Likes & Dislikes

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Kerala - backwaters - Elter photo

“It’s possible to take a houseboat through the ‘backwaters’ – a network of canals – as far as Kumarakom. Unfortunately, a combination of distance and poor organization turned a four-hour cruise into a shorter journey of an hour and a half: the boats have to ask for permission to be on the water during a specified period, and this cannot be altered. We were two and a half hours late setting off, and so our window of time on the water was reduced to an hour and a half. Still, it turned out that this was, in my opinion, just enough time to get a decent sense of what such a trip entails, and four hours would probably have been too much. On both sides of canal can be seen coconut palms, villas and shabby houses.

An alternative boat trip takes you across Perijar Lake, and this is more interesting. While we were waiting for our ship, resourceful monkeys tried to steal from us everything they could get their hands on – keeping our valuables safe from them was already a memorable experience! Then, if you’re lucky – and we were – you might see elephant families walking along the lake shore, as well as warthogs, wild deer and many species of bird. If you were extremely lucky you might even see one of the 15 tigers living in the park, but the chances of that are very slim.

The lake cruise lasts one hour, sitting in an open-topped boat, and as the locals point out, it is forbidden to stand up. If you don’t like this obligation to remain always seated then I wouldn’t recommend the cruise, but at the same time the scenery is very beautiful.

Another stop on our itinerary was a visit to a spice plantation. This lasted an hour and a half, and we learned a lot of interesting information about local working practices, and the cultivation of coffee, tea, banana trees (there were over thirty of these) as well as coconut palms, cinnamon, cocoa, turmeric, nutmeg, various black pepper varieties and much more. In the end, of course, there was an option to buy these products, but at three times the price in shops. 😊

In addition to these, there were a few more stops on our itinerary. One was a ‘combat demonstration’ – it was better than I expected, though I’d describe it as more of an acrobatic display conducted by five men over the course of an hour.

The next stop…. well, I don’t know. I would only recommend it to the truly dedicated. It was a ‘dance evening’, and consisted of two men, dressed in strange costumes and with their faces painted like masks, dancing while a third man played the drums and sang. This was all supposed to tell some kind of story or legend, but to the unaccustomed European eye it was all completely incomprehensible. For example: they demonstrated in advance the acting moves that we should recognize as they performed the story, such as rhythmic eye movement during three minutes of otherwise absolute immobility. Then the same, but with a slight movement of the nose, or mouth, or whatever. Almost none of the guests enjoyed it.

Our final stop involved a sightseeing tour of Kochi, but instead of showing us the city center, they took us to the little beach. It was a depressing sight. In my life I’ve never seen such a dirty, littered beach. Repulsive. The shops on the narrow streets had the atmosphere of a bazaar.
We visited a church, which was the first Christian church ever constructed in India. That was the highlight.” (Edith, 2018)



Practicals

Transport

In Kerala, luckily, you don’t have to negotiate tiringly with taxi drivers because they work at fixed rates. The situation is different if you want to use taxis for several hours because then you have to negotiate the total transportation price.

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The local driving culture is simply unbelievable: the fastest and most reckless is king, and there are no rules. Whoever beeps the horn has right of way, and the others can shift for themselves. An example: an improbably heavily laden bus is being overtaken by a motorized rickshaw. The rickshaw honks the horn at the bus, and we (in a Toyota SUV), honk in turn at the rickshaw, as we overtake him thanks to our greater speed and momentum. Meanwhile, an oncoming car is also being overtaken by a car, meaning that five separate vehicles have to squeeze past one another on a two-lane road, yet somehow it works. Scenes like this are repeated practically every minute, yet our driver isn’t in the least nervous. He doesn’t curse or think twice about the overtaking maneuver. Of course, this is all done in torrential rain, since we’re in the middle of the rainy season. To a European, it seems impossible that anyone could survive on these roads for long, but we drove around a thousand kilometers on the roads of Kerala, and never saw an accident.”

Kerala - motorbike jam -f.a. photo

Kerala - Munnar - public bus - p.m. photo

Kerala -Western Ghats

Kerala - Cherukara Railway station - p.m. photo

Accomodation


It is worth trying the so-called boutique hotels, which are small, cozy, no large-scale character. You can stay in the buildings of former colonial plantations, hotel eco-hotels, and you can even stay in boarding houses in the vicinity of locals.

Shopping

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Kerala - Cochin - Butcher's shop - b.e. photo

Fun

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Kerala - kathakali - traditional dance art

Public safety

By Indian standards, Kerala is a safe tourism destination. Of course, the general precautionary rules must be observed.

Kerala - Caution - Wild elephants

Health

Always have drinking water with you because tap water (although not dirty) is not drinkable. It is risky to drink drinks having ice cube.

