed to stop. We'd chosen the area over Allepey the more popular destination and we were so pleased with our decision. Apparently there are over 1000 boats there as opposed to the 2 where we stayed. We spent an amazing 3 days 1 on which was spent on a sustainable boat. We were punted up the river like a King and Queen free to take in the local wildlife and sample the local toddy. The Kingfishers were in abundance as we meandered down the narrow waterways. We had the river to ourselves and as we settled down to a night on the boat, gently being rocked to sleep, it was a unique and magical experience.
Palm Wine or Toddy as it's commonly known is a drink formed from the sap of coconut trees. The drink is harvested first thing in the morning and sold for a handful of rupee's at numerous Toddy Shops. We got to sample some early in the day while it's at its most drinkable. It's alcohol levels increase as it ferments, even after a couple of hours the taste had totally changed. By the looks of some of the locals in the shops theirs had fermented quite a lot. You have to wonder how this effects local communities with a constant supply of cheap booze on offer.
Our next destination was Varkala, a small tourist led settlement high up on the cliffs. A series of indenti-kit restaurants offered mouth watering tandoori fish caught from the sea opposite. The place was aimed at tourists but this meant a higher standard of food and the chance to actually buy beer! Alcohol is frowned upon across most of India and a liquor license is very hard to come by. Aside from the toddy shops off licenses are rare so unless your in the touristy areas things can be a little dry. We didn't go crazy though, in fact we spent most of our time there doing Yoga.
Shivanandra Yoga takes the form of extreme poses or asanas with constant breaks for relaxation in between. The breaks were much needed as the poses got more and more complex. We ended up doing three hours of Yoga each day. Between double leg raises, head stands and full wheel pose we were both in the shape of our lives / totally knackered! It was a good reminder though about how much we loved doing Yoga. It's the perfect mix of physical exercise and mental relaxation. With our minds and body as one we boarded the train to Kanyakumari. A four hour train ride for 25 rupees or 25p seemed like a good deal to us!