Kochin und Backwaters
This state is also called ´Gods land´- and that´s for sure for a good reason! I haven´t seen anywhere else in India such a diversity of spices: pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, café beans, tea, jackfruit, pineapple,mango, coconut and many more things grow here. But not only the manifold landscape of big mountains (2700 m mountains are quite high for me as a woman from north Germany) and paradise beaches made me see Kerala as Gods land but also the hospitality and the sense of community. Especially Varkala Beach felt like home. During writing these lines I´m sitting in the night train from Kollam which is next to Varkala Beach to Mookambika Devi Temple in Kollur in Karnataka. In the following lines you read about my experiences in Kochi and Varkala Beach.
My friend Anna and I decided to stay only for 2 nights in Kochi. We were both tired of packing our backpackers all the time and decided to go directly from Kochi to Varkala Beach. It turned out that Backwater tours to Alleppey are also offered directly from Kochi. For this reason we could skip staying for 1 night in Alleppey.
As soon as we arrived by bus from Coimbatore in Kochi we felt very well: the clean streets, beautiful houses and only few poor people left a pleasant welcoming feeling. After we had checked in we went for a walk and we made our first experience with the hospitality oft he Kerala people. When we arrived at our HomeStay weh ad the urgent need to fill up our water bottels. The kitchen was already closed (it was almost midnight) so we asked a boy who just passed our way. I understood immediatly our need and made us knowing that we shall wait (he didn´t speak English). He ran away and after 3 min he came back with a Vodka bottle filled with water. I didn´t know if I could trust the quality of the water so I asked him for filtered water. We went in a 15 min walk with him and his friend to the only shop that was opened at this time and he bought us a bottle of water. Such a darling! I was touched by this gesture and my inner child looked already forward for the next day! On the following day I checked out some cafés and finally I found one where I enjoyed my breakfast. Anna joined me a bit later and when we left the café we looked for another one that offers only self-made cakes (for sure it was my wish to go there…). I asked another time an apparently looking local who turned out to be a tourist: Shylesh is an artist from Indian backround who´s originally from Pondicherry but lives in Chicago. He showed us another beautiful café and in the end we spent the whole day together. Together we explored exhibitions, hidden places, future cafés and one of the best places to enjoy Masala Dosa.
On the next day Anna and I woke up early to be ready for the Backwaters tour. We should be picked up at 8 am (in reality it was 8:45 am) and arrived after 1.5 hours of bus ride at a jetty. Over there we took with 10 other tourists a tiny boat in which we enjoyed the Backwaters trip. We saw (and I even learned how to do it!) how locals cut off the shell of coconuts by using a big kind of sword which is vertically put in the floor. After getting rid off the shell the coconuts are opened and the flesh is dried in the sun to preparing for coconut oil manufacturing. The tour took 7 hours. We paid 1000 rupees each and we were very satisfied, especially after hearing that a traveller paid 2000 rupees for 4 hours. The tour was organisied directly via our HomeStay.
After the tour the bus driver dropped us off at a bus stand where we waited for a local bus to bring us to the train station. After a while we found ourselves in the train to Varkala.
I only spent 6 days in Varkala but I´ve found a second family! My second family consists of Kailash and Manu who are 2 locals I spent most oft he time with. Being co-founders of the Avocado Vegan Café they are responsible for transforming within 65 days a place, that was used by locals as a dump, into a vegan café and a Yoga Shala (the most beautiful one I´ve ever seen!). All materias they used are exclusively recycled. Not only the vegan dishes look lovely prepared but also for decoration the artists gave their best: Everyone who enters the Yoga Shala will have the impression to fly above the clouds and the ocean like on a flying carpet!
Try the smoothie bowl, the Jackfruit sandwich and the delicious vegan drinks when you´re there while listening to nice chillout sounds!
The small path along the cliff is surrounded by small supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, Momo´s (made by Tibetan chefs!), book/tattoo stores as well as hotels. After a while little stairs go down tot he beach for a refreshing. I was in Varkala during february when the waves were quite little for surfing. On the second day my friend and I heard by chance about a electronic music beach party. In the evening we made ourselves ready fort he way and we weren´t dissapointed: the DJ played 4.5 hours finest beats creating a playful mood. I danced 2.5 hours non-stop barefood under coconut trees and stars! The following days I chilled mostly in the café, in between I went swimming and after I relaxed again by having a fruit salad. In between I enjoyed different kind of ayurvedic tratments like full body massage, Shirodhana and Kiri Kiri.
On one day 4 of us drove toMankayam waterfall which is located in a national park. We needed minimum 2 hours for one direction on motorbikes. After the trip each of us suffered from pain in the ass but the ride through the different landscapes of Kerala rewarded us. When we arrived at the waterfall the rangers told us that it´s not allowed to take a bath in the waterfall (it´s only allowed in a small area so that mimimum the legs get a nice refreshment!). I discovered a beautiful tree that seemed to be grown into a stone. He must have fight for his right to live. I just love trees! They transmit strong, grounding and and kind energy for me! We smoked a ´piece pipe´ and had to start our way back. Before we started our way back, Anna and Manu had a dip in the little river and Kailesh prepared a pineapple and a watermelon for us. It was just beautiful! We shared our food with the monkeys in the jungle which thanked us by few yellings and less intrusiveness. Then we left our cousins and drove back in the dawn. When we arrived I was super tired and went to bed. The following days I mostly spent at the cliff and in the Avocado café with my friends. Even I met some friends from MayLoadGanj and Mysore over there!
After only 6 days I left Varkala Beach to meet my yoga teacher Clive, his partner Miranda and some other friends I had already met at the Yoga retreat in French Pyrenees. We met at the Mookambika Devi temple in Kollur in Karnataka. More about this experience you can read in my blog writing „Visiting Mookambika Devi Temple — An Homage to the Female Energy!“.
“This state is also called ´Gods land´- and that´s for sure for a good reason! I haven´t seen anywhere else in India such a diversity of spices: pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, café beans, tea, jackfruit, pineapple,mango, coconut and many more things grow here.”