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“Exotic and spicy, sure, but what about your digestive system? The prejudice is perfectly legitimate. Taking a few basic points into consideration, and acquiring some local knowledge and routine precautions, it’s possible to minimize the risk of an upset stomach. First of all, it’s best to eat in the places where a lot of locals eat, since at least there the food is likely to be fresh.

If it’s your first time in a particular restaurant, don’t order anything with meat, dairy, or eggs. Here’s one practical reason for the prevalence of vegetarianism in India – a bowl of rice seasoned with some spicy sauce is much less risky in an unfamiliar place than, say, scrambled eggs.

In most parts of India, it isn’t safe to drink the tap water, but there are many kinds of bottled water available, often chilled, and for just a few cents a liter. Some staples of home cooking can’t be bought in India, or at least aren’t widely available. Milk, for instance, can usually be found, but it’s worth finding out precisely where it comes from. It’s also worth abstaining from fresh fruit, at least until your immune system has grown accustomed to the challenge of India.

No matter how careful you are, diarrhea can always strike. I’ve recently come across what seems to me to be a miracle cure: it’s called bolus adstrigens, and it comes in a brown pill. It functions essentially as a gastric disinfectant and forms a protective layer on the walls of the intestine. In practice what happens is you take the pill, and it’s effective for around 12 hours. After that, you pass a healthy, normal stool, and if whatever you had wasn’t serious, you should be back to normal. I’ve ended up in a few uncomfortable situations, especially before I found this medicine.

A few of my fellow travelers went through something similar: first, their belches smelled of rotten eggs, then they threw up whatever they’d eaten. It seems that a hard block gets formed somewhere along the way, and the barely digested food pools above it, sometimes for a few days until the sufferer begins to notice that something isn’t right. Anyhow, since I found the brown tablets, I’ve had no problems.

If someone’s digestion goes wrong, the first thing to try is a strict diet: rice, potatoes, mineral water, bananas, and maybe cookies. If things haven’t gotten better by the time scheduled for departure to the next destination, take a brown pill, which will get anyone through a journey, even if it’s a 12-hour bus trip, getting you a few hundred kilometers further into the journey, and even saving you a night’s cost of accommodation.


Kerala - Vehicles thoroughly decorated by pigeons - (We sincerely apologize for showing you this assaultive photo) - b.e. photo

Others

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Kerala - beauty salon - Elter photo

Background

Destination in brief

Kerala is a federal state of India.

Population (in 2020): 34 million

Religion: 54% Hindu, 27% Muslim, 18% Christian

Kerala has the pride of having the highest per capita of alcohol consumption in India. Rum and brandy are the most popular drinks. Still, life expectancy is 75 years in Kerala, whereas India's average is 69 years.

Average net monthly salary in Kochi (in 2020): 340 USD (all India: 433 USD)

As of 2019, Kerala is the most literate state in India with a literacy rate of 94%, while the literacy rate of the country stands at a mere 69,1%

God's Own Country - this is the slogan used by Kerala Tourism Department.

One of Kerala’s definitions is “India’s Green Spice Garden” There are virtually no industrial facilities in Kerala, which helps a lot to protect the natural environment.

Geography


The backwaters make up for almost half of the length of Kerala. These backwaters include a network of turquoise and tranquil streams and canals, all gorgeously interwoven. Kerala's backwaters are mostly composed of lagoons and lakes.

Climate

Kerala has a tropical climate. The best time to visit is between December and March. After March, the monsoon comes, and the tour itinerary can be washed away by the rain. It is warm all year round, with a maximum temperature of 30-31 degrees and a minimum of around 24 degrees.

Kerala - rain

People

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Kerala - locals - e.r. photo

Kerala - man's portrait - e.r. photo

Kerala - b.e. photo

Kerala - old woman - e.d. photo

Kerala - girls - b.e. photo

Kerala - boys - b.e. photo

Attractions

Cochin

Trivandrum (or Thiruvananthapuram)

Kovalam&Kovalam Beach

,, Likes

1. Ayurveda massage- The Ayurvedic doctors, the consultation, the diagnosis were free; we paid for the medicines which were cheap and contained natural active ingredients only.

2. In the local restaurants, the vegetarian menus cost 70-100 rupees only, and for that price, they refilled the plate several times. It was very spicy

3. The eggplant masala was divine.

4. Almost everyone spoke English well

5. The boat excursion on the backwater canals along beautiful palm groves

6. Visit to Sivananda Asram

7. The view from the lighthouse

8. Neyyar River

Dislike

1. The Tuktuk taxi drivers cooperate in cartels so to keep prices high for the tourists.

2. There are many Kashmiri shops, but they set a high price level

3. The pushy beach vendors

4. Bugs in the accommodation, even in better hotels

5. Frequent power cuts

6. In April, the unbearable heat

7. The high wawes in the sea often made the bath very dangerous

8. If you can’t stand the spicy flavors, get ready to eat a lot of chapatis, roti, and rice.

9. mosquitoes

(Bernadette, 2019)




Kerala - Kovalam Beach

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